24. 'Not the Nine O'Clock News' (1979-1982)
Not the Nine O'Clock News was an alternative to the BBC1's evening news, but it was no less topical than the night's headlines. The show's young cast, including 24-year-old Rowan Atkinson, used their half-hour show to parody politicians (both Brit and American), talk shows and pop culture. It was a welcome and relevant alternative to the popular and provincial British comedy of the time, one that made fun of conventions as soon as they came into existence. "Television was lagging behind what was going on in society," producer John Lloyd told The Guardian, "and we brought it a little bit closer." Making fun of the U.K.'s newsmakers made them news as well: Their music video parodies of ABBA and the New Romantics turned the cast into rock stars (they even knocked Queen off the charts) and bestselling authors. The American version, Not Necessarily the News, was itself a success for Eighties HBO and a launching pad for Rich Hall's Sniglets books, a young writer named Conan O'Brien and future Saturday Night Live star Jan Hooks.