36. 'Little Britain' (2003-2006)
It was called both the heir apparent to The Goon Show and Monty Python's Flying Circus and, per a Guardian columnist, "one of the most sneering, cold-hearted, nasty little shows ever to air on British TV." But as divisive as Matt Lucas and David Walliams' send-up of the country's working-class citizens and regional grotesqueries were, there was a method to their messy looks at U.K. life on the fringes. "We wanted to make it kind of like a cartoon strip come to life," Walliams told The Guardian. "Comedy should exist in an area of being slightly on the edge." That would certainly explain Vicky Pollard, Lucas' dim-witted teenage mother who bordered on offensive and became a political talking point. But while the show had its share of oafs and idiots, many — the "rubbish transvestite" Emily Howard; pouting, provincial Daffyd Thomas, who yearned to be "the only gay in the village" — were simply misunderstood, and Little Britain's explorations of class, gender and sexuality always allowed for a sliver of empathy. And while a single season of an American spin-off on HBO had its fans, the original show was a massive hit in England, where it scored three entries in a poll of the Top 10 most popular television catchphrases.