Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Hosted by British humorist Angus Deayton (previously the star of Have I Got News for You), this multipart BBC2 documentary charted the rise of Britain's "new" comedians from the 1970s onward. After years and years of sedate, "safe" comedy (save for a few rebellious efforts like The Goon Show and Monty Python's Flying Circus), TV humor took on a sharper, sometimes harsher edge thanks to a strong upsurge in comedy clubs and cabarets. These spawning grounds produced such iconoclastic talents as Paul Merton, Rik Mayall, Alexei Sayle, and French and Saunders, all of whom are amply represented herein. The first episode of A History of Alternative Comedy was seen on January 10, 1999.