George Morahan – The IT Crowd

Revelling in abject, endemic misery and comforted only by surrounding oneself with idiots. Yes, that is a description of the situation I find myself in after four consecutive losses in this blasted Fatal Fourway, but it also aptly sums up The IT Crowd.

Set in the decrepit dungeon of Renholm Industries’ IT Department, The IT Crowd concerns the lives of Roy, Moss and Jen and the absurdities they face in the palm of mundanity. Much like Father Ted, Big Train and Black Books before it, Crowd is somewhat outdated in its use of misunderstandings and slapstick as a source of humour, but when it’s on form it’s a home to truly inspired idiocy. The German Cannibal, Gay: the Musical, the “The thing about Arsenal is…” – all of these memorable scenes and episodes flourished from Linehan’s madcap comedy brain and provide a strange mixture of incise and surreal humour. It’s a combination that he perfected with this show.

As Richard Ayoade (Moss) and Chris O’Dowd (Roy) move on to greener pastures and Katherine Parkinson (Jen) struggles to find any room in her schedule due to all those Maltesers adverts, the show is set to end soon enough, but you can always hit up 4od for a spot of Street Countdown.

Dermot O’Rourke – Black Books

After the Antiques Roadshow’s hijacking of the last poll, normality has been restored for this round with a topic so specific that there is no possibility of another show sneaking on and taking my votes. However, this is not to degrade this week’s topic as we are celebrating Ireland’s most prolific and arguably best comedic writer of all time, but more importantly, we are celebrating his best show: Black Books.

For the uncultured among you, Black Books was a show created by Linehan and the equally brilliant Dylan Moran. Bernard Black (Moran) is a bad-tempered bookshop owner living with his infantile shop assistant Manny (Bill Bailey) in conditions that would have even the residents of Belgrove recoiling in horror. Alongside fellow delinquent Fran (Tasmin Greig), smoking, getting wasted on cheap wine and eating scrambled eggs with combs (from a boot) are all regular features of their eccentric lives.

The show’s whimsical nature takes the best parts of IT Crowd and Father Ted and throws them all together in situations that make Black Books hilarious and even a bit repulsive at times,   but undoubtedly the best demonstration of Graham Linehan’s talent.

Jon Hozier-Byrne – Father Ted

Father Ted isn’t just the best show Graham Linehan has had a golden finger in, it’s probably the best piece of Irish programming in the history of our nascient television industry. Sure, Black Books and The IT Crowd are excellent shows in their own right, but they haven’t defined an entire culture the way Father Ted has.

Think of any Irish protest you’ve ever seen; chances are the lines “Down with this sort of thing” and “Careful now” were plastered across poorly-made placards. How often have you heard the lines “small … far away” to mock our more intellectually challenged friends? How many Bertie-era headlines ran with some play on “the money was just resting in my account”? Father Ted helped us better understand Celtic Tiger Ireland, our culture, and the diminishing role of faith. None of Graham Linehan’s other shows have had such a remarkable cultural impact.

Even without all that, however, you’ve still got one of the funniest shows ever to grace our screens, one that helped form our collective sense of humour. For a show that ran for just three years between 1995 and 1998, it has left a remarkable comedy legacy, and still holds up remarkably well. Dermot Morgan is the unlikely saviour of Irish television – address him by his proper title.

Aoife Valentine – Graham Linehan is lame

In the face of even a brutal poll hijacking by the Antiques Roadshow, Fade Street still managed to cruise to victory, despite being possibly the worst show ever, even by RTÉ’s standards. It would probably even beat off any of this week’s shows if I could class it as a Graham Linehan show. Apparently only shows written by the man himself count, though. Lame.

Why is even Fade Street better than any of the shows Graham Linehan has written? Because it succeeds in making me laugh, even if it never intends to. In an effort to convince me of this man’s genius, I’ve been shown more clips from Black Books than anyone should have to endure, that is to say, I was shown two clips. Didn’t even crack a smile.

But hey, Father Ted, you say? No Ireland, you’re wrong. Especially you Jon. It’s not funny, it’s just incredibly stupid. Yes, more stupid than Fade Street, and the characters in that collectively have about two brain cells. It’s just priests with culchie accents saying ridiculous things. So not lolz.

So that leaves The IT Crowd, and let’s face it, it may be better than Father Ted but nerds and slapstick comedy still make for some very mediocre television. Fade Street may be the ultimate guilty pleasure, but that doesn’t make it good. Graham Linehan however, still has some serious competing to do.