Top 5 movies by UK TV comedy stars

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Hailed as “the best British comedy in years” by Shortlist, coming of age story Submarine sees a boy (Being Human‘s Craig Roberts) fighting to save his mother from the advances of a mystic, while simultaneously luring his pyromaniac girlfriend into the bedroom, armed with only a wide vocabulary and near-total self belief.

To celebrate the release of The IT Crowd star Richard Ayoade’s directorial debut on DVD and Blu-ray this week, we’ve picked out our five favourite movies by stars of UK TV comedy…

Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Written by Spaced’s Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg

So much has already been said about this highly successful rom-zom-com that pretty much anything we’d want to discuss, you’ve heard before. This is perhaps appropriate for a film in which so much wit derives from repetition and foreshadowing – from when Nick Frost angrily snarls ‘Next time I see him, he’s dead’, to a sequence of friendly hands dropping on character’s shoulders – ending, of course, with a much less friendly (and undead) hand completing the gag.

However, in this comedy of boys and toys, the brilliance of the girls is often overlooked: Dianne’s (Lucy Davis) expression as she finally comes to terms with the fact that her boyfriend (Dylan Moran) is – pointlessly – in love with her best friend wordlessly tells more than six pages of dialogue. But even better is Penelope Wilton as the lead character’s mum, Barbara: whether she’s calling Shaun (Simon Pegg) ‘Pickle’ or stoically re-adjusting her world view to accommodate astonishing events, it’s she that gives this film its heart. And in a movie in which most of the country (and the cast) are in danger of getting chomped, it’s only when Barbara faces death that the heart seems like it could get ripped out.

> Buy Shaun of the Dead on DVD on Amazon.

Hot Fuzz (2007)
Written by Spaced’s Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg

Not as lauded as Shaun, this smart riposte to the often made argument that the UK could never make buddy-cop movies because we’re all stuck in Midsomer Murders gleefully embraces that challenge as a garnish. (The solution? Simply make a buddy-cop movie in Midsomer).

With the final fight sequence in a model village (Lethal Weapon meets – well, a model village) a particular highlight, Hot Fuzz is also packed with perfectly pitched cameos (Steve Coogan, Cate Blanchett, Peter Jackson). Initially, the revelation of the villain seems a little heavy-handed, but subsequent viewings emphasise the wit of the central joke even more, as does director Edgar Wright’s determination to film the banal as if viewed through the prism of Jerry Bruckheimer – best example: light gleaming on a teenage drinker’s mouth braces.

> Buy Hot Fuzz on DVD on Amazon.

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)
Written by Da Ali G Show’s Sacha Baron Cohen

Borat should be an easy film to hate, seemingly aimed at the lowest common denominator. It’s certainly embraced by an audience (teenage boys) who will quote the most offensive and sexist lines from the script in that mildly xenophobic accent, presumably unaware of any deeper meaning within the film.

But, somewhat surprisingly, there is deeper meaning: sure, it’s all too apparent that certain scenes have been manipulated for comedic effect, but this is still an ‘ambush’ movie of the highest order, one that Chris Morris would be proud of. Or at least quote the most offensive lines from.

> Buy Borat on DVD on Amazon.

Attack the Block (2011)
Written and directed by The Adam and Joe Show’s Joe Cornish

One of those one line concepts – ‘inner city meets outer space’ – that, surely, can never be delivered on in the actual movie; Attack The Block is frankly far better than we ever had a right to expect. This in part is due to a very winning performance from John Boyega in the central role, and to a great, genuinely funny script (which, crucially, places far more importance on believable dialogue than gags).

There’s also a good number of references for the geeks in the audience (check out the name of the titular block, glimpsed onscreen for less than a few seconds). The cast are all likeable, while the Nick Frost cameo, over-played in the trailer, never unbalances the movie from the cast of unknowns.

> Buy Attack the Block on DVD on Amazon.

Submarine (2011)
Written and directed by The IT Crowd’s Richard Ayoade

A smart comedy that’s timeless – quite genuinely, since the decade in which it’s set is pretty hard to define: the style and look is all very ‘70s, a lot of the references and concerns place it very firmly in the ‘80s, while the dialogue is absolutely now.

That said, Submarine is a coming of age comedy drama blended with nostalgia, a tale of first love as told in the freshly hovered hallways of your parents’ house while lit by Habitat lampshades. Ayoade’s directorial debut perfectly captures the sort of life, as is said, that won’t matter when you’re 38, but matters a hell of a lot while you’re having to live it.

> Buy Submarine on DVD on Amazon.

Watch a deleted scene from Submarine