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Tuesday, 21 August, 2001, 10:19 GMT 11:19 UK
Meldrew catchphrase tops poll
Victor Meldrew played by Richard Wilson
Victor Meldrew: About to utter his famous phrase?
Victor Meldrew's famous catchphrase "I don't believe it!" has been voted the greatest comedy slogan in the Radio Times Comedy Poll.

The grumpy character, loved by millions, was played by actor Richard Wilson in BBC One sitcom One Foot in the Grave.

He said it was a "release" when Meldrew was killed off at the end of the final series in October.

Only Fools and Horses
Del Boy Trotter (centre): Famed for "Lovely Jubbly!"
He told the Radio Times at the time he would only say the phrase for charity in future, because he was so sick of being asked to repeat it.

But the famous words, usually shouted after yet another misfortune befell Meldrew, scored twice as many votes as the runner-up, Del Boy Trotter's famous slogan "Lovely jubbly!".

Del Boy Trotter was considered the best male sitcom character, with The Good Life's Margo Leadbetter winning the female sitcom character category.

John Cleese
Basil Fawlty's gourmet night still tickles ribs
The survey also revealed that Steptoe and Son were the most popular double act, while Victoria Wood won two categories - best sketch show (for As Seen On TV) and top TV stand-up comedian.

Readers also voted on US comedies, and M*A*S*H - about a field hospital unit in Korea during the 1950s war - beat The Phil Silvers Show, Frasier, Friends and Seinfeld, winning 40% of the votes.

The Radio Times asked 2,500 readers to select their favourite programmes, moments and characters from TV comedies from the 1950s to the present day.

Victoria Wood
Victoria Wood: Won two categories
They chose a scene from Fawlty Towers as their best slapstick moment, with Basil Fawlty's gourmet-night duck a l'orange disguised as a blancmange.

The Two Ronnies' Fork Handles scene won best sketch, with more than twice as many votes in that category as Monty Python's legendary Dead Parrot sketch.

Have I Got News For You presenter Angus Deayton was judged the funniest presenter on TV, while The Mrs Merton Show is the best satirical show.

Have I Got News For You
Deayton (centre): Funniest presenter
But it was not smiles all round for everyone - Lenny Henry's comedy show Chef! was voted the worst sitcom, followed by You Rang, M'Lord, On the Buses and Mind Your Language.

The biggest comedy let-down was comedian Lee Evans's So What Now?, with other disappointments including Eddie Izzard's Cows and Emma Thompson's series Thompson.

The poll ties in with the Summer Nights of Comedy season throughout August on UK Gold, which is sponsored by Radio Times.

Sense of humour
Have the British lost it?
See also:

21 Aug 01 | TV and Radio
Radio Times Comedy Poll results
08 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Lyndhurst and Meldrew back on BBC
22 Mar 01 | TV and Radio
John Cleese set for US sitcom
13 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Wilson mellow after Meldrew
24 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Meldrew fans lay floral tributes
06 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Victoria Wood's festive treat
14 Dec 97 | UK
'Do I like this Rodders!'
19 Jul 01 | Showbiz
Del Boy museum planned
11 Apr 00 | Entertainment
M*A*S*H star Linville dies
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