The comedian and writer Carol Burnett said: "Comedy is tragedy plus time". And it's generally a well regarded set-up of comedy that other people's misery is funny. Given that it's not surprising that we've had so many comedy antagonists down the years and with that I introduce my own completely subjective and personally biased Top 10 list of British Sitcom Bastards.
10. David Brent ( The Office)
David Brent is the general manager of the Slough branch Wernham-Hogg paper merchants and overall boss to most of the characters in the BBC version of The Office. Completely without any kind of self-awareness or tact he tries desperately to be more of a 'father' figure to his employees than a boss, although that only leads him to be incredibly annoying, offensive and unbearable to the other characters.
I have ranked him low on this list as David isn't inherently an arsehole on purpose but merely his bastardly nature comes from the fact he's an idiot who is ignorant of his obnoxiousness. Also the character of Chris Lynch in The Office is also portrayed as being much, much worse than Brent.
9. Malcolm Tucker (The Thick of It)
Malcolm Tucker is the Chief of Communications of the government in The Thick of It. He acts as the PM's enforcer to ensure that the party members are kept in line and regularly uses swearing, shouting and threats of violence to get his way. Acts like a complete bully to everyone around him and regularly uses spin and the dark arts of the media to manipulate the events so that the party comes out better.
Again I have put him quite low on this list as throughout the series it is shown that he can be quite likeable and capable of compassion and that his aggression and fury are merely part of the job. Although that still doesn't mean he can get away with some of horrible things he has said. Malcolm Tucker is a bastard you do not want to fuck with.
8. Edmund Blackadder (Blackadder)
8. Edmund Blackadder (Blackadder)
Conniving, cunning, scheming, manipulative, vicious- Edmund Blackadder is a truly great bastard. Throughout his different incarnations in history (except for the first) he is presented as an intelligent, charming and witty man and also as a arrogant, bitter, cynical cowardly opportunist solely out for himself and his steadily decreasing social status. He is shown to have absolute contempt to the people around and believes them to be ludicrous, stupid morons (which they actually are).
Blackadder though has a very modern perspective of the world around him and is continually frustrated by the absurd madness happening all around him. He generally perceives that he should be above all of the cretins around him and ruthlessly tries to get his way in life without a care of those around him. Now that's one hell of a bastard.
7. Bernard Black (Black Books)
Oh-ho-ho! Now we are getting into truly bastard territory. Bernard Black is an Irish alcoholic, misanthropic, pessimistic ant-social recluse who does nothing more than bully and insult his staff and most of his customers. His hatred and cruelty is directed almost solely to Manny, who is the opposite to Bernard (caring, considerate, friendly) and for that reason Bernard does his best to antagonize, torment and insult him.
However it is hinted that this is not what he used to be like. When his suit is washed it is sparkling white and it is possible to tract the point where things all went wrong. As it's revealed in the last episode that his girlfriend faked her own death to get away from him.
Well, this article is getting a little long now, so make sure you catch the second part of my Top 10 British Sitcom Bastards.