Saturday, 14 June 2008

The 100 Greatest TV Show Characters Of All Time

100: Friends: Janice (Maggie Wheeler)
We start the list with one of the supporting cast from the most popular comedy series of all time. Introduced early on, Janice was a recurring girlfriend for Chandler, who was nice in all regards except for her voice. And her laugh. She is the one who is single-handedly responsible for the popularity of the phrase “Oh. My. God”. She wasn’t around as often as the other characters, which may be why we loved her so much; and it was a cool payoff at the end when we found out her eventual husband, who had seemed strangely tolerant of her horsey laugh, was actually partially deaf. Genius.

99: Father Ted: Noel Furlong (Graham Norton)
Another recurring character, the fact that we only ever saw Noel three times in the entirety of the series proves just how memorable he was. Played by the gay Graham Norton with a knowing wink, Noel was a hopelessly energetic soul, ever optimistic and always happy to sing campfire songs. He was so upbeat he would drive anyone in close contact with him into insanity – so where did Ted meet him? In a caravan, or in a cave, in which he was eventually trapped after causing a cave-in from shouting too excitedly. A fitting end, for such a manic character.

98: Mr Bean: Mr Bean (Rowan Atkinson)
Rowan Atkinson is a master at pronouncing words in special ways so that they sound funny. So what could have been more natural than taking on a new character who never spoke? Although it seemed a stretch, Atkinson managed to take on this new challenge, playing a man who was essentially a babbling idiot, and make it funny. Highly accident-prone, Bean was able to cause chaos in whatever situation he was in, whether he was in a nursing home or a theme-park or anywhere, you knew that come the end of the episode, Bean would have wormed his way into an impossible situation with no way out. And due to Atkinson’s rubber face, you’d know that it was going to be funny.

97: The American Office: Jim Halpert (John Krazinski)
The first of two characters from the American Office to make the list, it’s interesting to note that there are no characters from the English Office, which this show was based on, present in the list. So how come Jim makes it whilst Tim does not? Because Jim is much more likeable as a person, funnier, and more personable. Ricky Gervais writes excruciating comedy like no other, but the American Office took the central conceit of the show and made it honestly FUNNY. And Jim is probably the funniest character of the bunch, with his incessant pranks on office nerd Dwight, including sticking his stationary and wallet in a vending machine and handing him a bag of pennies to buy them back. However it was his relationship with Pam which most struck audiences, a genuine will they/won’t they situation where they really could end up apart at the end.

96: Extras: Darren Lamb (Stephen Merchant)
Speaking of Ricky Gervais, this is the only character from either of his shows to make it onto the list, and it’s the one played by Stephen Merchant. Bad luck Ricky, but Merchant plays the role of seedy yet useless Showbiz Agent Darren Lamb with relish, leaping headfirst into situations and showing time and time again how inept he is for the job; whether it be consistently failing to see anything his actors had been in, to booking poor guest spots for his people to work in. When he brings in “Barry”, every scene they have together is comedic gold, as Lamb is totally unable to realise that the character and the actor are separate people. It's a shame he wasn't in The Office more often.

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