British comedy series started in 1920s with popularization of radio. Most of the radio comedy shows were based on variety shows or vaudeville that was popular in the theaters across the country. World War 2 brought a new wave in entertainment and comedy was important factor in keeping the spirit of the armed forces and the country population. ENSA (Entertainments National Service Association) that toured the military units also used the radio as a medium to reach the audience. The ENSA shows has influence on many after-war entertainers and in 1950s the new generation of comedians changed the face of British comedy and the comedy around the world.
The precursor of new trends were such artists as Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe or Tony Hancock - their shows influenced such shows as Monty Python’s Flying Circus or I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again and many more. From that point the British comedy series went two ways - the classic ones were quite similiar to the American style based on family stories and rather mild humour, while the other ones were more radical and some of them were even hard to label them (like Might Boosh, The Fast Show, Mr Bean or Green Wing). Since 1980s the influence of stand up comedy have increases, but still most of the classic British comedies series derived from variety shows tradition.