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Comic Relief special: What can TV comedies teach us about money?

To pay tribute to the incredible fundraising efforts of Comic Relief, we’ve put together a list of money lessons you can learn from classic television comedies.

Only Fools and Horses

‘Del Boy’ Trotter was the spoof ‘yuppy’ (young urban professional) who was always dreaming about becoming a millionaire. The reality was that he lived in a reasonably-sized flat and had a very silly yellow van. However the provenance of some of the goods he sold at his market stall was never fully explained.

Money message: Have you got stuff lying around that could help raise a few pounds?    

The Simpsons

The US animation may be the most successful comedy ever – somehow, everyone seems to be able to identify with one of Homer, Marge, Lisa, Bart and Maggie (or maybe it’s one of the ancillary characters you love?). Money matters pop up pretty regularly on the show. Remember when Marge ends up re-cutting an expensive frock after it boosts her status? Or that time Homer ends up falling asleep in his second job to pay for Lisa’s pony? 

Money message: Use our budget planner to make sure you can afford any major expenses like designer clothes or pets.


Rising Damp

Think you have a nightmare landlord? Leonard Rossiter starred in the classic sitcom from the 1980s which focussed on the grumpy Rigsby and his long suffering tenants. If you’ve had tough experiences in the rental market, you may identify with some of the storylines. 

Money message: If you have problems paying your rent, make sure you know what you can do


There are so many money lessons we can take from US sitcom Friends. The six Manhattan singletons had their fair share of money worries  - including Monica’s scrape with identify fraud; Joey, Rachel and Phoebe’s saying no to splitting the bill evenly at a fancy restaurant;  and Chandler’s struggle to stop a gym membership he didn’t use. Despite their difficulties with cash, no one could understand how they could afford such huge apartments on their low salaries- it was only explained in the very last episode with the throwaway line that it was a steal "because of rent-control".

Money message: Getting by in the big city can be tough. Try our cut-back calculator to help find ways to make it to the end of the month.

Fawlty Towers

They didn’t make many episodes of this comedy but it still airs somewhere in our multi-channel world thanks to the enduring slapstick brilliance of John Cleese as rude and hopeless hotel owner Basil Fawlty. Basil managed to seriously contravene hygiene standards and offend in generous measures as his guests’ stays invariably turned into nightmares. 

Money message: Holidays do sometimes go wrong. Make sure you’ve thought about travel insurance.

Gavin and Stacey

This hit romantic sitcom tracked the ups and downs of a relationship between a quirky couple who hailed from Essex and South Wales. Viewers became totally hooked by their evolving courtship which took in all the highs and lows of being a modern couple in a 'confusing' world. 

Money message: Television can guarantee a happy ending but life cannot. Find out how to separate your finances if things go wrong. 

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