Photographic exhibition celebrates Britain’s comedy greats with ‘Funny Looks’

Miranda 2013

Faces of BBC Comedy photographic exhibition celebrates Britain’s comedy greats, from Tony Hancock’s lugubrious stare to Miranda Hart’s trademark look-to-camera, some of Britain’s most instantly recognisable comedians and actors are celebrated in a new exhibition at Compton Verney.

“This is not only a great show, which encourages visitors to look anew at some of their comedy heroes, it is also the beginning of a beautiful friendship with the BBC, one that we hope will result in many more collaborative exhibitions and initiatives.” – Dr Steven Parissien, Direct of Compton Verney

BBC Faces of Comedy – opening at the Warwickshire gallery on 19th July and running until 2nd October 2016 – is a collaboration with the BBC, who will also launch a landmark sitcom season on air later this year across BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Four.
Ranging from the 1950s to the present day, the exhibition of almost 100 photographs is drawn from the BBC’s photo library. This iconic collection contains over four million images, taken both on set and on location, many of which have never been seen by the public before.

Included in the Compton Verney show are the seminal comedy faces of Joyce Grenfell, Tommy Handley, Frankie Howerd, Tony Hancock, Morecambe and Wise, and The Goons. Stars from much-loved sitcoms, including The Good Life, Are You Being Served?, Till Death Us Do Part, Dad’s Army, Only Fools and Horses, The Office, Citizen Khan and Absolutely Fabulous are also represented, while contemporary favourites such as Brendan O’Carroll and Miranda reflect the diverse nature of BBC comedy today.


“We wanted to reflect our audience’s enduring love of these iconic comedy shows and performers with this new exhibition, Faces of BBC Comedy. It’s a fabulous photographic roll call of the comedy and sitcom greats post-war.” – Shane Allen, Controller, BBC Comedy Commissioning

In addition, the Compton Verney show is itself being guest curated by some of the BBC’s best-loved contemporary sitcom actors and comics, who have chosen their favourite shots from the vast library of photos to reflect the comedy greats who inspired and informed their own work. Guest curators will be announced shortly. Many of the images reveal their subjects at work. We are taken behind the scenes, on set among the paraphernalia of cameras and microphones, and given a glimpse of an avid script discussion, or the mundanity of taking a few moments’ break to enjoy a cuppa.

Compton Verney is an award winning, national art gallery in Warwickshire, based in a Grade I-listed Georgian mansion and set in 120 acres of Grade II-listed Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown parkland. With six permanent collections (Naples, Northern European Art 1450-1650, British Portraits, Chinese, British Folk Art & The Marx-Lambert Collection) and a schedule of thought-provoking changing exhibitions, it is an accredited museum, a registered charity, and the Chinese collection is nationally designated.

‘We’re delighted to be opening up the BBC’s rich archive of great comedy photos, many of which will be seen for the first time and are newly digitised. We hope BBC Faces of Comedy will inspire visitors to Compton Verney to think about the art of broadcast comedy in fresh and different ways.’ – Robert Seatter, Head of BBC History

Are You Being Served?

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