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Laughter is the best medicine! People are re-watching classic TV shows like The Vicar of Dibley and Father Ted to ease their worries during lockdown – and Only Fools And Horses is voted most comforting

  • Britons are ‘self-medicating’ by re-watching classic TV shows during lockdown

  • Only Fools and Horses along with Gavin and Stacey and Father Ted were top

  • More than a third said classic TV shows help them to forget about the stresses

People are turning to classic TV shows to help take their mind off the stress of living in lockdown, research shows.

Three quarters of 1,500 surveyed by UK TV company BritBox said they are taking time to re-watch comedies like Father Ted and The Vicar of Dibley to ease their anxiety.

Only Fools And Horses came out on top in a poll of the most comforting TV shows, with Gavin and Stacey voted the second most comforting.

The 25 most comforting TV shows

1. Only Fools & Horses 29%

2. Gavin & Stacey 21%

3. Father Ted 18%

4. Top Gear 17%

5. The Vicar of Dibley 17%

6. Open All Hours 16%

7. Porridge 16%

8. One Foot in The Grave 16%

9. The Royle Family 15%

10. Blackadder 15%

11. Benidorm 15%

12. The Two Ronnies 14%

13. Keeping Up Appearances 14%

14. The Good Life 14%

15. Attenborough: 60 Years in The Wild 13%

16. Doc Martin 13%

17. Red Dwarf 12%

18. My Family 12%

19. Outnumbered 12%

20. Death in Paradise 12%

21. Absolutely Fabulous 11%

22. Downton Abbey 11%

23. Michael Palin: Around the world in 80 days 9%

24. Goodnight Mister Tom 8%

25. Inspector Morse 8%

Psychologist Donna Dawson analysed the data and said by re-watching familiar programmes we ‘re-capture the comfort and happiness’ of that time.

She said: ‘It is interesting to see from this research how many Brits are turning to classic TV shows for comfort.

‘Watching programmes we are familiar with, puts us back in a place and time that may have been less stressful.

‘So we not only re-capture the comfort and happiness of that earlier time period, but we are subtly reminded that further good times are just around the corner.’

And she added: ‘It is perhaps unsurprising to see all of the top comfort watches were British and most of them comedies.

‘In times of stress, laughter helps us to feel better by releasing a feel-good chemical in the brain called ‘Serotonin’, which floods our bodies and immediately makes us feel happier and more relaxed.

‘By re-watching programmes that made us laugh before, we guarantee that we can re-create the same effect again; it’s a way of temporarily escaping reality and also a way of self-medicating.’

It comes as seven out of ten Brits admit they are currently watching more TV than usual.

Chief Creative and Brand Officer at BritBox Reemah Sakaan said: ‘In these unusual times many of us are turning to our favourite TV boxsets to escape.

‘We are working hard with our colleagues at ITV, BBC, Channel 4 and Channel 5 to keep our subscribers entertained with the very best British boxsets available.’