All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…


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Thirteen things that have saved my life…

Skins

Whilst working through the Skins DVD box-set I received for my birthday last week something strange happened. Something I wasn’t expecting but, in hindsight, should have.

In April 2009 I was living in a dodgy boarding house in Inverness. The boarding house was a converted kindergarten school, complete with child-size toilets and Playschool-esque wall decorations. With sixteen other people living in the house personal space was limited, and I spent most of my time huddled in my room, twiddling my thumbs and trying to find something to fill the void.

At the time I was suffering through a particularly nasty depressive episode, veering in and out of suicidal ideation and desperately trying to procure some professional help from the local mental health services.

On one night, in an effort to provide some relief from the self-harm I had been engaging in, I walked the two kilometers to the local Tesco supermarket at around eleven in the evening. Although I hadn’t planned on it, I ended up purchasing a copy of Skins Series 3 from their entertainment section and returned home to watch it.

As I had done countless times in the past, I ended up staying up the entire night to watch the ten episode series in a televisual marathon. By the end of it all urge to self-harm had evaporated and for the next several days no suicidal thought crept into my mind. Courtesy of a simple television show, for several days I was calm, at ease and able to focus on what I needed to do.

Whilst watching the same season over the weekend, I was taken back to those dark days and reminded that were it not for Skins there is a reasonable chance that I wouldn’t be here to write these words today.

All of which got me thinking about other entertainment products that have saved my life over the years.

Zelda

1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1993)

This is the video-game that began my life-long love affair with the world of Hyrule and a game that, more than any other, defines my child-hood. At a time when my depression was first starting to bite and the urge to self-harm was becoming increasingly difficult to overcome, having a world to escape to was a tremendous solace to me. So much so that when the game was re-released for the Gameboy Advance in the early naughties, I was one of the first in line to add it to my collection purely so I could relive some of the happier memories of my teenage years.

2. Doctor Who: The Classic Era (1993)

There is a reason why I was so excited by the recent fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who. It wasn’t just because I have been a fan for over twenty-five years of my life, but because during the mid-nineties, when I was first becoming lost to depression, self-harm and suicidal urges, it provided me with an escape like no other. Although heavily criticized for its effects, the classic-era of Doctor Who will long be held in my heart, and not just because one of my strongest memories is of Sarah Sutton stripping down to her underwear in the story Terminus!

3. The Famous Five (1995)

One of my strongest memories of childhood is of my parents reading me the Famous Five books each and every night. They owned the complete collection in – what I remember being – first edition hardbacks. Although I may have seemed a little too old for these stories at the time, during the harshness of those teenage years I would often delve back into the world of 1950s innocence as a way to escape the pain that I was feeling.

Famous Five

4. Highlander (1997)

During the late nineties there were only a handful of television series that I was passionate about. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was one, Due South another, but the biggest of the three was the Vancouver based series Highlander, inspired by the Christopher Lambert starring motion pictures. This series was a huge source of escapism for me at the time and inspired countless aspects of my own writing (from the historical aspect of the storytelling to the presence of immortals). It was also a series that made me want to visit Glenfinnan, which would go on to become one of my favourite places in this world.

5. Doctor Who: Utopia, The Sound of Drums and The Last of the Time Lords (2007)

In late 2007, courtesy of losing everything after my breakdown, I owned just one DVD; the final three episodes of Doctor Who’s third series. As a result, over the course of six traumatic months, this became my go-to option in times of distress. As such, they are my three favourite episodes of new Doctor Who, and probably always will be.

6. Brandi Carlile, The Story (2007)

Along with Chasing Cars, this album provided me with the inspiration to begin writing this blog. When I hear songs such as The Story, Turpentine or Again Today I am taken back to the early days of my blogging career, and the hope that this venture provided me with at the time.

7. Supernatural (2007)

After attempting suicide in October 2007 I was a total, complete and utter mess. I couldn’t think straight, I couldn’t formulate ideas and I was unable to express how I was feeling to anyone. In fact, for weeks after the event – before becoming homeless – all I could do was sit on the sofa and watch random DVDs. It was during this period that I discovered Supernatural; a dark and humorous urban fantasy that enabled me to stay connected to the real-world and prevent the actualization of any further suicidal urges.

8. Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga (2008)

Returning to Scotland in 2008 was a bittersweet experience for me. Although I relished being back amidst the mountains, glens and lochs of the world’s most beautiful country, I was overrun with memories of times past throughout my entire trip. Fortunately, this gleefully enjoyable video-game was at hand to beat back the demons and keep myself from doing anything stupid. I’ve been a fan of the Lego games ever since, and still turn to them in times of distress to this day.

9. Doctor Who: The Waters of Mars and The End of Time (2009)

As David Tennant was starring in the RSC’s production of Hamlet, there was no complete series of Doctor Who in 2009. Instead, we were treated to four ‘specials’ throughout the year; Planet of the Dead, The Waters of Mars and the two-part tenth Doctor’s finale, The End of Time. It was the latter two, which arrived during my initial months of homelessness, that helped ease the distress I was in and provided me with hope and inspiration for a better future.

10. One Tree Hill (2010)

Possibly the most important entry in this list is Mark Schwan’s stunning television series, One Tree Hill. Whilst living in a violent boarding house in late 2010 I essentially became agoraphobic, unable to leave my measly room for any reason for over four weeks. It was only the desire to watch more seasons of One Tree Hill that lifted me from my despair and enabled me to find the strength to rejoin the world. Without the magnificence of One Tree Hill I would definitely not be here, period.

Chuck

11. Chuck (2011)

Although I had been a fan of Chuck since watching the pilot episode with Samantha in Glasgow, 2008, it was only when I was re-watching the series in internet cafes whilst homelessness did I realise the positive effect it was having on my ideals of hope and determination. Ever since that realization, this show has lived in the forefront of my heart. One of the greatest television series of recent years.

12. Fringe (2012)

After procuring my new home in early 2012 I was a mess. Years of homelessness, despair, depression and hopelessness had taken their toll. Regardless of my new-found privacy and security I couldn’t shake the person I had become in the preceding years. I still believed I deserved nothing but pain, misery and a painful death. Fortunately, the decision to watch Fringe Season 3 changed all that. Within twenty-four hours I had polished off the 22 episode season and began working my way through seasons one and two before watching season three for a second time. As such, I have long credited this exquisite science-fiction show for giving me a renewed hope in the world and the strength to keep going when all felt lost.

13. The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass (2012)

Last Christmas was a particularly brutal period for me. For nearly two months I was overwhelmed by the demons of depression, who pushed me against my will into the realms of alcoholism, self-harm and suicidal ideation. Luckily, courtesy of a birthday present from my parents, I had the world of Zelda to retreat into and, much like it did when I was but a fresh-faced teenager, it helped me quell the demons who were threatening me with extinction.


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The dinner party of my dreams!

The fifth day of the 15 Day Blog Challenge asks if you could have a dinner party with any five people, who would they be? But because today is Thursday, I have decided to share thirteen people whom I would love to have over for an epic (and I’m sure, incredibly enjoyable) dinner party!

Dinner Party

1. Serena Ryder

I’ve been an uber-fan of Serena Ryder since first hearing her perform at the Port Fairy Folk Festival in 2005. Her music has assisted me through breakdowns, breakups and breakthroughs; it gave me solace during my time on the streets and has provided me with countless moments of happiness and inspiration. Having witnessed her wit and raconteuring skills during live performances, I would definitely wish to spend a few hours in her company at a dinner party.

2. Charles de Lint

Like the music of Serena Ryder, de Lint’s writing has been a source of companionship, inspiration and hope for longer than I’d care to remember. Even before you take into account my love of his work, his skills as a musician, storyteller and folklorist would score an invite to the dinner party of my dreams.

3. Joss Whedon

C’mon, who wouldn’t want this creative genius at their dinner party?

4. Marius Romme

5. Sandra Escher

Marius Romme and Sandra Escher are the people responsible for the Hearing Voices Movement. Not only would their inclusion on the guest list provide people with the opportunity to learn about this most stereotyped of issues, but their presence would make my own people exceedingly happy!

6. Karen Gillan

I haven’t included Karen just because she’s super-beautiful. I’ve included her because (a) Meadhbh has a bit of a crush on her and (b)  she hails from Inverness. Thus, whilst Meadhbh swoons all over her, I could share anecdotes of this great city whilst sharing a slice of chocolate gateaux.

7. Rory Macdonald

8. Calum Macdonald

Rory and Calum Macdonald, two brothers from the Isle of Lewis, are the founding members and songwriters of the greatest band in the known universe; Runrig. Like Serena Ryder, Runrig’s music has been the soundtrack to some of the highest highs and lowest lows of my life. It would not be an exaggeration to say that without their music, I would probably be a dead man.

9. David Tennant

C’mon, who wouldn’t invite the hottest man in the world to their dinner party?

10. Lauren Rosewarne

Lauren Rosewarne is an Australian writer and academic. Her regular column on The Conversation, which focuses on issues prevalent in popular culture, is intelligent, inspired, hilarious and poignant. All attributes that could turn any dinner party into the most memorable of evenings.

11. Dr. Russ Harris

Dr. Russ Harris is not just a super-practitioner of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, but a successful stand-up comedian. Thus, his invite would not only help people with their emotional strife but provide them with a few belly laughs in the process.

12. Tim Burton

Given my interest in film-making, if I were to throw the dinner party of my dreams there would need to be at least one director on the guest list. As Alfred Hitchcock is deceased, and thus sadly unable to attend, Tim Burton would easily be my second choice because of his incredible style and imagination.

13. Mark Schwan

An odd choice, I’ll grant you, but considering One Tree Hill (which he created) saved my life, I would very much like the chance to thank him – as well as bombard him with questions about my most favourite of guilty pleasures.

One Tree Hill

(Some of) the cast of One Tree Hill

 


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Ruminations on (possibly) the best month in years!

I’m not travelling very well at the moment. My motivation has evaporated, my brain is foggy and I’ve (once again) been retreating from the world in the hope that isolation will protect me. Exactly what I’m trying to protect myself from is beyond me, but for the last two/three weeks something has been happening to cause my subconscious mind to adopt all manner of protective measures.

In a conversation with my counselor this afternoon, as nothing monumental could be identified as being the singular cause of my current malaise, it was decided that it was an accumulation of everything that’s been happening over the last ten months, culminating three weeks ago with the public speaking venture I undertook occurring the same week as the anniversary of a suicide attempt.

It doesn’t help that in eighteen days I will be heading to Melbourne for the first time since I was homeless there in 2011. Although I should be (and am) excited by this adventure, there is a lot of trepidation about my return to the city I used to call ‘home’ because of the number of possible triggers and negative memories that will flood me whilst there.

What’s compounding this current rough-patch is my inability to ‘ground myself’ in the moment. All of the exercises I’ve used in the past have had little to no effect on me in recent weeks, forcing me to live in a constant heightened state, unable to relax, unable to focus and unable to utilize any of the coping mechanisms I’ve learned over the years.

So, to help ground me in this moment, I’ve decided to spend a little time focusing on some of the positive things that will (hopefully) be occurring throughout the month of November.

1. Melbourne

However much I am dreading the (inevitable) avalanche of negative emotions and memories, I am desperately looking forward to my first “holiday” since 2008!

2. Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary

On the 23rd November 1963, a television series began airing on UK television that, fifty years later, is a world-wide phenomenon. I have been a fan of this television series for twenty-five years and words cannot describe how excited I am by the forthcoming anniversary special.

dw50

3. Arts and Culture

One of the things I’m most looking forward to doing on my return to Melbourne is to revisit the galleries and museums that populate the city. Although these locations were instrumental to my homeless survival, my love affair with them stretches back over eleven years and I am much looking forward to moseying around their hallowed halls once again.

4. I may get to cross “Item 1” from my list of things to do before I die (!)

There is still a big question mark surrounding this as I still need to overcome the financial obstacle in my way, but if I can make this work in the weeks ahead I’m sure to experience happiness of the like I’ve never before experienced! I’ll keep you posted! :p

5. The ocean

It has been nearly four years since I last saw the ocean. I want to stand on the beach and stare out over the inspirational rolling waves. I want to throw off my shoes and feel the seas power between my toes. During my time in Melbourne, this will be possible! :)

6. Monsters University

As with most films these days, I missed this latest Pixar classic on its cinema release and both Meadhbh and I are looking forward to watching it upon its DVD release on the 12 November.

url

7. Federation Square

This architectural wonder has its detractors, but I have loved it since I first visited it way back in 2002. I’ve no doubt that it will be one of the first places I re-visit upon arriving back in Melbourne.

8. Trains

I would never say I was a train-spotter, but ever since journeying the width of Canada by train I’ve loved being on these metallic behemoths. I will be getting to and from Melbourne by train so am gleefully anticipating this part of my trip!

9. Man of Steel

Much like Monsters University above, I missed this movie on its cinema release and am counting down the days for its DVD release next week.

10. The “15 Day Blog Challenge”

Following last month’s 30 Days of Mental Illness Awareness Challenge I’ve decided that working through another blog challenge would be good for my concentration and focus. As I will be heading to Melbourne on the 18th, I decided a short fifteen day challenge would fit nicely into the time schedule so settled on a challenge I found on the blog Life of Love.

15DayChallenge

I will be commencing this challenge on the 1 November 2013…

11. The Unfinished Blog Challenges

I began the 30 Days of Kink challenge in November 2012 and never finished it. Similarly, I began the Try Looking At It Through My Eyes challenge in May of this year and never finished it. Thus, I have decided to complete the remainder of these challenges over the coming weeks. Fingers crossed! :)

12. Being able to say ‘f*** you homeless, I beat your ass’ in the Kings Domain

This was one of my goals for 2013 and I can pretty much guarantee you that, after walking through Federation Square, I will be heading to my old “home” on the first night I’m in Melbourne.

13. My birthday

Generally, I don’t celebrate my birthday in any way, shape or form…but I’m hoping this year I will be able to get through the day with a smile and giggle rather than a frown and grumble. :)

There is a lot that can go wrong…but as long as I continue to focus on what will go right, it could become one of the best months of recent years and knock my current discombobulated mind on its ass.

But like with everything in life, only time will tell what eventuates! :)


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Thirteen book-to-movie adaptations that are actually pretty good!

The 30 Days of Mental Illness Awareness Challenge has meant I’ve been writing a lot about Mental Health over the last few weeks. Although it’s not something I’m ashamed of, for the sake of my own sanity I’ve decided that today’s Thursday Thirteen needed to be about something non-mental health related! :)

After watching a movie, how many of you have ever proclaimed ‘well, it wasn’t as good as the book’?

I’m willing to bet a fair few of you because, let’s be honest, most adaptations are pretty appalling. However, as with everything in life, there are always exceptions.

Thirteen book to movie adaptations that are actually pretty good!

Movie Posters

13. Secretary
Book by: Mary Gaitskill
Film by: Steven Shainberg
A stereotype busting story and a tour-de-force performance by Maggie Gyllenhaal elevates this heart (and bottom) warming film onto the list of great book-to-movie adaptations.

12. Clueless
Book by: Jane Austen (Emma)
Film by: Amy Heckerling
This film, a contemporary adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, is one of the brightest, breeziest and enjoyable of the 90s rom-com selection. Clueless is a master class on how to contemporize a classic work of literature.

11. To Kill a Mockingbird
Book by: Harper Lee
Film by: Robert Mulligan
I first watched this adaptation of Lee’s only published work of fiction whilst studying the book during High School. At the time I wasn’t impressed, but re-watching it years later revealed the nuances, power and intensity of this superb adaptation.

10. Jurassic Park
Book by: Michael Crichton
Film by: Steven Spielberg
Like most book-to-movie adaptations, the film does deviate from the novel in several key areas, but the sheer childish fun of seeing dinosaurs come to life make this film a must watch for any adaptation aficionado.

9. Life of Pi
Book by: Yann Martel
Film by: Ang Lee
Long considered un-filmable, Ang Lee proved all doubters wrong by creating not only one of the best book-to-movie adaptations of recent times but one of the finest (and most beautiful) films of the year.

8. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
Book by: C.S. Lewis
Film by: Andrew Adamson
Although it pales in comparison to the BBC adaptation (ineligible for this list given its television origins), this film version was a beautiful adaptation of the book and introduced (the perfectly cast) Georgie Henley to the world.

7. Trainspotting
Book by: Irvine Welsh
Film by: Danny Boyle
The film that launched Ewan McGregor, Johnny Lee Miller, Ewan Bremner and Robert Carlyle into the national consciousness. This striking adaptation of Boyle’s novel about the heroin subculture in Edinburgh is a film you truly must see before you die.

6. Scott Pilgrim vs The World
Graphic Novel: Bryan Lee O’Malley
Film by: Edgar Wright
I cherish and adore this film more than any other made in the last ten years. Initially watched when I was homeless on the streets of Melbourne, this film inspired me to keep pushing on in my efforts to escape that most vicious of lifestyles. As such, it will always be a film I’ll hold close to my heart.

5. Fight Club
Book by: Chuck Palahniuk
Film by: David Fincher
This is one of my favourite films of all time. A devastating look at identity and consumerism, David Fincher has crafted one of the most consistently stunning, shocking and empowering films ever made and should be considered essential viewing for anyone, least of all those interested in book-to-movie adaptations.

4. Red Riding Trilogy
Books by:  David Peace
Films by: Julian Jarrold, James Marsh and Anand Tucker
David Peace’s quartet of books 1974, 1977, 1980 and 1984 are some of the bleakest, most intensely visceral series of books I’ve read in a long time. The film trilogy adaptation is just as intense, just as dark and equally as captivating. If you’re weak of heart, this may not be the film series for you, but you will be missing out on some of the finest British film-making, ever.

3. Alice in Wonderland
Books by: Lewis Carroll
Film by: Tim Burton

I will admit to hating this film the first time I watched it. I hated Mia Wasikowska as Alice, I hated Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter and I hated what Tim Burton had done to one of my favourite books. However, I recently decided to revisit this movie after having it recommended by several people, and I’m glad I did, for I found it to be one of the most inventive, inspiring, enjoyable and engaging films I’ve seen in a long time.

2. The Lord of the Rings (Extended Editions)
Books by: J.R.R Tolkien
Films by: Peter Jackson

What can be said about this movie trilogy that hasn’t already been said? It is an exceptional masterwork that will be loved and admired for generations to come. A quintessential entry on any great book-to-movie adaptations list.

1. Young Adam
Book by: Alexander Trocchi
Film by: David Mackenzie

I have been an ardent fan of Trocchi’s work for the better part of the last fifteen years and his novel Young Adam is one of my personal favourites. So when I discovered it had been turned into a movie I will admit to approaching it with trepidation. I needn’t have feared, for David Mackenzie has crafted a truly superb book-to-movie adaptation that cannot be missed.

Over to you…what are some of your favourite book-to-movie adaptations?


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World Homeless Day: Thirteen ways you can help the homeless

In addition to being World Mental Health Day, today is also World Homeless Day; a day to draw attention to homeless people’s needs and provide opportunities for the community to get involved in responding to homelessness.

To celebrate World Homeless Day 2013, I have decided to share thirteen ways in which you can help the homeless, most drawn from the five-years I spent as a person experiencing homelessness. This way, you have no excuse for not helping a homeless person on this most necessary (and often forgotten) of days! :)

DSCN0092

My ‘home’, circa 2010 | © Addy

1.  Educate yourself about homelessness
One of the first – and best – things you can do to help the homeless is find out who they really are. They may be someone who has lost their job, someone who is suffering from mental health problems or someone escaping an abusive relationship. They are rarely, if ever, the stereotype of the alcoholic-junkie who has chosen to be homeless that many people continue to believe in.

2. Donate money
This can either be given directly to a homeless person, or preferably via a charitable organisation whose soul aim is to assist the homeless. This money will then be used to provide food, clothing, emergency shelter and other necessary items, all of which go a long way to helping a homeless person on a day-to-day basis.

3. Give food
If a homeless person is asking you for money for food, why not offer to buy them a sandwich or some other foodstuff instead? It is a misconception that every beggar is looking for money for alcohol or drugs, many are simply hungry and will all-too-happily take you up on your generous offer. And remember: if you offer someone a ‘big mac’ and they refuse, they may not be lying to get money out of you, they may simply be a vegetarian or someone who doesn’t like red-meat (see item 12, below)

4.Donate clothing
Never underestimate the importance of a clean pair of socks or deliciously warm jacket. If you’re not comfortable donating money or food, why not donate clothing (or some new pairs of socks) to your local homeless organisation. These are items that are always required and will be most gratefully received.

5. Donate groceries
Homeless charities are always looking for donations of good quality, non-perishable foodstuffs. So why not organise a bag or box and donate them to your local food bank? Better yet, if you work for a food manufacturer, perhaps consider organising a regular donation to assist those most in need.

6. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or soup van
Virtually every major town and city in the world has a soup kitchen or van of some description. Why not take a few hours out of your week to volunteer at one (or both) of these. You’ll not only be nourishing a homeless person’s stomach, but nourishing their soul with your kindness.

7. Buy the Big Issue (or if you’re in the US, Street Sheet)
These magazines are sold by homeless people in virtually every major city. As well as being a cracking read, a percentage of every issue sold goes directly to the homeless person selling them. What could be better than that?

8. Organise a fund-raising event
Why not organise a charity event through your local school or business to help raise funds for your local homeless services. Car boot sales, raffles, trivia nights or cake stalls are always well received by the community, even more so when people know their time and money is going toward such a worthwhile cause.

9. Volunteer your services
Are you a doctor? Lawyer? Dentist? Psychiatrist? A homeless person may require some or all of these services, so why not donate your time to offer your professional services to those who are most in need of it?

10. Educate yourself as to what services are available in your area
Every town and city have organisations whose specific aim is to assist the homeless. If you were to find out where these organisation were and how they helped (i.e. whether it is with food, emergency housing, counseling etc.) you will be able to pass this on to a homeless person as and when the situation arises. Remember, just because they are homeless does not mean they are aware of all the services available to them. Some may just need a helping hand to get their life together again.

11. Don’t ignore a homeless person
Walking past a homeless person and pretending they are not there is cold, callous and shows them a complete lack of respect. Simply acknowledging their presence will be showing them a level of respect that they rarely, if ever, receive.

12. Treat a homeless person as the unique individual they are
Many people continually refer to homeless people as the homeless; a term that strips them off their uniqueness as a human being. A homeless person is just like you, your friends or family members. They have loves, passions, hopes, dreams, aspirations and everything else in between. So why not treat them as the unique and wonderful human being they are?

13. Talk to them
Quite possibly the simplest item on this list, but is still the one many people forget about. A homeless person is not only starved of food and shelter, they are also starved of human contact. The simple act of talking to them will most likely make their day in ways you couldn’t even begin to imagine! :)

RSCN0175

This moment – which saw me realise a life-long dream of hugging a wombat – was taken the same day as the photograph above. It would never have happened without the kindness of the wombat’s keeper, who treated me like a unique individual instead of just another one of ‘the homeless’, | © Addy

A selection of other articles I’ve written about homelessness:


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My thirteen favourite television comedies…of all time!

This week’s Thursday Thirteen kick-starts what will become a semi-regular series looking at an often overlooked form of therapy; laughter therapy.  Everybody  – not just those who suffer from mental health issues – could benefit from a good laugh each and every day.

So today, I countdown my thirteen favourite television comedies of all time…each and every one of them pretty much guaranteed to get your muscles twitching and stress-busting endorphins kicking! :p

Thirteen of my favourite TV comedies

13. My Two Dads

Although it has been over fifteen years since I last saw this show, I still remember it as being one of my favourite comedies when I was an early-teenager. Perhaps it was because I fancied the actress who portrayed the daughter, perhaps it was because Greg Evigan’s beard was magnificent, perhaps it was because I had very little taste when I was younger or perhaps it was because this show was – and is – comedy gold!

12. Community

The fourth series was – let’s be brutally honest – a bit crap, but the first three seasons of this uber-meta series is some of the funniest in modern comedy. A magnificent ensemble cast, multiple examples of boundary-pushing television and the greatest cat gag since Victor Meldrew froze one in his freezer. Unmissable!

11. The IT Crowd

This series, revolving around the misadventures of three IT workers, was recommended to me by Samantha’s sister in 2009. From the moment Richard Ayoade’s Moss shouted “four…five…fire!” I knew I was going to be a fan for life.

10. Blackadder

I’ll be honest, my preference is Blackadder the Second because I have a massive crush on Miranda Richardson’s Queen Elizabeth, but all four seasons (and related specials) of Blackadder are top-notch comedy that should be quintessential viewing for any comedy aficionado.

9. 30 Rock

To place this ninth was a really tough decision. Smartly written, pitch perfect performances, an under-rated Katrina Bowden and the genius that is Tina Fey should be enough for this to be in the top five; but there is just something about it that I can’t put my finger on which is keeping it lower in the list. Not that anyone should take that as a criticism of its worth, for this show is one of the best contemporary comedies around.

8. Dad’s Army

There is something altogether comforting and familiar with this comedy series. Maybe it’s because the show has been around since before I was born, maybe it’s because the writing is as sharp today as it was forty years ago or maybe it’s because the characters are so brilliantly portrayed they feel like your friends. Even though I’ve seen some episodes countless times, this is a comedy I will never tire of.

7. Fawlty Towers

Is there a human being in the Western world who has never seen an episode of this show?  Because if there is, that person needs to stop whatever they’re doing and watch an episode…now! I suggest Communication Problems or Basil the Rat.

6. How I Met Your Mother

Granted, it’s gone on at least one or two seasons too long, but this series has been one of my greatest supports since my breakdown and subsequent mental health issues. I am now firmly attached to each of the characters and am eagerly awaiting the ninth – and final – season to see how it all ends.

5. Spaced

Simon Pegg, Jessica Hynes and Edgar Wright are responsible for one of the funniest, hippest and most intelligent situational comedies that has ever been made. Absolute fried comedy gold!

4. One Foot in the Grave

The show that inspired Bill Cosby’s Cosby contains some of the most inspired ‘reveals’ in comedy history. Who could forget the infamous ‘street lamp through the window’, ‘plant potted in the downstairs toilet’ or ‘pick up the small dog instead of the phone’ gags. But beyond these visual gems, the writing and acting in this show is top notch with a marvelous (almost macabre) balance between comedy and tragedy.

3. Frasier

My primary reason for placing this second is not so much the superb (and intelligent) writing or the brilliant ensemble cast, it is because David Hyde Pierce (Niles) is a comedic genius! Frasier is the one psychiatrist I have no issues with visiting and this show has become one of my primary comforts in times of great (or marginal) distress.

2. Parks and Recreation

There is very little I can write about this show without exhausting synonyms for ‘superb’, ‘magnificent’ or ‘hilarious’. So I shall simply say it’s as close to perfect as any television show should legally be allowed to be.

1. Only Fools and Horses

It’s no surprise to me that this show is consistently voted by both public and critical polls as being one of the greatest series of all time, let alone comedy series. The exploits of the Trotter clan from the humble beginnings to millionaire status and back again has entertained and inspired me since I was a wee bairn.

So how about you? What are your favourite television comedy series?