Manny: You think I should wash my beard?
Bernard: Yes, I think you should wash it. Then you should shave it off, nail it to a frisbee, and fling it over a rainbow.
Following the likeable, low-key How Do You Want Me? (BBC, 1998-99), Irish comedian Dylan Moran's second sitcom was a very different proposition.
Meet Bernard Black. Bernard is an anti-social, heavy drinking chain-smoker who owns a small London bookshop - an unusual vocation, given that he detests customers and delights in physically and verbally abusing them at every opportunity. His best (and only) friend in the world is his lunch time drinking partner Fran, a neurotic and boyfriend-desperate woman who owns the pretentious arts and crafts shop next to his. Bernard is cynical, abrasive and lazy, and is perfectly happy that way - but his life takes an unexpected turn when he sells 'The Little Book of Calm' to hyper-stressed accountant Manny Bianco, who against all odds ends up swallowing it. When the dust is settled, Manny will have a new job, Fran will have a new friend, and Bernard's life will be far more surreal (if that's possible).
Black Books debuted with minimal publicity in September 2000, but quickly became a cult hit on the back of overwhelmingly favourable word of mouth.
From the writer and lead actor Dylan Moran about the show - "We just wanted to cram as much elaborate stupidity into a half-hour that could make it be coherent and that you would believe"