Cosby Title Screen.png
Genre Sitcom
Based on One Foot in the Grave
by David Renwick
Developed by Dennis Klein
Theme music composer
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 96 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
  • Bill Cosby
  • Dennis Klein
  • Norman Steinberg
  • Tom Straw
  • Marcy Carsey
  • Joanne Curley-Kerner
  • Caryn Mandabach
  • John Rogers
  • Peter Tortorici
  • Tom Werner
Production location(s) Kaufman Astoria Studios
Astoria, New York, U.S.
Camera setup Videotape; Multi-camera
Running time 22 minutes
Production company(s)
Distributor Carsey-Werner Distribution
Original network CBS
Audio format Stereo
Original release September 16, 1996 (1996-09-16) –
April 28, 2000 (2000-04-28)
External links

Cosby is an American sitcom television series broadcast on CBS from September 16, 1996, until April 28, 2000. The program starred Bill Cosby and Phylicia Rashad, who had previously worked together in the 1984–1992 NBC sitcom The Cosby Show. Madeline Kahn portrayed their neighborly friend, Pauline, until her death in 1999. The series is loosely based on the British sitcom One Foot in the Grave airing on BBC from 1990 until 2001. This was also the second and final sitcom that Madeline Kahn made for The Carsey-Werner Company, her first being Oh Madeline (based on the British sitcom Pig in the Middle) in 1983.


Set at corner of 33rd Ave and 1539 Blake St.[1] Astoria in Queens, Cosby portrayed grumpy Hilton Lucas, a New York City man forced into early retirement from his job as an airline customer service agent. His wife Ruth was again played by Phylicia Rashad. Initially, Telma Hopkins was cast as Ruth Lucas; however, she was recast after she reacted poorly to Cosby's tendency to ad lib. The couple had one daughter, Erica Lucas, initially portrayed by Audra McDonald and later portrayed by T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh. Doug E. Doug played Griffin Vesey, a foster son the Lucas family took in when he was younger. Griffin occasionally tried to win Erica's affections, but they decided just to remain friends when in the fourth and final season, Darien Sills-Evans portrayed Darien Evans, Erica's fiancé/husband. Jurnee Smollett also joined the cast as 11-year-old Jurnee, whom Hilton adored.

The show was based on the concept from the BBC series One Foot in the Grave, starring Richard Wilson and Annette Crosbie. David Renwick, the creator and writer of One Foot in the Grave, was listed as a consultant of Cosby. One Foot in the Grave was notable for containing dark humor for a mainstream sitcom. The tone was significantly lightened for Cosby, although certain controversial scenes, such as a scene in which the lead character incinerates a live tortoise, albeit by accident, were recreated (though, in this version, with a turtle).[2]

A notable later episode was the fourth-season premiere, "My Spy", which showed Hilton watching an episode of I Spy (the 1960s series in which Cosby co-starred) and then dreaming an adventure with Robert Culp's character from that series.[3][4] The same season also presented an episode entitled "Loving Madeline" which featured the standard opening credits for the series but was in fact a tribute to Kahn featuring the cast members out of character discussing the recently deceased actress, punctuated by clips from past episodes.[5]

Cosby premiered to an audience of more than 24.7 million viewers,[6] but averaged 16 million viewers during the course of the season.[7] As the series progressed, ratings shrank and CBS, fresh with new hit comedies in Everybody Loves Raymond and The King of Queens, decided to move the series from Monday to Wednesday[8][9] and eventually Friday.[10] The moves led to a drop in ratings. At the end of the fourth season, having accumulated enough episodes for the show to enter reruns, Cosby and CBS executive Leslie Moonves mutually decided to end the series. The last episode, "The Song Remains the Same", aired on April 28, 2000, and was the 96th episode to be produced and broadcast, drawing just over 7 million viewers.[11]


Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
1 25 September 16, 1996 (1996-09-16) May 19, 1997 (1997-05-19)
2 24 September 15, 1997 (1997-09-15) May 18, 1998 (1998-05-18)
3 25 September 21, 1998 (1998-09-21) May 17, 1999 (1999-05-17)
4 22 September 29, 1999 (1999-09-29) April 28, 2000 (2000-04-28)



The series was distributed by Carsey-Werner Distribution for broadcast syndication for the 2000–2001 television season, where it ran until the fall of 2004; after that point it was offered in low-cost barter arrangements. TBS shortly thereafter ran reruns of the series for about two years. In March 2010, gmc (the current UP Network) began airing the show, but as a family network with religious ownership, removed some episodes and edited some content in episodes to meet the network's mores. It began to air on Bounce TV in January 2015, but was removed from air on July 7, 2015, when records were made public regarding allegations of Cosby's sexual assault against several women.[12] Two seasons are available through Hoopla.

Nielsen ratings

Cosby was considered to be a ratings success for CBS, winning its time slot of Monday, 8:00 PM in households and viewers for the first three seasons.[13]

Season Timeslot (EST) Episodes Rank Viewers
(in millions)
1 Monday 8:00 pm (September 16, 1996 – May 19, 1997) 25 #21 16.0[13]
2 Monday 8:00 pm (September 15, 1997 – May 18, 1998) 24 #28[14] 13.8[14]
3 Monday 8:00 pm (September 21, 1998 – May 17, 1999) 25 #35 12.5
4 Wednesday 8:00 pm / Friday 8:30 pm (September 29, 1999 – April 28, 2000) 21 #82[15] 8.4[15]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Result Category Recipient
1997 BMI Film & TV Awards Won BMI TV Music Award Bill Cosby and Benny Golson
1998 BMI TV Music Award Bill Cosby and Benny Golson[16]
1997 Emmy Award Nominated Outstanding Technical Direction/Camera/Video for a Series Theodore Ashton, Neal Carlos, Tom Conkright, Stephen A. Jones, Ritch Kenney, Karl Messerschmidt, and J.A. Stuewe Prudden (For pilot episode)[17]
1998 Won Outstanding Lighting Direction (Electronic) for a Comedy Series Alan Walker (For pilot episode)[18]
1997 NAACP Image Awards Won Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series Phylicia Rashad[19]
Outstanding Comedy Series
1998 Nominated Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh[20]
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Doug E. Doug[20]
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Phylicia Rashad[21]
Outstanding Comedy Series
1999 Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Doug E. Doug[22]
1996 Won Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress Jurnee Smollett[23]
Outstanding Comedy Series
2000 Nominated Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Doug E. Doug
Won Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress Jurnee Smollett[24]
1997 People's Choice Awards Won Favorite Television New Comedy Series
1999 Satellite Awards Nominated Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Comedy or Musical Phylicia Rashad
1999 TV Guide Awards Nominated Favorite Actor in a Comedy Bill Cosby[26]
2000 Favorite Actress in a Comedy Phylicia Rashad[27]
Favorite Actor in a Comedy Bill Cosby[27]


  1. ^ S01 E09 - No Nudes is Good Nudes
  2. ^ Kamm, Juergen; Neumann, Birgit (eds.). British TV Comedies: Cultural Concepts, Contexts and Controversies. p. 275. doi:10.1057/9781137552952. ISBN 1137552956.
  3. ^ Mills, Nancy (January 30, 1994). "Culp, Cosby Take Another Turn at the Spy Game". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  4. ^ Brexton, Greg (March 26, 2010). "Culp & Cosby: A special bond". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  5. ^ "'Cosby' To Pay Tribute to Kahn". Associated Press. December 10, 1999. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  6. ^ Lowry, Brian (September 18, 1996). "Fall TV: Prime-Time Profile". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  7. ^ Lowry, Brian (September 25, 1996). "'Cosby' Ratings Off a Little". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  8. ^ "'Raymond' Round 2". August 11, 1997. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  9. ^ Lowry, Brian (May 19, 1999). "CBS Plans to Move 'Cosby' to New Night". LA Times. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  10. ^ Jicha, Tom (April 11, 1990). "'Cosby' Ties 'Roseanne' for Season's Top Spot". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  11. ^ Adalian, Josef (March 23, 2000). "Eye says goodbye to 'Cosby'". Variety.
  12. ^ Steiner, Amanda Michelle (July 7, 2015). "Bill Cosby reruns pulled from BET's Centric, Bounce TV". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  13. ^ a b "CBS and Bill Cosby Announce Finale for 'COSBY'". CBS. Associated Press. March 24, 2000. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  14. ^ a b "The Final Countdown". Entertainment Weekly Published in issue #434 May 29, 1998. May 29, 1998. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  15. ^ a b "Top TV Shows For 1999–2000 Season". Variety.
  16. ^ "BMI Film/TV Awards: 1998". BMI Awards. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  17. ^ "Outstanding Technical Direction/Camera/Video for a Series - 1997". Emmys. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  18. ^ "Outstanding Lighting Direction (Electronic) for a Comedy Series". Emmys. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  19. ^ "Ebony's 50th Anniversary Show, Denzel Washington Among NAACP Image Award Wineers". Jet. Vol. 91 no. 15. March 3, 1997. p. 58-61.
  20. ^ a b c d "The 29th NAACP Image Awards Official Ballot". The Crisis. Vol. 104 no. 3. p. 24.
  21. ^ Kondek, Joshua; Angela, Yvonne Jones (1999). Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. 26. Gale. p. 355.
  22. ^ "The 31st NAACP Image Awards Presents: Image 2000 Vision for a New Millennium". The Crisis. Vol. 107 no. 6. p. 28.
  23. ^ "NAACP Image Awards, 1999". The Crisis. Vol. 102 no. 2. April 1999. p. 37.
  24. ^ "Award Recipients". The Crisis. Vol. 107 no. 2. April 2000. p. 43.
  25. ^ Chapman, Ken; James, Anthony (2005). The Shoulders of Giants. iUniverse. ISBN 0-595-34086-5.
  26. ^ "Polls Show Black Celebs Start New Year Among Best and Biggest in Show Business". Jet. January 18, 1999. p. 56.
  27. ^ a b "Television Guide". Vol. 48. Triangle Publications. 2000. Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)

External links