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For other uses, see Cosby (disambiguation).
Cosby Title Screen.png
Cosby title card
Genre Sitcom
Based on One Foot in the Grave 
by David Renwick
Developed by Dennis Klein
Starring Bill Cosby
Phylicia Rashād
T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh
Doug E. Doug
Madeline Kahn (1996–1999)
Jurnee Smollett (1998–2000)
Darien Sills Evans (1999–2000)
Theme music composer Bill Cosby
Benny Golson
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 95 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Bill Cosby
Dennis Klein
Norman Steinberg
Tom Straw
Producer(s) Marcy Carsey
Joanne Curley-Kerner
Caryn Mandabach
John Rogers
Peter Tortorici
Tom Werner
Running time 22 mins. (approx)
Original channel CBS
Audio format Stereo
Original run September 16, 1996 – April 28, 2000

Cosby is an American situation comedy television series broadcast on CBS from September 16, 1996, to April 28, 2000, loosely based on the British sitcom One Foot in the Grave. The program stars Bill Cosby and Phylicia Rashād, who previously worked with Cosby in the 1984–1992 NBC sitcom The Cosby Show. Madeline Kahn portrayed their neighbor, Pauline, until her death in 1999.


Cosby portrays grumpy Hilton Lucas, a New York City man forced into early (and unwanted) retirement from his job as an airline customer service agent. His wife Ruth is played by Phylicia Rashād. Initially, Telma Hopkins was cast as Ruth Lucas; however, she was recast after she didn't react well 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, were recreated (albeit with a turtle in this case).[citation needed]

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. 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 (this is similar to what an earlier sitcom, Barney Miller, did following the death of cast member Jack Soo in the late 1970s).

Cosby premiered to an audience of more than 24.7 million viewers, but averaged 16 million viewers, during the course of the season. 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 and eventually Friday.[citation needed] The moves led to a drop in ratings and, frustrated by declining ratings and the move, 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 95th episode to be produced and broadcast, drawing just over 7 million viewers.


Nielsen ratings[edit]

Cosby was considered to be a ratings success for CBS, winning it time slot of Monday, 8:00 PM in households and viewers for the first three seasons.[1]

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



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. It remains in much more limited syndication as of 2012. TBS shortly thereafter ran reruns of the series for about two years. In March 2010, gmc (formerly Gospel Music Channel) television network began airing the show, but omitted several episodes, including S1 Ep. 5 and S2 Ep. 5, presumably because the topics (prostitution and gay rights) were deemed inappropriate for the audience. The show was placed on hiatus several times and has not been seen since spring 2012.

Awards and nominations[edit]

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
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)
1998 Won Outstanding Lighting Direction (Electronic) for a Comedy Series Alan Walker (For pilot episode)
1997 NAACP Image Awards Won Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series Phylicia Rashād
Outstanding Comedy Series
1998 Nominated Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Doug E. Doug
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Phylicia Rashād
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
Won Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress Jurnee Smollett
Outstanding Comedy Series
2000 Nominated Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Doug E. Doug
Won Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress Jurnee Smollett
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 Rashād
1999 TV Guide Awards Nominated Favorite Actor in a Comedy Bill Cosby
2000 Favorite Actress in a Comedy Phylicia Rashād
Favorite Actor in a Comedy Bill Cosby


  1. ^ a b "CBS and Bill Cosby Announce Finale for 'COSBY'". CBS Television. March 24, 2000. Retrieved February 24, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "The Final Countdown". Entertainment Weekly Published in issue #434 May 29, 1998. May 29, 1998. Retrieved January 9, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b "Top TV Shows For 1999–2000 Season". Variety. Retrieved January 9, 2010. 

External links[edit]