There’s also the rare example of that odd Peter Serafinowicz special which took old sketches from his show a year or two earlier (with no audience) and added recorded laughter over them, possibly as some kind of test pilot for a potential future series with an audience.
Wikipedia suggests that the special was a completely new episode, so either I’m misremembering or they added some new sketches to it as well to stop it just being a clip show.
There were two Peter Serafinowicz specials at Christmas 2008 - a one-off with all-new sketches, plus also a best of the series, linked by new material with Peter as Wogan and, like the new special, with audience laughter.
The special was a bit interesting as while the series was entirely parodies, the special had some more conventional sketches, so it looked like a genuine attempt to make a slightly more accessible show for a recommission. Not that it got one. (Although I seem to recall they did have screenings to record audience laughter for the series, but decided not to use it in the end )
Series 2 of Partridge is a very strange series, there are loads of funny bits in it but it is absolutely all over the place tonally. It feels like a cartoon, I would love to know what went on behind the scenes, because there are some very strange edits.
I remember reading about the Dante Fireplaces scene in a preview of the series and thinking it sounded demented but presumably it wouldn't be that weird on screen. Turns out it was even stranger than I anticipated, it is very funny but absolutely bizarre.
But they were right to do it in front of an audience, it is a larger than life show that only intended to make people laugh. The material should be presented in the most effective way. In David Mitchell's book he talks about the sitcom pilot they did for C4 before Peep Show, they did it in front of an audience as part of C4's Sitcom Festival as a try-out and it went really well, but when they filmed it for the telly, they didn't. And he says that was the wrong decision, because it fell flat, and didn't get picked up for a series.