Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Pick of the Night

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Pick of the Night

Article excerpt


Little Britain 9.30pm, BBC1

DID anyone actually watch French And Saunders? You know, the series that ended last week? Dawn and Jen, with loads of dressing up and smug luvvie cheeriness? Does that ring any bells?

Thought not. The six episodes of French And Saunders dropped into, and out of, the schedules with barely a ripple. More people watched (or certainly remembered) that perfume ad with Nicole Kidman than paid any attention to F&S.

Want to dodge the same fate next time, ladies? Then tear a leaf from Little Britain's grubby book.

Superficially, Little Britain is pretty similar to French And Saunders. No, really - think about it. They're both sketchdriven two-handers with a ton of makeup and cross-dressing. But what makes one ping and the other one pong?

It's a lack of complacency, really. This second telly series of Little Britain could have rested on its laurels by pumping out something cosy to accompany its switch to BBC1. That's the French and Saunders path - smooth, easy and dull.

But where F&S have diluted over the years, Matt Lucas and David Walliams just seem to be getting more concentrated.

Rarely have both meanings of "gag" been used so well - some rounds in this opening salvo will have you choking simultaneously with mirth and the desire to vomit. It's comedy that both squats in a seaside postcard tradition and gleefully undercuts it.

Favourites such as transvestite Emily Howard and only-gay-in-the-village Daffydd get a new queasy spin (watch for Ruth Madoc as his mam), while fresh characters like WI ladies Judy and Maggie (above) and sex-kitten-run-to-blubber Bubbles DeVere stretch TV acceptability to stomachchurning limits.

Patchy, strange, twitchy and unsettling, it's ludicrous, gut-thumpingly funny stuff.

Fighting Talk 7. …

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