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A BritCom blast from the past

A BritCom blast from the past

Back in the 1980s/1990s when I was very very interested in British comedy, I used to collect the odd scrapbook of newspaper/magazine articles of anything related to Blackadder et. al. This was mostly because this was pre-Internet, and I was stuck in mid-Wales and thus very much out of the loop. (Although ironically, I’m now living in West London, working for the BBC and still as out of the loop as ever. Who’s this Miranda woman?)

Fortunately, some kind person has seen fit to share their collection of articles from that time with the world by scanning it all in and posting it to that there Internet. So if you want to revisit articles about comedy gems from Absolutely to Whose Line Is It Anyway (by way of Alan Davies, Ardal O’Hanlon, Ben Elton, Blackadder, Comic Relief, Eddie Izzard, Frank Skinner, French and Saunders, Fry and Laurie, Harry Enfield, Have I Got News For You, Ian Hislop, Jack Dee, Jo Brand, Julian Clary, Monty Python, Paul Merton, Peter Cook, Private Eye, Rab C Nesbitt, Red Dwarf, Reeves and Mortimer, Richard Curtis, Rik Mayall,
Robbie Coltrane, Rory Bremner, Rowan Atkinson, Ruby Wax, Spitting Image, Steve Coogan, The Fast Show, The Mary Whitehouse Experience, The Young Ones / The Comic Strip Presents, Tony Slattery and Victoria Wood), pop along to this list of scans from tourmaline1973.

(Really ought to revive my British Comedy Library site one of these days)

Blast from the archives

Blast from the archives

Gawd bless Google Video, and all who use her. For she has put up on the web a classic episode from Saturday Live, the LWT show that helped to bring then-alternative comedy (and people like Ben Elton) into the living rooms of 1980s Britain.

Never mind that it was probably 25 (!) years ago!

Get a grip? Get a new presenter!

Get a grip? Get a new presenter!

So Get A Grip heralds Ben Elton’s return to stand-up comedy – with a funky female sidekick to act as a younger hipper person to his old-dad persona…

So it’s a bit of a shame that it hits off with a quick comedy skit about the effectiveness of spam. Gosh, that’s so 21st century. No, it hasn’t been done to death by every other comedian up to now… Plus, for a supposedly topical TV comedy show, to go on about the Diana conspiracy theory doesn’t exactly scream of bang up-to-date comedy.

And it just gets worse. Alexa Chung might be ok at reading off an autocue, but she certainly doesn’t seem human doing it – couldn’t they get a funky young female sidekick who actually looks capable of responding to Ben ad hoc instead of reading from a script? (Shame I have to diss her really – how often do you get half-Chinese people on prime-time ITV?) Hell, she looks like Tracy Barlow as she smiles there watching her ranting sidekick go on. Plus, someone should have told her that one of the first rules of comedy is not to smile and laugh at your own jokes.

Ben hasn’t exactly moved on either – all the comedy sketch interludes are almost exactly the same format from his BBC series The Man From Auntie (which was 17 years ago), right down to the upside down chins. He’s kept his ranty persona – but now it sounds like the old dad (that he is), rather than anyone actually funny.

Producers of Get A Grip, there is one thing you can do which would make it so damn better. Get them out from behind the desk – it might make the show just a little more dynamic instead of having two people just sat there reading off an autocue.

Of course, this followed the hilarious comedy City Lights which had our two main characters hounded out of your house after witnessing a gangland killing. ITV’s Wednesday comedy night has some way to go methinks.

PS: I would link to my superlative Ben Elton website at this point, but I’ve got no idea where it’s gone. Such is the way of old web sites.

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