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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!

"you think I'm unemotional … I cried at the end of Terminator 2!"

"you think I'm unemotional … I cried at the end of Terminator 2!"

I have been caught massively enthusing about the genius that is Spaced – the finest sitcom a pop-culture/nerdy obsessed person could ever possibly hope to have. Complete with strong characters all round. It’s so hip it hurts…

Anyway, skip to the end – and some kind soul has put up the first episode of Spaced online on Google Video. So here it is: watch it!

Then buy Spaced: The Collectors Edition from your friendly Amazon UK dealer.

The Young Ones … shouldn't be afwaid…

The Young Ones … shouldn't be afwaid…

Ahhh The Young Ones. That “classic” British TV sitcom about four young students which inspired me to create one of my first websites and FAQ back in 1994. 12 years ago. *gulp*

That website got me to where I am today. Lying in the gutter looking at the Star Bar and dreaming of a time when I was namechecked by Microsoft, Yahoo, Future Publishing and it got my foot in the door at the BBC. Amazing how I still, to this day, get the odd £10/US$50 voucher for sending people to amazon to buy the videos. It probably made more money than most of my dotcom employers in the late 90s.

The Young Ones was the Trojan Horse that allowed alternative comedy to sneak into British television sitcom land, and television comedy was never the same again. Indeed, one can argue that The Young Ones started the process by which traditional sitcoms have now apparently been killed off.

Ironic really, that when you watch The Young Ones again 22 years (!) on, it’s *so* horribly dated in a way that even older sitcoms (eg Fawlty Towers) just hasn’t.

Anyway, that short quick trip down memory lane was just an excuse to link to these video clips – one from the show itself:

An advert for the Young Ones computer game from the mid-80s. The graphics are amazing, the voiceover is an astoundingly bad impersonation of “Vyvyan” – and I still have no idea what you do in the game.

UPDATE: You can download the game, although you will still need a handy Commodore 64 emulator to get it to run on your PC. and there’s a walkthrough on how to play the game – although on the C64 version, there’s a bug which means you can’t win as Rik. That’s what you get for voting Tory.

On with the video clips. This is an MTV commercial for the accompanying album Neil’s Heavy Concept Album. A horrible mash-up of oh-so-British nostalgia and heavy American selling techniques.

(Found via screenhead.com)

And finally,

Is The Office any good?

Is The Office any good?

Now I’ve never liked The Office. I prefer my comedy witty, a tad satirical and with a lot of wordplay – like Blackadder, Frasier, Yes Prime Minister, The Simpsons, Spaced. And Father Ted and The League of Gentlemen just to add to the mix.

Comedy I hate tends to include Gimme Gimme Gimme, and other “cruel” comedies where you’re supposed to laugh at the characters, not with them. Or at least squirm in embarassment as they do stupidly embarassing things.

The Office has none of my personal positives about comedy – and is a little too true to real life to be a comedy, at least in my eyes. Plus it is an utterly cruel comedy. If your boss really was David Brent, you’d be crying, not laughing. Notwithstanding the fact that if I was a paper boss in Slough, I probably *would* be David Brent. Minus the beard, since I could never grow one. Then again, let’s face it, all bloggers have a bit of David Brent in them.

So I’ve had to sit here, a tad frustrated as The Office goes out there, conquers most British people’s hearts and now appears to be slowly conquering the cool part of America.

Proof of this? That singularly witty American publication, The Onion carries an interview with Ricky Gervais. To be fair to the guy, he makes some *excellent* points about the ubiquity of stand-up comedy and catchphrases, and he’s been around long enough not to let fame go to his head. at least in the interview.

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