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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)

Fandoms combining…

Fandoms combining…

In an era where fanfic writers think nothing of plonking the Red Dwarf crew on the Starship Enterprise, or the cast of Spaced in the TARDIS, it shouldn’t really come as that much of a surprise when professional media creators do the same thing.

Thus today, where we discover that Richard Curtis (famed romantic comedy writer behind Love Actually, Four Weddings, Blackadder and the superb and under-rated The Tall Guy) is writing a script for Doctor Who. This has met with a little consternation.

Of course, their fear comes from the possibility that romance might rear its ugly head in Doctor Who. It should, of course, be pointed out that:
– Richard Curtis, for all his faults, is a master at creating characters you like. Albeit middle-class English ones, of various hues and abilities.
– Pretty much all of Steven Moffat‘s celebrated scripts for Doctor Who have had huge dollops of romance in them. Doctor Who fans and Hugo Award adjudicators have lapped them up in their droves.

The news that the Pet Shop Boys have written a song for Shirley Bassey‘s new album also sent my geek fandom radar into overdrive. The Pet Shop Boys write fantastic songs – but let’s face it, Shirley Bassey‘s got a much more powerful voice that deserves to be used.

I hate Richard Curtis

I hate Richard Curtis

I just went to see Love Actually, the new film from Richard Curtis, the comedic dude behind Blackadder, The Tall Guy, and of course Four Weddings and a f**king funeral.

I hate Richard Curtis precisely because he’s a shameless manipulator of all that I hold near and dear – and even though I totally know it’s a silly fantasy land, I still end up buying into it, caring for the characters and there’s even the odd tear in my eye.

Despite the fact that I know it’s a ridiculous fantasy world where everyone is middle-class, speaks posh English and is remarkably civil to each other, it’s a world I cherish and want to live in because:

  • People fall in love with each other in the end. And sometimes at the beginning.
  • It’s London. And not the grotty sometimes dirty London I know, but the lovely bit of London where I can point and excitedly say “I had lunch there once!” to my very bored companions
  • It’s a middle-class London that I like the look of. Never mind the fact that they don’t talk to anyone of the working-classes – and until Love Actually, it was an overwhelmingly white world
  • It’s a world where nobody seems to have a crap job
  • Everyone speaks wittily, charmingly, and self-depreciatingly. Just like me. Except when I make a gag against me, people take it seriously. Damn.

I made the misfortune of seeing Notting Hill after one pint. And I came out of the cinema raving about two particular camera shots in the film. How sad is that?

Anyway, how was the film? Pretty OK. The moments with Colin hunting for girls in America was laughably realistic to me – at least up to the point when the girls laughing at Colin’s voice were ridiculously sexy. And of course, no Essex boy would go to Wisconsin! Still the weakest storyline of the lot.

Surprised no-one’s transcribed Hugh Grant as Prime Minister’s inspirational speech basically telling the American President that “we’re” standing up for ourselves.

Oh, and another reason to hate Richard Curtis – he’s with Emma Freud, who in her time was the most intelligent, beautiful and charismatic TV presenter and the best DJ Radio 1 ever had. Bring her back, I say!

Why do I like Romantic Comedies and Richard Curtis?

Why do I like Romantic Comedies and Richard Curtis?

Just caught the trailer for Love Actually – the new romantic multi-story comedy from Richard Curtis, the genius behind Blackadder (with Ben Elton), Four Weddings And A Funeral and Notting Hill. Even has a cool storyline with Hugh Grant the Prime Minister falling in love with the tea lady…

Lord knows that I should stay away from romantic comedies like the proverbial plague … it’ll only get my hopes up that my love life will be like the movies with soaring camerawork and orchestral music, when it’s far more likely to be like the famed Andy Warhol 8-hour film of a man sleeping. Alone…

Anyway, watching the trailer – which is OK, but has *no* anthemic shots of London, which is terrible – it reminded me of my movie going experience of seeing Notting Hill with my friend Lisa. I’d had one pint, no food and went in. And apparently I kept spotting parts of London I knew, garbling on about that, and then there were two fantastic camera shots and visual sequences which I thought were the height of British commercial cinema, and couldn’t help raving about it when I came out.

Really ought to go to the cinema more often. Although no doubt I should actually be barred from the cinema, if I’m rating Notting Hill…

Maybe I should leave my obsession with Richard Curtis’s work and his wife Emma Freud for another time…

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