After two highly successful seasons and a DVD release in Britain, BBC is finally giving us Americans the home version of the `less refined' nature of the British population. Not all "tea and crumpets" this or "jolly good" that, this comedy sketch series brings us two actors who morph into a myriad of more than one hundred and twenty different characters -- all who would give the Queen heart palpitations and are guaranteed to bring laughter to your living room. Although still foreign to most Americans these characters and their infectious catch phrases are already imbedded in the British lexicon. The whole show relies heavily on these character catch phrases and scenes full of running jokes repeating and trumping themselves in different contexts -- much similar to how real British `characters' act in real life just personified and embellished here by the amazingly diverse Matt Lucas and David Willams. Just reading the lines, situations, descriptions, and catch phrases won't do much for you. It's Matt and David's ability to bring these characters to life that will leave you laughing and repeating the lines with your friends. Walk into a pub, or grammar school, or store in Britain and you'll certainly hear many of them repeated. Share this series with your friends and you'll have a whole new vocabulary to share. A selection of characters follows:
"I want that one."
Not-so-wheelchair-bound Andy, and his long-suffering, volunteer caregiver Lou are the favorite characters of many. Although the formula for their running gag is always predictable, that's the point. Will Andy ever learn Lou knows what he wants better than he does himself? Will Lou ever stop enabling Andy' s strange whims? Will Lou ever discover Andy doesn't need the wheelchair Lou's been pushing all these years? Probably not, and that running gag is the recipe for their relationship and humor. The boys up the ante early on in the running gag department when Lou memorably takes Andy to the public pool.
"Yeahbutnobutyeahbutnobut, Shut up!"
Juvenile delinquent Vicky Pollard whose fast talking and nearly incomprehensible speech patter will have you grabbing for the remote to enable to subtitles option. Unlike Brits who watched this show on BBC, you'll actually be able to find out what she's rambling about. She'd swap her baby for a "boy band" CD and stabs out a cigarette in each episode. Part of the humor is the adults around her still trying to treat her babbling as normal communication and obviously missing some of the outrageous things that come out of her mouth -- things you'll just be able to catch. She's every parent's worst nightmare and is one character you definitely have to experience for yourself.
"I am the only gay in the village."
Dafydd is convinced, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that he is the only gay in his small mining village of Llanddewi Brefi. The most funny part of these sketches aren't the sight gags of Dafydd's rotund body sausaged into the next rubber/mesh/pleather outfit (each one more outrageous than the last) and the village people's indifference to his appearance in them, though you'll definitely laugh out loud at their sight. It's the small mining townspeople's comfort level at saying the most colored, cheeky, and outrageous things to Dafydd while conversing with him. Although everyone in the village tries to identify other gays for Dafydd to socialize with, Dafydd's self-identity is based around being "the only gay in the village" and keeps him isolated from some really good fun.
"The Prime Minister is Gorgeous!"
Government Aide Sebastian who is hopelessly in love with his boss the Prime Minister of Great Britain (expertly played by Anthony Head) gets it's humor from the audience trying to decide if the PM is aware of Sebastian's obvious crush and trying to decipher his dead pan looks. Each time Sebastian goes further over the line, you're convinced a sacking is next on the agenda.
"Eh, eh, ehhh."
Anne the perhaps-not-so-mental patient in the Stephen Speilburg Hospital is under the watchful care of Dr. Morris. While `innocently' destroying everything around him/her, can only utter the phrase eh, eh, ehhh . . . unless talking on the cellphone with friends.
"Mayyyyybe yes, mayyyybe no."
The looney Innkeeper of the Ye Olde Hotel in Scotland and his magic flute. He can never give you a straight answer to your questions but will punctuate his responses with a few puffs on his flute. The humor lies in the fact that everyone in Scotland acts like this, right?
"Dust is low in fat so you can eat as much dust as you like."
Marjorie Dawes is the less than slender leader of the local chapter of Fat Fighters. In what can only be described as misdirected self-loathing she viciously belittles the members of her weight loss group who still keep coming back week after week. How this woman keeps her job is unknown. The acid interaction she has with the ever returning members of the group, especially Mira and Paul, provides the most humor.
Other reoccurring characters don't have catch phrases but still have their running gags nonetheless. Just a selection of these follow:
The schoolteacher at Kelsey Grammar school who confuses his students more than teaching them . . . Royal correspondent Peter Andr' who is in love with Princess Anne and also not right in the head . . . a quick peek behind the writing process will have you wondering how Dame Sally Markham ever became a famous novelist . . . Hypnotist Kenny Craig who is not afraid to use his talents to get whatever he wants. Just be careful not to look into his eyes . . .the former actor Sir Bernard Chumley who eats his invalid sister Kitty's Meals on Wheels. "I didn't push her," he claims even when not asked . . . Edward Grant is the schoolteacher who married one of his former pupils Samantha and still treats her as such. . . Dennis Waterman the pint sized actor who insists on writing and performing his own awful sounding theme tunes. The humor here is in the running "scale of objects" gag . . . Denver Mills the Olympic medalist who should really forget his new career in speech giving and stick to running . . . Des Kaye the ex-children's television star who's not adjusting well to loosing his show and taking a job at the "Do It Yourself" shop.
Other characters include Emily Howard the unconvincing transvestite who "is a lady and likes ladies things" still utters one of the most memorable and more quotable (though sadly not printable here) lines in the show when he's told before an getting an x-ray he must cover his `meat and two vedge' with a lead shield. "But I'm a lady," he protests, "I don't have (insert feminized version of `two vegetables' here). Jason, the bloke who fancies his friend' Gary's grandmother in the worst way is soooo wrong, very wrong, but you're compelled to watch anyway. Most of these skits veer deeply into the PG-13 category so you'd want to pack the little ones off to bed before breaking it out or you'll have you toddler repeating the most embarrassing phrases.
While the intro to each weekly episode is the same visually, it's the different voiceovers narrated by Tom Baker, of Dr. Who fame, that will elicit quite a chuckle. Baker introduces each sketch in a funny voiceover as well and closes each episode after a funny version of the latest, failed world record attempt. Baker's voiceovers are the glue that tie the whole show together and are just as humorous as the skits themselves.
For those of you who like Bonus features, you will not be disappointed here. There is a commentary track for each episode on this disk by Matt and David; surprisingly deadpan, you may miss the humor if you're not listening carefully. Also included are the Pilot Episode, Deleted Scenes, a hysterical television interview with Matt and David, a "Character Playlist" that will allow you to view an edited version of some of your favorite character's sketches in their running order. One warning when selecting "Lou & Andy." You'll have to tell Lou "Yes" twice that you want to "crash the disc" but NOT three times or your disc will indeed crash (it's not permanent). Try it once if you like and then simply eject the disc and reinsert to go back to the main menu. In the "Extras" section on the second disc, you'll get to see what Matt and David were up to prior to this series when you view the "Best of Rock Profiles" -- hilarious non-impressions of famous (and some local British) musical artists. "How to Make a Little Britain" is the behind-the-scenes feature that chronicles the filming of all eight episodes over the time span of 40 days. The "Teenage Cancer Trust Sketches" are fun to watch and the "Radio 5 Interview" will give you more inside scoop. "What Does Britain Mean to You?" is a collection of man-on-the-street interviews with the characters humorously answering the question while poking fun at themselves in the process.