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4.7 out of 5 stars107
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 26 February 2003
Written and performed by Alan Cumming and Forbes Masson, The High Life tells of Air Scotia's most useless cabin crew twosome, camp alcoholic Sebastian (Cumming) and insecure sex-obsessed Steve (Masson), and their various escapades. This six-part series was a product of a pilot (pun intended) for Comic Asides, which was eventually reworked as Episode Four in the series (Choob). This is not everyone's cup of tea, but if your thing is pantoesque quickfire dialogue, bitchy quips and much alliteration aplenty you will LOVE it.
Highlights include the gorgeously camp Batman spoof in the final episode, the Eurovision Song Contest entry "Pif Paf Pof (I Want To Have It Off)", complete with black lycra cycling shorts, and the hilarious opening titles and theme song, also written by Cumming and Masson. Siobhan Redmond is also fabulous as head air steward Shona Spurtle - "Hitler in tights".
A truly original comedy gem that should have been given a second series, before Cummings went Hollywood-bound.
Dearie me!
0Comment81 of 82 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
There are many barmy moments of deranged genius in this series. I watched it both times it was aired on the BBC, loved it to pieces and was delighted to find it finally on DVD at a VERY low price.
Wonderful characters: Captain Hilary Duff - part-Volcan, lamenting his marital difficulties 'she didn't understand me, she's from Sri Lanka', and always having to be reminded that he's meant to be piloting the plane to Heathrow. Shona Spurtal - Chief Stewardess - aka Mussolini in Micromesh, Hitler in Tights or Goebals in a Gossard. Steve McCracken - ginger haired, sex-starved with a passion for finding ever elusive passion. Sebastian Flight - Bitchy fellow steward with Eurovision stardom pretension, composer of that fabulous null-point corker 'Piff Paff Poff'. Cameo roles by such luminaries as Guy Wersh - Scottish rock star 'Pushing 30.... Years in showbiz, babe!', composer of classic albums such as 'Badger Ma Tadger' by the Ganting Screechs. And so on.
Really hilarious, perfect viewing for those evenings when you need to recover from your soul-destroying job. Just think, it could be worse - you could be a trolley-dolly driven to cabin-aisle performances of Bolero in a cleaning pinny to liven up the early hours... Oh deary me!
0Comment16 of 16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 8 February 2009
I saw this hilarious Scottish comedy around 10 years ago on BBC America. If I'd known I would never see it again (until the new release date), I would have recorded it then. It was never released on DVD in America and the discontinued British release was too expensive. So I've just kept checking for a new release. Huzzah! Words can't really describe the twisted hilarity and (for some) impenetrable Scottishness of this show. Too bad they didn't make more episodes, but at least it's finally available again.
0Comment17 of 17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 12 January 2005
I almost wet my undies with excitment when I found this on DVD! After years of watching an increasingly poor quality taped off telly video this DVD was Heaven sent.
Camp and hilariously funny, with a theme tune so catchy you'll be singing it for weeks, this wonderful comedy never really got the attention it deserved, each episode is 30 minutes of non-stop laughter you'll not regred buying.
There were rumours of a 2nd series being written, but alas that never got made... the cast are now stars of Eastenders, Holby City, The Smoking Room and even James Bond films!
Watch it and feel how much you're friends get anooyed with you when you keeping quoting "Oh deary me!" every five minites - excellent.
0Comment10 of 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 2 April 2003
At long last, the BBC has finally come to its senses and has decided to share one of its funniest (and most underrated) sitcoms of the nineties with the DVD-owning public. I have even ordered TWO copies in case one should get ruined. And at least I won't now have to spend hours on my computer (illegally) transferring my precious, but ropey VHS copies of the series to MPEG files!!
The High Life somehow manages to combine pre-school-age humour, playground sexual innuendo, amusing tongue twisters Ronnie Barker would be proud of, surreal visual jokes (often involving the equally surreal Captain Duff), Blackadder-style sarcasm (spewing from and more often directed towards chief purser, Shona Spurtle) and camp song-and-dance numbers. It all sounds a horrible mess - but it isn't, mainly due to the convincing and intelligent dialogue, highly inventive storylines and the superb comic acting of the main cast.
Written by and starring Alan Cumming & Forbes Masson, the show's central characters Sebastian Flight & Steve McCracken were based heavily on their famous (in Scotland anyway) comedy alter egos, Victor and Barry. Along with Naked Video, Chewin' The Fat and Absolutely, the High Life further illustrates the rich vein of Scottish humour that is all-too-often ignored by the television schedulers south-of-the-border.
I think the greatest strength of this show however is that it doesn't have any feeling of nastiness and cruelty that many other modern British comedies seem to leave the viewer with. And it doesn't take itself too seriously either like American comedies are prone to with their heavy moralising.
All the six episodes are equally funny. FEART and WINCH are my own personal favourites and DUNK obviously found its inspiration in a famous American super-hero comedy series of the sixties.
As stated before, every actor is brilliant but special mention should go to Siobhan Redmond's Shona Spurtle (or Mussolini In Micromesh as Sebastian once called her!). Anyone who is only familiar with her straight acting roles will be very pleasantly surprised. Forbes Masson's Steve is a lovesick no-hoper, Patrick Ryecart's Hilary Duff is on another planet (and the only English character - tut, tut!) and of course, Alan Cumming's Sebastian is the embodiment of vitriolic screaming bitchery!! It's a shame Hollywood beckoned Mr Cumming so soon; otherwise we might have been lucky enough to have had a second series. Most people I know consider the High Life to still be his finest hour!
Tell your friends about this great sitcom. Buy this DVD. Forget that, follow my example and buy two!!!
0Comment22 of 23 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 28 May 2003
This series has been a long, long time coming out - but it's well worth the wait. It must surely be one of the most under-rated comedy shows around.
The writing is superb, and quite unlike any other show of the genre. All the leads are excellent in their respective roles and the whole show has the feel and (dare I say) quality of being less "regional" than it actually is. Having said that, it's so Scottish it's not true (and that is part of the attraction).
The DVD contains all six episodes that were ever made. Watching it makes you wish there were more series commissioned, but maybe Cumming and Masson stuck to the "Fawlty Towers" rule of comedy - don't milk a good idea.
0Comment17 of 18 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
I bought this during a previous brief period of release, after which it was withdrawn and the second-hand price shot up in the usual fashion. Buy while you can.

This gives you the only series of this off-the-wall sitcom. It may have shot its bolt in one series, but what a series it was. It features the dysfunctional aircrew of a Scottish airliner:
-The two loser stewards, the cynical Sebastian (Alan Cumming) and the dreamer Steve. Both behave camper than a whole site full of tents, although Steve is definitely hetero
-Their workaholic ("Goebbels in a Gossard") head stewardess, Shona Spirtle (an intense performance by Siobhan Redmond), who is engaged in a losing battle to maintain her authority and gravitas against the anarchy of Sebastian and Steve
-Their very English and totally deranged pilot, Captain Duff, who is convinced that he is James Kirk and his plane is the Enterprise
The series follows the derisory attempts of Sebastian and Steve, and the sincere attempts of Shona, to better themselves within Air Scotia or elsewhere, all to no avail. It culminates with their bid to win the UK Eurovision qualifiers. (There have been far worse songs winning the real Eurovision!)
The supporting cast changes completely with each episode; it includes good performances from, among others, Peter Blake and the late great Molly Weir.
If you liked (for example) The Young Ones, Acorn Antiques or Naked Video, you will love this. However, if you enjoyed Terry and June (other than as a source for semiological or deconstructionist study!) you're best advised to give it a wide berth.
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on 29 June 2003
I remembered this fondly from the time it was originally aired and bought it as soon as it came out on DVD.
I'm pleased to say it has lost nothing in the intervening years.
Every episode is great, with the Eurovision one probably being my favourite, "Pif Paf Pof, I want to have it off" are the lyrics. It's only a shame there was never a second series. It is in true British camp comedy style with a Scottish slant. If you have a sense of humour you'll love it.
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on 30 April 2003
This was a gem of a series on bbc2 , very funny if you like cheap easy camp humour.I do and am really pleased that you can now own this classic series.
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on 23 October 2003
An absolute gem that seemed to slip by the general public's awareness, before one of it's principals went off to become and extra in Bond flicks and star in Disney movies.
Like all top shelf comedy it is thigh-slappingly funny and yet disturbingly true to life. (Father Ted, Fawlty Towers etc) Eurovision IS 'Pif-Paf-Pof', there are precious, mincing, young Scotsmen somewhere out there and the world is infatuated by sex, the past and work relationships. Oh yes, and sex. Add to that a bit of nationalism and a tart of a dolly trolley and you will laugh until your flight is called. It'll leave ya gantin'fae mair!
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