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Les Liaisons Stupide
on 11 March 2007
Cruelly under-rated, this is easily as good as anything produce by French & Saunders, either collectively or individually. Set in the Palace of Versailles in 1782, the basic premise is similar to that of Blackadder 3. But instead of Rowan Atkinson as Edmund Blackadder braving the idiocy of Hugh Laurie as the Prince Regent, here we have Dawn French as the bored but wily servant who has to suffer fat, rich and stupid member of the French aristocracy Colombine, Comtesse de Vache (Jennifer Saunders).
In supporting roles are Adrian Scarborough as Bouffant, Colombine's dress-maker, Alison Steadman as Colombine's nemesis Madame de Plonge as well as Lucy Punch playing Eveline, her sexed-up but (supposedly) virginal daughter. Appearing in individual episodes are Richard E. Grant as the Marquis de Sade, Julian Rhind-Tutt as Madame de Plonge's camp acid-tongued advisor, Cathy Burke as Colombine's poor and duplicitous sister and Maggie Steed stealing every scene she's in as Madame Vigee-Lebrun, artist to the aristocracy.
With everyone involved playing to the gallery, the humour comes fast and funny helped along by an abundance of silly costumes, wigs and situations. The performers are encouraged to adopt several ridiculous (and historically inappropriate) accents ranging from Dawn French's distinct west country twang and Adrian Scarborough's broad Yorkshire to a quite ridiculously over-the-top Bavarian accent afforded to Marie Antoinette (Elizabeth Berrington).
Stand-out situations include Colombine's absolute refusal to open doors for herself, Lisette's regular references to the 'the old Comte' and the superb moment when Bouffant staggers in with hair and make-up everywhere having been subjected to the amorous attentions of Eveline declaring angrily 'do I LOOK like I'm heterosexual?'.
TV comedy is littered with shows that were unappreciated during first runs and only became favourites upon being repeated extensively and maybe 'Let Them East Cake' would have benefited from such repetition on TV. Or perhaps Dawn and Jennifer were less committed to the show as it was a rare example of them performing in something they did not write (Peter Learmouth gets the credit here). Whatever the reasons, the show was not a huge success and was not re-commissioned so, alas, we only have these 6 episodes to treasure. We must therefore be grateful for the issuing of this DVD and, if you are a fan of French & Saunders, Absolutely Fabulous or Blackadder all you really need to do is just press the 'Add To Shopping Basket' button above. Honestly, you'll thank me.