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All the lonely people...
on 23 April 2013
When this series first ran on BBC-2, my mother would ask, 'What are you watching?', as was her wont with anything that was edgy and weird. This is still edgy and weird thirteen years on!
Julia Davis and Rob Brydon were a team on this - evolving stories that weren't laugh out loud funny, but thought-provoking. I still feel sad at Les and Rae's story, 'More Than Happy' and would love to see a follow-up story where they foster a child or two as replacement for the twins they lost. They could have gone to Uganda (Rob's visit for Comic Relief in 2013 was so touching). Les's little songs made me smile - No Peas In Barcelona, and I'm The Happiest Man Alive for two. I could picture the character singing these to a child and missing out a word so they could fill it in.
Peter in 'An English Squeak' was another manchild - possibly further up the social scale than Keith Barret, but still in arrested development. His wife was so in thrall to her dead husband Geoffrey (Rob in the flashbacks in a blond wig and lighter contact lenses) that she made poor Peter lie by his graveside in preparation for his own death. I think she was lying about the vaginismus, and I'm glad Peter let off his frustrations with Nanna (Joanna Scanlan)! But the bit at the birthday party made me feel sad - when he says his grandfather and father both died at 40, and he was turning 40. His facepaint suggested death even though the clowns and balloons were supposed to be happy, and the wife's clumsy playing of 'Moonlight Sonata' on the piano seemed funereal too.
The religious couple were very strange - surely they would have twigged that the couple they regularly delivered curly sausage casserole to (this is not a euphemism) were gay? Rob as the minister had a grey wig and blue contact lenses, making me think of Roger Daltrey mixed with Robert Kilroy-Silk! I loved the bit where they were singing 'Have I The Right?' to the dog on the bonus material. He ought to have done 'Dogs' (The Who song about the dog races guy, not Pink Floyd's)!
'All Over My Glasses' featured a little football boor called Stephen, with custard-yellow Tintin hair I feel sure was reprised for Matt Lucas's Daffyd in 'Little Britain'! I can't believe the actor who portrayed damaged souls like Keith Barret and Bryn West was the same man who shouted at his girlfriend in this over the choice of the music for their wedding, and then turned his back on her when she was several months gone with their child. Ruth Jones plays the part of the girl's best friend, and she has a thoroughly rotten time with him and his best friend (Mark Benton) on their stag night.
The swingers in 'Slither In' were a weird couple. They wanted to renovate the room where the sister (?) Val still lay in a coma - we never did get to know if she recovered or died. They also had a dungeon full of S & M gear downstairs at their seaside home.
'Hairless' was my favourite episode after 'More Than Happy'. Fonte Bund's bickering with poor, put-upon Barne Willers made me think of what may have led to Steve Caton departing Tori Amos's touring band! I felt like I wanted to give him a hug and tell him to leave her and get his own songs heard - I liked the 'Cat & The Mouse' song (shades of Genesis's 'All In A Mouse's Night')! He seemed like a real life musician to me; his day job in a solicitor's made me think of members of IQ and Spock's Beard that couldn't have their respective bands as full-time work. I was convinced that his squint was for real until I saw the makeup tests - I was thinking, did he get a squint corrected much later in life than some other people? The touring adventures of Fonte and Barne are on the bonus material, also featuring John Martyn who supplied the series's theme song.
The bonus material also includes the improvisations Rob and Julia did that were the basis for the scripts. It's so lovely to see them laughing behind the scenes, after all that!