TV Cream

TV: B is for...

Bit of Fry and Laurie, A

"I was sprawled in bed with Kathleen Turner and David Vine, when..." "Standards of accountability - ooh, I do like that one, I shall be using that in bed tonight"

FIRST DYNASTY, THEN SWITCH OVER TO BBC2 FOR FRY AND LAURIE. And so it once was in discerning households of a Friday night, as Stephen and Hugh brought us intricately crafted Oxbridge comedy, at turns surreal (“Par-pa! Par-pa! I haven’t done this for years”), stupid (“I stooped to pick a buttercup. Why people leave buttocks lying around, I’ve no idea”), satirical (“What do I think of John Major’s leadership? I’d welcome it!”) and saucy (“Yes, it’s called ‘England: A Nation of Cricketers’ by Ted Cunterblast”). Best topped off by that ace title sequence showing the duo walking into TV Centre, the series suffered from rapidly diminishing returns, before being upgraded to BBC1 for its fourth and final run – wherein IMELDA STAUNTON and JOHN BIRD rushed the set. Soupy twist.

"My husband and I read the Daily Mail. We prefer it to a newspaper" "I killed her because she said she wanted to marry Noel Edmonds. Until then, she really had been a model daughter"


  1. Arthur Nibble

    July 18, 2009 at 12:50 am

    The lofty heights that Cannon and Ball can only dream of, then wake up startled in a cold sweat.

  2. legrandpierre

    July 18, 2009 at 11:08 am

    “Except for today….except for April the 29th of August…oh yes, except for today…”

  3. Paul Gatenby

    July 18, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    Some of the best comedy names ever committed to sketches. Especially Professor Midgery Margery.

  4. Chris O

    July 18, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Oh Christ – I’ve left the iron on…

  5. gareth jones

    July 18, 2009 at 5:39 pm


  6. Flossie

    July 19, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    My ass! I oughta bust your ass for this! Tell that ass to get his ass in here so I can straighten out his ass

  7. Vestan Pance

    November 29, 2009 at 12:34 am

    Makes me want to go out and buy a dozen grollings and a beveled spilge-trunion.

  8. paulus

    May 22, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    Humour… only a mother (or drunken students) could love!

  9. MikeyC

    July 23, 2011 at 12:48 am

    “Good juicy tongue in the back passage?”

  10. Richard16378

    July 23, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    The Kicking Ass song & the Jane Austen soup & broth sketch stand out in my mind.

  11. Tom Ronson

    October 4, 2020 at 9:33 pm

    The first two series were often very good indeed, preceded by a pilot episode – shown over Christmas 1987 – which featured genuinely baffling excerpts from what looked like an old underarm deodorant advert, included presumably because someone thought it was funny. They got a bit lazy with the third series, with a lot of directionless whimsy and sketches that should have been sent back for rewrites. The BBC seemed to have no faith at all in the fourth series – it was shelved for quite a long time before it was finally broadcast, and then the critics panned it, which – along with the negative reviews for his West End play with Rik Mayall – caused Stephen Fry to do a bunk to Belgium.
    A few months before the fourth series, Fry and Laurie presented a Christmas Night with the Stars-type programme on BBC2, which got similarly poisonous reviews, suggesting that perhaps people had just tired of them, or it could have been the unattractive streak of British philistinism (‘they’re too clever for their own good’) rearing its ugly head again.

  12. Richardpd

    October 4, 2020 at 11:21 pm

    I remember a few shows ran into a sticky patch in the mid 1990s, with French & Saunders getting bashing from the press and Coronation Street’s Curly & Raquel storyline alienating some viewers.

  13. Sidney Balmoral James

    October 5, 2020 at 9:06 pm

    No shout out to Dominic Appleguard in TV Cream’s list? Possibly the finest sketch: ‘Wait until I ask the question!’ Also, the published scripts include perhaps only successful example of giving humorously unrelated captions to the photo section in the middle of the book.

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