TV Cream

TV: E is for...

End of Part One

SUBLIME SUNDAY AFTERNOON comedy from Andrew Marshall and David Renwick with DENISE “DO NOT ADJUST” COFFEY and TONY “CHISH AND FIPS” AITKEN as Vera and Norman Straightman plus the ever-reliable FRED HARRIS. Whole thing born out of surreal Radio 4 effort The Burkiss Way. Series 1 was a parody of CORONATION STREET, with similar titles and themes, as the Straightmans (men?) sat at home in their living room, watching the telly, from which the sketches would ’emerge’ into their house. When one sketch finished, one of them would say something like “OK, time to go in here” and would physically slide the scenery from the old sketch to the new. This was all dropped in series 2 until the end of the last episode when they both walked in and asked how come they weren’t in this series. They also did away with opening titles and played about with the LWT logo like mad. Other highlights:

– Tone and Denise call someone in to fix their gas television and he explains that they are going to knock the house down instead.

– WW3 breaks out, with the destruction of various British cities being announced like sports results: ‘Wales fries’, ‘Frizzle’s the kiddo for South Yorkshire’.

– Larry Grayson’s Fat Ladies Embarrassment Game. At the time the ‘Game had celebrities just popping up for no reason at all; on Fat Ladies a contestant gets asked who her favourite celebrities were. She says Kenny Everett and “Larry” says well that’s great because here’s…Yasser Arafat!!

– Mr & Mrs sketch from Boredom Television, with the couple pouring syrup on their heads in the titles and a game of chess-boxing where the moves are to kick the opponent in the balls. “You could cut the atmosphere with a tape editing machine”.

– Two old women going to the cinema and buying tickets to sit ‘in the film’.

– Two valkyries walking back together after doing the shopping.

– The Queen visiting a theatre and being presented with flowers, and a footman walking behind her holding a dustbin for her to throw them all in.

– A parody of the multi-story Amicus horror films where a number of characters find themselves in a mysterious house, discussing their ‘disturbing’ dreams.

– Denise auditioning for the new Test Card.

– A superhero applying to board at the Straightman house, and holding up comic speech balloons to his mouth and Denise responding: ‘Oh we don’t talk like that round here.’

– Denise unwrapping her chips and finally getting down to just one single chip (wrapped in a many many layers of newspaper and greasproof paper).

– An episode starting with the LWT logo, followed by another LWT logo, followed by two more…

– A quiz game; the quizmaster asking the contestants, “what…is this?” The programme goes straight into adverts. Return to the quiz. Contestant: ‘A commercial break?’

– The episode where the team did a Python and rolled the credits over a sketch halfway through the programme so they could do a quick trick ending later on. Granada continuity bloke actually spoke over the credits – over the sketch dialogue!!! – just to say that the show would be back same time next week.

– Fred Harris being interviewed for a job in a spider’s web.

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Lee James Turnock

    April 30, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    It was Tony Aitken who was interviewed for a job in a spider’s web, by Dudley Stevens. This series looks a bit smug and “aren’t we clever to spot THIS cliche” nowadays, but they did manage a few good moments.

  2. PR

    October 28, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    BBC Radio 4e is airing the 1982 series “Stick a Geranium in Your Hat” (about the songwriting duo of RP Weston & Bert Lee). As I listened to the end credits, I was thrilled to discover that Dudley Stevens was in the supporting cast of singer-actors!

    You can listen to each episode for 1 week after initial transmission. Though, if you’re clever, you’ll know how to record it, so you can listen to it whenever you like!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/

  3. Applemask

    October 15, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    They couldn’t be fucked putting in the title at all most episodes (except by default at the start of the commercial break), which alongside its graveyard slot can’t have helped the ratings much.

  4. Richard Davies

    October 16, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    One sketch I’ve often heard of from this show is the Dr Who spoof Dr Eyes.

  5. THX 1139

    February 1, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    One of the reasons I liked this at the time was because they were masters of the post-credits joke, which I always liked in comedy shows. It was like a bonus treat. In fact, so keen were they, they once ran the credits five minutes into the episode leaving twenty minutes of post-credits joke.

    Watching it again on DVD, the vitriol in a lot of the humour is striking, no poking gentle fun here, they went for the jugular and there’s loads of jokes that are genuinely hilarious if you’re familiar with the targets. The Nancy Boys and Hardy Drew Mysteries was a superb takedown of US series TV imports.

    Also, the whole cast are great, but one who should have been a bigger star was David Simeon, who is fantastic, his wordless Larry Grayson (all facial expressions and gestures) is a wonder to behold.

    • THX 1139

      May 1, 2021 at 12:07 am

      I was wrong here, no disrespect to Mr Simeon, but it was Dudley Stevens I was thinking of. Sad to see he died of AIDS in the 1990s.

  6. Droogie

    April 30, 2021 at 11:40 am

    I recall this getting shown on Sunday teatimes – a strange slot for quite a subservive show. Just watched their AYBS parody Are You Being Stereotyped? on Youtube and was hilariously shocked by how biting and savage the lyrics to the theme tune are:

    Ground Floor: Poofters always taking inside legs. Minceing round with silver hair and camping up like fairies – Going Up!
    First Floor: Huge ears. Jokes concerning FA Cups. Nurses in short dresses who constantly bend over – Going down!
    Second Floor: Randy men who try to talk like Hancock. Everyone on one side of the table in the restaurant – Going up!
    Third Floor: Dumb blondes. Middle-aged old spinsters who dye their hair bright purple and talk about their pussys _ Going Down!

    OUCH! Thinking about this, Trevor Bannister really did model his delivery on Tony Hancock didn’t he?

    • THX 1139

      April 30, 2021 at 6:46 pm

      Makes the culprits of The Two Ninnies on Not the Nine O’Clock News look to be Marshall and Renwick, doesn’t it?

      • Richardpd

        April 30, 2021 at 10:39 pm

        Ironically David Renwick wrote for The Two Ronnies, penning the Mastermind sketch.

        • THX 1139

          May 1, 2021 at 12:05 am

          Yes, the rumour was The Two Ninnies was penned by a disgruntled Ronnies writer.

      • Droogie

        May 1, 2021 at 12:23 am

        Ha ha! You’re probably correct!

        • Richardpd

          May 1, 2021 at 12:28 pm

          While Ronnie Barker didn’t think much of the Two Ninnies, Ronnie Corbett thought it was hilarious, but kept quiet because he didn’t want to create any friction between the two of them.

          It was an odd slot End of Part One was shown in, though ITV seem to have had almost as much a hit & miss record to sketch comedy as they have with sitcoms.

  7. Glenn Aylett

    May 1, 2021 at 1:43 pm

    I could never work out why the Not The Nine O Clock News team picked on the Two Ronnies as the comedy was of a high standard and quite intelligent, while rarely venturing into Benny Hill territory that younger comedians hated. I think sending up Little and Large, the worst comedians of the era, would have been far better as there was much from their tedious act to mock.

    • Richardpd

      May 1, 2021 at 2:26 pm

      It was a slightly odd choice, though the Two Ronnies occasionally slipped into the mother in law style jokes during the news segments. My Dad used to have a collected book of their news puns, which didn’t exactly highlight the series compared the brilliance in the sketches.

      Les Dennis & Dustin Gee did a good send up of Little & Large in the Laughter Show a few years later.

  8. Droogie

    May 2, 2021 at 10:46 am

    A parody of Little and Large would’ve been tricky – there was so little substance to them I don’t know what you could send up, other than Syd Little attempting to sing a song while Eddie keeps interrupting him with impressions of Deputy Dawg. Ronnie Barker’s reaction to the NTNOCN sketch was a little heavy handed I thought. If he and Corbett had have left the BBC for ITV as threatened, their legacy would’ve suffered as I’m sure they would’ve followed the likes of Morecambe & Wise, Mike Yarwood , The Goodies etc with an unsuccessful defection.

    • THX 1139

      May 2, 2021 at 1:12 pm

      The Mary Whitehouse Experience did a hilarious impersonation of Little and Large, consisting of Eddie going “I’m Tina Turner, I am! Supersonic, Sid!” and Sid going “Ed-deh…! Ed-deh…!” over and over, increasingly mournfully.

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