Shiny Shelf

Little Britain: Series Two

By Jim Smith on 24 October 2004

The first episode of the second series of BBC 3’s migrated-from-Radio comedy series ‘Little Britain’ shows all the signs of a series that has, in essence, been turned up to eleven. Things that you know Walliams and Lucas would never have got away with last time, and may yet not get away with this time once the series transfers to BBC 1, happen more or less constantly.

I’m partially reviewing this because some of the series biggest laughs, and most spectacular gross-out moments, are still lurking near the top of my subconscious nearly a week after a single viewing.

It’s rare for anything, never mind sketch comedy, to have that kind of seizing affect on me – and it seems worth mentioning; just how firmly these characters have anchored themselves into contemporary culture. How long they last will be the ultimate test of their power, naturally, but I’m the kind of guy who is led by the strength of immediate feeling in cases such as these.

Old favourites, like Fat Fighters tyrant Margory Dawes and Lou and Andy, are back in new, more extreme sketches and other characters, like Anthony Head’s PM and Emily (‘A Lady!’) have acquired new supporting characters to give the comedy further mileage. In Emily’s case it’s an even less convincing fellow transvestite brought to life by Lucas. In the PM’s case it’s a political (and personal?) foe in the form of a leader of the opposition admirably brought to life by Nigel Havers. There’s a moment in the first episode where Walliams’ Sebastian says something which will, quite literally, leave your mouth hanging open and its audacity. Promise.

Best of all, though, are two other ladies played by the physically, vocally and facially versatile leads. Two WI types who wander a fair inspecting jams, tasting cakes and confirming every prejudice you’ve ever held about the middle-class, middle-england, middle-aged in the process. It’s also spectacularly gross in a ‘Mr Creosote’ sense, and yet it’s not even the most gut-churning sketch in the show.

As for what that is, I’m not even prepared to type it out. But if you want to see me retch, come up to me in person and say ‘Bitty’. Bleurrgh.

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