Look Around You 2 (BBC2, 2005)
My first look at classic comedy is a review of the great show Look Around You. There were two series which had different formats. The first series had 10 minute-long episodes that were parodies of ITV Schools-type programmes. The second series changed to 30-minute long episodes that were parodies of Tomorrow’s World-type shows. The second series began a decade ago this month, and my review will be of the first episode of series two which was first shown on BBC2 in January 2005.
Well, we’re off to a good start. The episode begins with the 1979-1986 BBC2 ident. It was never made clear what year this series of Look Around You was supposed to be set in, but it’s probably around the 1981 mark. A lot of amusing archive footage was used on the show to add to the authenticity that this really was made in the early-80s. Let’s meet the four presenters.
First is Peter Packard, who is played by Peter Serafinowicz who also worked on the first series of the show. Jack Morgan is played by Robert Popper. Morgan also appeared in the first series with his terrific chart-topping “Little Mouse” song. Pam Bachelor is played by Olivia Colman, I wonder whatever happened to her? Pealy Maghti is played by Josie D’Arby, who used to be a presenter on CBBC a decade earlier, that’s something of a career change. I always thought that the character name was rather odd, is it an anagram of something? So what will the focus be on this week?
“What will be music be like in the year 2000?” That’s the big question. There is a competition called “Music 2000” where three people who think they know perform some futuristic songs that they have written.
First is Tony Rudd with “Machadaynu”. Now it seems that any comedy show made after 1994 can only be called “alternative” if it features at least one episode with Kevin Eldon going “uuh, aah” for two minutes for no reason, so that gets the job done here. Second is the rather shy Toni Baxter who comes to life with the Kate Bush-esque “Sexual Interface”. Finally it’s Antony Carmichael with “The Rapping Song”. What’s amusing about this is when watching the 1979/1980 episodes of TOTP when rap was just coming through the songs were introduced by the presenters with a bemused “it’ll never catch on”-style which is parodied to some extent here. It’s just talking really, isn’t it? The winner will be judged by the ghost of Harry Enfield.
We also meet Synthesizer Patel. He just loves synthesizers so much he changed his name! Here’s a good story. Synthesizer is played by Sanjeev Kohli, who also starred in Still Game and the great Radio 4 sitcom Fags, Mags and Bags. When I wrote on Twitter recently about how much I enjoyed the show, he actually retweeted the comment! What a guy.
We also get a special report about how the singles chart is compiled and then we meet the Inventor of the Week. It’s Leonard Hatred, played by none other than Mark Heap. Remember when I said he was terrific in Ghost Train? Well here he is again being great as the inventor of a spray which can block your ears to create silence. What a great idea, but will he win the trophy at the end of the series?
Then we find out the winner of “Music 2000” which is Toni Morgan, before Jack ends the show with a great reggae song. The series would continue like this with lots of great characters and strange ideas and a look at different topics every week.