World Of Pub (BBC2, 2001)
One of the many great things about the digital channel UK Play was that as well as making some comedy shows of their own, they also repeated a lot of them, and just about every comedy that was originally shown on BBC2 in the late-90s and early-00s turned up on the channel, and this was where I saw the sitcom World Of Pub for the first time.
It’s rather difficult to describe what World Of Pub was about but the basic idea was that the show was centred around the adventures of an unsuccessful pub in the East End of London. The three main characters are brothers Garry (Peter Serafinowicz, who also appeared as a few other characters), Barry (Phil Cornwell) and their mate Dodgy Phil (Kevin Eldon), and between them they always try to think of outrageous ideas to get more customers at the pub.
There are some very odd ideas over the episodes such as trying to turn the pub in a library, attracting a group of people who worship Michael Caine, and a parody of the film Notting Hill. Everything always ends in disaster with the pub being demolished at the end of every episode, but somewhat miraculously it is rebuilt by the time of the next episode before the chaos starts again. As well as the great performances from the main cast members there were also some appearances from other up-and-coming comedy stars at the time including Martin Freeman, David Walliams and Tamsin Greig.
Critics compared World Of Pub and its crazy Cockney characters to all kinds of bizarre comedies, including The Naked Gun, The Simpsons, The League Of Gentlemen and Father Ted, for shows that seem to have a straightforward idea at first but then start to become very peculiar, and this show definitely fits that description.
World Of Pub started out on Radio 4 and there were two series in 1998 and 1999, again I didn’t hear these first time round, but it has been repeated in more recent years on Radio 4 Extra and after finally hearing them it was definitely as enjoyable as the TV version. The show was written by Tony Roche who has gone on to write some other sitcoms including The Thick Of It.
The TV version of World Of Pub lasted for only six episodes and it wasn’t a big hit but a lot of the cast have gone on to further success, and pleasingly the show was released on DVD in 2007. I myself thought that it was a very funny show with some bizarre ideas and although another sitcom that launched on BBC2 in the summer of 2001 went on to huge success I would say that this one was just as good but unfortunately attracted little attention by comparison.