The Armstrong And Miller Show (Channel 4, 1997-2001, BBC1, 2007-2010)
Comedy double act Alexander Armstrong and Ben Miller have been around for many years. In the 90s they made several TV and radio programmes, including Children’s Hour which has been repeated several times on BBC Radio 4 Extra in more recent years. In 1997 they got their own sketch show on Channel 4 which ran for four series (only series four has been released on DVD curiously) which caused a stir partly because for some reason they performed most of the sketches in the nude, but a decade later they moved to the BBC to relaunch the show with a whole new bunch of characters, and as this is the era of the show that I watched the most this piece will concentrate on the BBC1 version.
There were several unusual characters played by Armstrong and Miller throughout the three series on BBC1. Although there weren’t a huge amount of catchphrases as such there were still lots of great moments. Among my favourite characters are the dentist who tells horribly rude stories to his patient who is unable to complain because his mouth is being examined.
There were also the musical duo Brabbins and Fyffe who liked to perform songs with vulgar lyrics, two ladies who run a restaurant where they have difficulty dealing with the customers, usually leading to it “all kicking off” and ending with someone flying through a window, and many others who were wonderfully odd.
It probably wasn’t too much of a surprise that the most popular character characters were the two upper-class RAF pilots in World War II who spoke like modern-day teenagers, and they went on to appear in advertising campaigns and also turned up getting on down and slapping it back in a special sketch for Comic Relief alongside Mitchell and Webb. The combination of all this was well received by viewers and critics who enjoyed the good observations of various eccentrics, with the show going on to win a Bafta for the best comedy series of the year, and there has also been a book released featuring all the main characters.
Unfortunately there are no plans for Armstrong and Miller to work together again soon, although there have been hints that there might be a fourth BBC series in the future, it has presumably been somewhat scuppered by Armstrong being busy making about 900 episodes of the game show Pointless, which started out so quietly but has become one of the most successful games of the past five years, while Miller has appeared in a few dramas and adverts including being the voice of the ITV Digital/PG Tips monkey character. Whenever they do get back together though I’m sure they’ll do something great because they are a very funny double act.