Absolutely (Channel 4, 1989-1993)
Absolutely was a comedy sketch show that starred a great sextet of performers (who were Pete Baikie, Morwenna Banks, Jack Docherty, Gordon Kennedy, Moray Hunter and John Sparkes). This was a show that I originally only remember seeing the fourth and final series of and I really enjoyed it. A while later, I read that critics thought that this was the worst series, so I could only imagine how good the others were. Thankfully, a while back the complete collection plus a nice bunch of extras were released on DVD so I could finally see the whole lot for myself.
Absolutely contained a great variety of characters that were very memorable. Among these were the Nice family, the girl who tried to explain everything, the very dull Calum, the horrible old man Bert, and the residents of the small town of Stoneybridge. One of the best characters was the outrageous Frank Hovis (played by Sparkes) who often delivered his thoughts on life while on the toilet, and he had some rather bad flatulence problems. This character also appeared in BBC2’s sketch show Naked Video, a show on HTV Wales, and somewhat inexplicably, ITV’s variety game show 3-2-1.
Perhaps the oddest sketches were those featuring Don and George (played by Docherty and Hunter). After Absolutely ended they got their own spin-off sitcom in 1993 on Channel 4 called Mr Don And Mr George. I don’t remember watching it at the time but it seems to be available online so I shall have to take a look and review that one day too.
My favourite character though has to be the man in the final series who laughed at everything, and he was especially fond of car stickers which had terrible jokes on them. I ended up nearly laughing as much as he did I thought it was so great. One interesting thing about Absolutely is that some editions were 45 minutes so there were more sketches than most shows, and also in the 90s a book and vido (yes, that is how it is spelt) were released containing some of the best sketches.
Another good thing about Absolutely was that there were some musical sketches, and these were accompanied by some strange animated sequences that were created by the same company who made the original Have I Got News For You opening sequence. The DVD is a great package, it contains such features as the unaired pilot, interviews with all of the cast members, and also contributions from celebrity fans of the show including Paul Whitehouse who is definitely someone who knows a thing or two about how to create great comedy characters.
Although Absolutely ended in 1993, the cast have gone on to further things including Jack Docherty’s Channel 5 chat show (which I have already discussed on here), and in more recent years some of the cast reunited for a radio version of the show, with most of the classic characters returning who all still sounded really good. I’m pleased to have now seen every edition of Absolutely and I can definitely say that it is one of the best comedy shows that has ever been on Channel 4.