Naked Video (BBC2, 1986-1991)
Well no, it’s not what you think it is, this is the long-running comedy sketch show. It launched in 1981 on BBC Radio Scotland as Naked Radio, although some editions were eventually repeated south of the border on digital station BBC7. Following the success of similar TV shows A Kick Up The Eighties and Laugh??? I Nearly Paid My Licence Fee, in 1986 it transferred to BBC2 and was renamed Naked Video.
This was a show that featured a mostly Scottish cast of about seven or eight regular performers who took part in various fast-paced sketches (accompanied by funky music), including taking an amusing look at the news, or parodying various things around at the time (and any show that does a parody of Pages From Ceefax not even five minutes into its first edition is fine by me). Also among the parodies were EastEnders and ITV’s game show Bullseye, marvellous.
There were also a few regular characters who appeared in their own sketch every week. These included Siadwell, the young Welsh poet who often told unusual stories about his life from his bedroom (John Sparkes, who left Naked Video after the third series to go off and star in Channel 4’s sketch show Absolutely, where although he didn’t continue to play Siadwell he was equally entertaining).
There was also Helen Lederer who told some rambling stories whilst playing a drunk woman in the pub. Another highlight from the third series onward was the OHBC (Outer Hebrides Broadcasting Corporation) where we received all the latest news and events from this rather remote part of Scotland. The two most popular characters though were both played by Gregor Fisher, and they became successful enough with viewers to get their own spin-off shows.
Firstly, there was a man who didn’t have much hair apart from an unconvincing combover who had some trouble getting through life. He went on to appear in a famous series of adverts for Hamlet cigars, and in 1995 he starred in ITV’s The Baldy Man, a show which featured virtually dialogue-free comedy sketches and ran for two series. It was a fun show but unfortunately it was always going to come off second-best when compared to the similar Mr Bean (and I might review it soon).
Most famous of all though was the string-vest wearing Glaswegian Rab C Nesbitt. His ranting observations on life were barely decipherable half the time and he was a troublemaker, but he went on to star in a BBC2 sitcom that ran for ten series over two decades, which had lots of funny moments whilst maintaining a gritty edge (again, I might review this soon too).
Naked Video eventually ran for five series (ending in 1991, the same year as Naked Radio), and there were also several repeats and compilations in the mid-90s (retitled Naked Video 2½), and the first three series have been released on DVD (but containing no extras). Unfortunately series four and five that I was looking forward to were never released as it seems that the DVD company closed down (which is why we never had the third series of KYTV released either even though it was promised). At its best this was a lively show which paved the way for the similar Chewin’ The Fat a decade later.