The Comedy Vault – Hale And Pace.

Hale And Pace (Channel 4, 1986, ITV, 1988-1998)

Gareth Hale and Norman Pace are a comedy double-act who first appeared on TV in the early-80s. They went on to appear in various sketch shows including Pushing Up Daisies, Coming Next, and Saturday Gang (I must admit that I haven’t seen any of these shows myself but I would like to). In 1986, after appearances on Saturday Live, they got their own show on Channel 4, The Hale And Pace Christmas Extravaganda.

Two of their most famous characters at this point were the hard men Ron and Ron, and in 1988 they got their own sitcom series on Channel 4 called The Management. Also in that year, their own sketch show would launch on ITV (accompanied by the particularly rowdy LWT studio audience) which was shown in the Sunday evening slot usually filled by Spitting Image. Hale and Pace wrote some of the sketches themselves, along with many others. vlcsnap-00673

Along with the sketches, they would also appear in the studio, and there would be further contributions from Ron and Ron who would often be up to something with a rubber chicken (although it didn’t have a pulley in the middle) and would come up with gems like “I don’t like conflicts!” “I don’t like any breakfast cereal!”. These characters also appeared in an advertising campaign for Clorets, if you want to get rid of those nasty niffs. vlcsnap-00665

Although they didn’t have a regular supporting cast as such, various people did help out in the sketches, including some early TV appearances for Ainsley Harriott before he found fame as a chef, along with a few celebrity guests. Hale and Pace also became known for their sketches being a little more vulgar and crude than most other double-acts, and some caused a stir (the early series were also repeated on Channel 4). In 1989 they appeared in the final Doctor Who story of the original series. vlcsnap-00672

By 1991 they were popular enough to perform the Comic Relief single “The Stonk” which became a chart-topping hit! Regular characters in later series included the rude children’s TV presenters Billy and Johnny (“we know a song about that!”), evangelists Nathan and Jeremiah, cockney cabbies Frank and Steve (“large portion yes!”), the rather dull Curly and Nige (“there’s one, there’s another one…”) and hippies Jed and Dave (they also hosted a 1994 edition of Top Of The Pops as these two). There were also lots of musical parodies. vlcsnap-00677

Hale And Pace returned year after year, and there were also several compilations under various titles including The Business and Ten Years Hard, plus a special made in Australia. They also appeared on ITV in the crime drama A Pinch Of Snuff and comedy-drama April Fool’s Day. By the tenth series in 1998 (which wasn’t shown on a Sunday like all the others), the format had begun to get a little tired, so it came to an end, with the final sketch of the final edition featuring the somewhat inevitable conclusion of Hale appearing for the first time without his moustache. vlcsnap-00676

After this, Hale and Pace decided to try something a little different and joined the BBC. They made the silent comedy Oddbods, documentary series Jobs For The Boys where they were challenged to learn new skills (including directing a TV advert), and in 1999 the entertainment show h&p@bbc, with every edition starting later than the previous, before being put out of its misery. Critics and viewers were must unimpressed unfortunately. vlcsnap-00680

After this setback, they haven’t had another series since, although Hale went on to star in hot Channel 5 soap Family Affairs, and they both appeared in sitcom Benidorm last year. Some series of Hale And Pace have been released on DVD by Network (containing no extras), but not all of them, and there were also several repeats on digital channel Granada Plus.


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