Fags, Mags And Bags (BBC Radio 4, 2007-present)
This is a sitcom that I didn’t listen to much in its earliest series, but when I finally decided to catch up on some episodes, I realised that this was the type of show that I really enjoy, and I wish that I had been a listener since the start. Firstly, Fags, Mags And Bags was co-written by and starred Sanjeev Kohli, who has already had success in comedy shows including Still Game as Navid, and Look Around You 2 as Synthesizer Patel.
Kohli starred as Ramesh, who runs a small cornershop in Lenzie, not far from Glasgow. He is often helped by his teenage sons Sanjay and Alok. Although this is a fairly small business, he has kept it running for about 30 years, and is very proud of this. Although it might seem a rather basic premise, it is actually a rather bizarre sitcom. Most of the episodes centre around the variety of people who come into the shop, including Father Henderson, Keenan’s Mum, Bra Jeff, Keith Futures, and Naughty Mr Hepworth, and they don’t mind passing on some of the more unusual details of their life.
Also featuring is Ramesh’s friend Dave who is always very eager to help out and they have become good friends. A lot of these characters seem to have vocal quirks, such as ending every sentence with “etc…”, or not finishing phrases “you look as smart as”. I noticed that this was another sitcom that liked to gain laughs from random celebrity references, and the cornershop situation meant there were plenty of opportunities for references to defunct chocolate bars, crisps, and magazines. Ramesh is always kind enough to offer a Five Alive or TV Quick to whoever wants one.
Needing a new woman in his life, Ramesh also eventually befriends Malcolm (who is female, honest). There were also a few guest appearances from people who would be familiar to fans of the TV comedy shows Absolutely and Father Ted. I suppose the message in Fags, Mags And Bags, if there is to be one found in such a thing, is that whatever someone’s background might be, none of them can resist a Twix.
There have now been nine series, and some of the later episodes do seem to mostly feature the regular popular characters turning up, doing their catchphrase, and then going again, but the fanbase still enjoy them. Oh yes, you would hear the applause as they walked in, if there was any. Overall though, this was a very enjoyable show, with lots of memorable moments which as Ramesh himself would probably say was “the very humorous”, and any sitcom that tries to make “you Fisher-Price telescope” a catchphrase can’t be all bad.