Blue Heaven (Channel 4, 1992-1994)
This is a sitcom that I don’t remember watching at the time, but there is one thing that I do know about this that has always made me want to find out more. Firstly, Blue Heaven starred and was written by Frank Skinner. At this point he was still fairly early in his comedy career, he had won the coveted Perrier Award, and he appeared in a few shows, including Channel 4’s Packet Of Three.
In 1992 the pilot episode was shown as part of the Bunch Of Five series, where various sitcom ideas were tried out, but this was the only one of them that received a series. Now my sister was in the studio audience for this, but when this returned in 1994 two years on, there was no audience, which seems to be a curious decision, as there was plenty to enjoy.
Blue Heaven starred Frank as, er, Frank, an aspiring singer who was in a duo with his friend Roache who played keyboards. They spent most of the time playing gigs at small-time pubs, and they were usually booed off, mostly because a lot of their songs were about how fond they were of West Bromwich Albion (and indeed, when Frank wasn’t down the pub, he was at The Hawthorns watching the Baggies).
His dream is to be a success though, despite everything, he is sure he’ll get there. Frank often looks into the camera to explain his feelings and the current situation. This show definitely got my approval for the episode where Frank and Roache get as far as making a music video for one of their songs, which was accompanied by yet another parody of The Chart Show icons, well done.
Throughout the episodes, a rather large amount of familiar faces appeared, including Bill Bailey, Carol Barnes, Lucy Davis, Kevin Eldon, Stephen Frost, Philip Glenister, Tamsin Greig, Brian Hibbard, Kate Lonergan, David Neilson, Beryl Reid, Tony Robinson, John Thomson, and Paula Wilcox. Frank clearly had musical aspirations for real, as he also wrote and performed the theme music.
And although he didn’t realise it at the time, he really would have a chart-topping single when he collaborated with The Lightning Seeds for the football anthem “Three Lions”. There were seven episodes of Blue Heaven, which never had a VHS or DVD release (unfortunately I couldn’t track the pilot down, but the series episodes are on YouTube). This seems to be little remembered now, but at least Channel 4 showed all of the episodes, unlike his other sitcom…