Harry Enfield And Chums (BBC1, 1994-1998)
By the time his BBC2 comedy sketch show series came to an end after its second series in 1992, Harry Enfield had become established as a big name in British comedy (he’d even had a hit single), and many people were looking forward to what he would do next. So when he returned for his next series, he was promoted to BBC1 with Harry Enfield And Chums, so called because he had a terrific support cast that would help him out.
Among them was Paul Whitehouse, whose own The Fast Show launched around the same time and was also a big success. Although it was essentially a continuation of the BBC2 show, once again the chance was taken to introduce another new group of characters along with a few returning favourites, they were definitely up to the standard we’d been expecting, and some of them were arguably his most successful with viewers yet.
These included Kevin The Teenager, an alarmingly accurate impression of a stroppy adolescent (who even went on to feature in a spin-off film), The Self-Righteous Brothers, who were two rather angry men (who went to be in an advertising campaign for Hula Hoops), and The Lovely Wobbly Randy Old Ladies, who are rather fond of encountering young men.
Some of the already established characters were given another run-out including Wayne Slob and Tim Nice-But-Dim. The show would often end with Harry along with the rest of the cast taking a bow in front of the studio audience, and concluding by telling us “the show’s not over, until the fat bloke sings!”, at which point a fat bloke would come on and perform an unlikely pop song in an operatic style.
There were two series, and there were also some Christmas specials, the 1997 one included a parody of Teletubbies (although such was the cultural impact of that show it seemed to be referenced by everybody at the time). Once again there were lots of catchphrases that viewers liked, and it did seem for a short while that lots of people were going round saying “ooh, young man!”, or “OI! No!”.
After this, there were several repeat runs, and a few specials featuring compilations of the best moments. Once again, there has been a VHS release, but no DVD release, which is very disappointing as it has been long-promised but never appeared, I’d definitely buy it. After this series ended, Harry went off to ITV to appear in sitcom Sermon From St Albion’s, before going off to Sky to continue his sketch show. He then returned to the BBC with flop sitcom Celeb, before reuniting with Whitehouse for another award-winning sketch series.