Harry Enfield’s Television Programme (BBC2, 1990-1992)
Here’s a look back at another comedy show from the 90s that became popular. In the mid-80s, Harry Enfield launched a TV comedy career, including doing some voices for Spitting Image. He then had some success with his characters including Loadsamoney (who even had a hit single), the one-off parody Norbert Smith – A Life, and also appeared in lots of adverts, so in 1990 he was given a sketch show all of his own.
There was a lot of anticipation that this would be a success, which pleasingly managed to be fulfilled. The idea of Harry Enfield’s Television Programme was that every week a wide range of bizarre characters would appear in their own segment. A lot of them were very impressive, and just about all of them became a success with viewers, which means that it is rather difficult to pick out the highlights. The opening sequence was also rather nonsensical and I’m still not sure what it was all about.
Characters included the past-it DJs Smashie And Nicey (who got their own spin-off in 1994 where they looked back at their careers after they were finally given the push which was rocktastic), Tim Nice-But-Dim, Wayne Slob, Leslie the forgetful pub landlord, and The Double Take Brothers. But there really were so many of them, and of course they all had catchphrases that became rather popular too. It was also great a when a lot of the characters appeared together in an an extended sketch set in a supermarket.
Harry was also helped along by a terrific support cast, including Martin Clunes (who would go on to appear in Men Behaving Badly alongside Harry), and also Charlie Higson and Paul Whitehouse (who went on to do The Fast Show which didn’t do too badly either). Harry had become a high-profile name in comedy, and both series (plus the Christmas special) were very enjoyable.
When Harry returned in 1994 for his next series with even more new characters, the show was promoted to BBC1 and renamed Harry Enfield And Chums. Although it was just about a continuation of the format, I’ll review that one in a separate piece. The show was repeated several times, and I remember having some of the editions on VHS and watching them rather frequently.
I got rid of these tapes though when I read that the show was going to be released on DVD, which I was really looking forward to. But this was delayed at least twice, before being cancelled altogether, which was very frustrating as I would’ve had no hesitation in buying them. But there’s no doubt for me that this show was one of the comedy highlights of the early-90s.