Radio Memories – Little Britain.

Little Britain (BBC Radio 4, 2000-2002)

The double-act Lucas and Walliams had worked on several comedy shows over the years, including Rock Profile. But when they launched a sketch show on the radio, they must’ve been hoping for this to do well of course. In Little Britain, we were invited to meet the people of Britain, and it didn’t take long to realise what a remarkable bunch they really are.

All of the sketches featured an introduction from the booming voice of Tom Baker. I imagine that they had ambitions to eventually transfer this to TV, but the success must’ve exceeded even their expectations. I must admit that I didn’t hear too much of this first time round, and yet again, a repeat run on BBC7/BBC Radio 4 Extra let me finally catch up.

The characters who would soon become rather familiar included Marjorie Dawes and Vicky Pollard. Of course, having lots of catchphrases definitely helped catch the attention of listeners. And when I finally heard the first series, I was surprised by how many sketches were recycled for the TV version, and that’s probably why that series managed to hit the ground running.

It would be because all of the characters had already been established and they knew how to play them. I imagine that it would’ve also been rather fun for them to work on what these characters would look like, and create the right image for them. The supporting cast was rather good too, and managed to help them out with the sketches.

But little did they realise that not only would there be a TV version, but this would also lead to the tours, the games, the dolls, the keyrings, they really did milk the merchandise, but then people did want to buy them. Well who wouldn’t want a Vicky all of their own to fondle. There were two series of the radio version of Little Britain, Lucas and Walliams would soon be among the biggest names in comedy, how nice. Goodbay!

The Comedy Vault – Little Britain Interactive Game.

Little Britain Interactive Game (2006)

I don’t know how interested people are in Little Britain any more, but for a while in the 2000s decade, this comedy show was very popular with viewers, and seemed to be all over the place. There were a huge amount of repeats on various TV channels, along with plenty of merchandise, including stationary, posters, slippers, and just about everything else inbetween.

So it made sense to jump on to the briefly thriving interactive DVD game market too. Lucas and Walliams took the decision to put the old wigs and costumes on one final time, and all of the footage for this game was specially recorded, so now they know how most game show hosts felt when they made these, having to stand in an empty room all day saying the same thing over and over.

Up to four teams could play for plenty of fun with the family, or you could carry on with yourself. There were over 1,000 questions specially written, and almost as many jokes! There would be seven rounds, picked at random from the 13 on offer. These included Judy and Maggie’s A Question Of Royalty, Lou and Andy’s Soap Quiz, Carol’s Travel Quiz, Marjorie’s Fatfighters Quiz, and many more.

Two or three questions on various categories with four options would be asked, and then you had to press the corresponding button on your remote control to give the correct answer. The characters would get rather upset if you got it wrong. You’ve missed out on the opportunity to hear them do their catchphrase, you know the ones that you like!

At the end of the round, you would be given an update on your score by the booming voice of Tom Baker, so when he says that you have scored two points, you had better believe it. Sometimes between rounds, there was an opportunity for you to win or lose a point with an extra question. Whoever has the most points at the end goes into the bonus round.

This was hosted by Vicky. Again, you have to answer multiple-choice questions, but this time there are about ten of them, they are general knowledge, and they are also against the clock, so it is time to think quickly. If you get enough correct, as well as being the winner, you will receive several trophies and surprises for being the cleverest person out of everybody.

The Comedy Vault – Little Britain.

Little Britain (BBC3, 2003-2004, BBC1, 2005)

This is a comedy sketch show that doesn’t need much introduction as it went on to become one of the most successful shows of its era, but as I do remember watching, and despite its faltering reputation in more recent years, I want to feature it here. Matt Lucas and David Walliams are a double-act who have worked together on TV since the mid-90s.

They contributed to a few shows including Shooting Stars, and they also featured in their own shows (that they also wrote) including Rock Profile, Sir Bernard’s Stately Homes, along with sketches on the Paramount Comedy Channel, and also various adverts. Despite fairly regular TV appearances, there probably weren’t too many viewers who could put a name to them. vlcsnap-00781

In 2001 they launched Little Britain on BBC Radio 4, where they developed a range of bizarre characters. I didn’t hear this at the time, but caught up with the various repeats on BBC7/BBC Radio 4 Extra. This did well enough to transfer to TV, with the first edition shown on the launch night of BBC3 in 2003, which was followed shortly after by a full series. vlcsnap-00780

Every episode would be a tour of the country focusing on various characters, who are all introduced by the booming voice of Tom Baker. Among those were Vicky Pollard and Daffyd, plus many more, along with plenty of memorable catchphrases. Two characters who particularly caught my attention were Lou and Andy, although this was mostly because their sketches were made not too far away from where I live. vlcsnap-00760

The combination of all of this was rather well received by viewers and critics, and after about a decade working together, Lucas and Walliams were suddenly among the most high-profile people on TV. BBC3 were proud to have a hit on their hands, and some editions were repeated very frequently. By the third series, the show was promoted to BBC1, by which point it had been established as one of the most popular comedy shows of its era, and celebrities were very eager to make guest appearances. vlcsnap-00784

Unfortunately the format was beginning to get a little tired by this point, and some of the characters seemed to be going through the motions, although there would be more. There were spin-off series set in various places including America and Australia where the characters travelled around the world. There was also a stage show tour, and lots of merchandise including script books, and even a hit single supporting Comic Relief, they definitely milked this one and made a few quid out of it I’m sure. vlcsnap-00785

All of the regular series have been released on DVD, packed with extras, as have some of the specials and the tour, and there was even an interactive DVD game to play too. After this, Lucas and Walliams went off to other comedy shows, both together and individually. What is a little surprising is that the show has fallen out of favour recently, and Lucas seems to have disowned some of the characters, but you definitely can’t forget them.