Little Britain
Best of TV Series 3

Starring: Matt Lucas, David Walliams and Tom Baker
BBC Audio
RRP: 12.99
ISBN 0 563 50428 5
Available 01 May 2006

Highlights from the third TV series include Dudley's mail-order Thai bride having more to her than expected, Lou and Andy getting in a right kerfuffle over a quiz show phone-in, the PM and Sebastian exchanging favours, Dafydd canvassing support in the local Bi Elections, and Vicky Pollard offering scandal to the press - for a price. By the way, computer still says "No"...

Remarkably, the synopsis on the back of this double CD misses out some of the characters that I feel work best in this TV-to-audio compilation.

Carol "computer says 'No'" Beer (David Walliams) and Sebastian (Walliams again) are both quite rightly mentioned, but what about the excellent Roy (Matt Lucas) and Mr Mann (Walliams) sketches, in particular the one involving a painting of a disappointed horse? This skit works just as well - if not better - on audio, even though you cannot see the animals in the paintings. Then there's Linda Flint (Walliams), the university counsellor who is unerringly rude to the students who come to visit her. You don't really need to see what the students look like when Linda describes them as "fatty bum bum" or "Molly the mole". Sir Norman Fry MP (Walliams), who keeps calling press conferences to offer unconvincing explanations for the compromising situations in which he finds himself, could have been created for the audio medium, since his sketches require no visual cues at all.

On the other hand, I am at a loss to explain why the Bubbles DeVere (Lucas), Maggie Blackamoor (Walliams) and Mrs Emery (Walliams) sketches are included on these CDs at all. On TV, these scenes relied heavily on cheap, gruesome visual gimmicks - naked obesity, vomiting and urination respectively - and the latter two characters aren't that funny even when you can see what's going on.

Other skits work better, though you do still need to know what happened on screen. For example, without having seen the TV series, listeners will not understand the endings to any but the very last of the Dudley (Walliams) and Ting Tong (Lucas) scenes. Nor will you get the penultimate Andy (Lucas) sketch or David Baddiel's silent guest appearance as Mr Mann.

This would seem to restrict the market for this product to people who have seen and remember the TV episodes but want to listen to them again on audio (while commuting to work, for instance). These CDs are of little use to the visually impaired - which is a shame, because the show's format has a built-in device for audio description, in the voice of Tom Baker. A few choice words from Baker, such as, "Out steps Mr Mann, looking exactly like David Baddiel. Well, I'll let you into a little secret: actually, it is David Baddiel. Obviously Jack Dee was busy that week," could have made the experience complete. Maybe someone has already suggested this, but BBC Audio says "No".

Rumours abounded at the time of transmission that the third series would also be the last (though it is now known that Lucas and Walliams are in talks with the Beeb for a fourth run). Accordingly, several characters attain a degree of closure here. With other creations, we are merely teased with the possibility of them being written out, but they prove to be red herrings. I won't give away which characters are affected, in case you don't already know.

Best of TV Series 3 does not represent the best of Little Britain, even if you can always tell what is happening. However, there are still plenty of genuine laughs to be had. Reviewer says "Yes".

Richard McGinlay

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