Have you ever wanted to watch Look Around You but been
unable to because an episode was not being transmitted at
that exact moment? Well, now you can - thanks to this: a DVD.
The DVD (which stands for Dynamic Visual Decoding) allows
you to watch any or all of the six episodes in the second
series of Look Around You, with or without an optional
must admit that I prefer the shorter, schools-programme format
first series to the half-hour Tomorrow's World
set-up of the second. However, I enjoyed watching the
second series more the second time around - and I'm not just
saying that out of guilt, having heard the audio commentary
and learned how hard the show was to make!
Lambert's voice-over is sorely missed, but there are plenty
of blasts from the past to keep old-school fans happy. Each
episode includes a variation on "Thanks, ants. Thants." Imhotep,
the Easter Island head, appears twice. The Music episode,
which kicks off the series, features a ghost - in this case
the ghost of Tchaikovsky (Harry Enfield) - and also reprises
the video to Jack Morgan's (Robert Popper) song "Little Mouse".
Popper and Peter Serafinowicz (as Peter Packard), who were
largely mute during the original series, take centre stage
as the presenters of this one. They are joined by two new
additions to the cast: Olivia Colman (as Pam Bachelor) and
Josie D'Arby (as Pealy Maghti).
stars are also more prominent this time around. In addition
to Enfield, watch out for Hyperdrive's Kevin Eldon;
Serafinowicz's old Spaced
buddies Mark Heap (as the appropriately named Leonard Hatred),
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost; Still Game's Sanjeev Kohli
(as Synthesiser Patel); Coupling's Sarah Alexander
(who also happens to be Serafinowicz's girlfriend); and Colman's
Peep Show co-star David Mitchell. In addition, Little
Britain's Matt Lucas and David Walliams lend
their vocal talents to the fan-favourite characters of "Cobbles"
sufferer Dr Phillip Lavender and the supercomputer Bournemouth.
Doctor Who fans may well fail (as I did) to recognise
Paul ("no, not the mind probe") Jericho as Computer Jones.
of the jokes are used twice. There's a man who loves synthesisers
so much he changed his name to Synthesiser Patel. There's
a man who loves computers so much he changed his name to Computer
Jones. Pealy uses an electric toothbrush, a side effect of
which is that the tone of her voice is dramatically raised.
Pam uses a memory helmet, a side effect of which is that the
tone of her voice is dramatically lowered.
other respects, however, this is an excellent spoof of Tomorrow's
World in the early 1980s. The fashions (lots of browns),
set design (more browns), electropop-style music, captions,
the 4:3 aspect ratio, even the DVD subtitles are all perfectly
of the time, as are the hopelessly inaccurate predictions
of life in the year 2000. There's an emphasis on crap technology
that fails to make life any easier or simpler, as demonstrated
by Peter taking the best part of a minute to type in and run
a computer program that speaks the title of the show - and
doesn't even get it right - or a records chart that erases
discs in the process of recording their sales.
The special features maintain the period illusion, including
the whispering tones of Serafinowicz's continuity announcer,
who calmly tells us which page of the menu screens we are
currently viewing. The extras include more spoof pages from
Ceefax, a short episode of Birds of Britain and a Medibot
test card, which leads into an alternate take on the response
to Jack's plastic surgery in Health.
audio commentary, by writers/producers/performers/composers
Serafinowicz and Popper, is even less revelatory than that
on the previous DVD, mainly due to the fact that Serafinowicz
has a stinking cold and would clearly rather be tucked up
in bed cradling a Lemsip. However, we do learn about some
of the challenges of making the series, such as the desperate
last-minute use of library footage and voice-overs when episodes
ran short, and the technical and vocal wizardry that led to
the brilliantly crafted illusion of HRH Sir Prince Charles'
guest appearance in the final episode.
you are, whatever you do, look around for this DVD.