Britain, Britain, Britain, also known as Great Britain.
But what makes it so great? The Britons, that's what: the
people of Britain. People like Daffyd Thomas, supposedly the
only gay in his village, rubbish transvestite Emily Howard,
inarticulate West Country delinquent Vicky Pollard, and out
of work actor Dennis Waterman...
Like Dead Ringers, Little Britain has made a
successful transition from radio to television, aided by the
resonant tones of Tom Baker. But whereas the Dead Ringers
Doctor is merely an impressive impersonation by Jon Culshaw,
Little Britain boasts the real deal with its idiosyncratic
narrator. Much of what Baker says could be deeply offensive,
were it not for the sheer insanity of his sentence structures
and tone of voice. He is the glue that binds this brilliant
series of diverse sketches together.
Sci-fi fans will find further pleasure in the naming of two
characters, a games inventor and the boss of Waddingtons,
after Doctor Who actors Matthew Waterhouse (David Walliams)
and Mark Strickson (Matt Lucas), and the prospect of Dennis
Waterman (Walliams) being offered a role in a Star Wars
is one of my favourite characters. He is an entirely inoffensive
creation, since Walliams makes no attempt to mimic the actor's
real voice, but instead imagines him as a performer with an
obsession for not only starring in productions but also writing
the theme tune (pronounced "toon") and singing the theme tune.
I also love the cryptic Scottish chef Ray McCooney (Walliams),
who finds it impossible to give a straight answer to even
the simplest of enquiries. Another favourite is the gay Daffyd
Thomas (Lucas) who, despite his declared opinions about the
prejudices of others, is actually the most uptight person
in his village regarding his sexuality. Then there's the unscrupulous
hypnotist Kenny Craig (Lucas), whose schemes always deservedly
come unstuck, and Mr Grant (Walliams), a teacher dating one
of his pupils. But yes, but no, but yes, but no, but there's
also teenager Vicky Pollard (Lucas), but I wouldn't know about
that, 'cause I wasn't even there, so shut up!
what the heck - all the characters are great!
of the subsequent TV show will notice the absence of Andy
and Lou ("Yeah, I know"), though you can see the genesis of
these characters in Alan the alleged amnesiac (Walliams),
who is actually just plain idle, and the voice of a not particularly
scary ghost (Walliams). Several other characters and sketches
are unique to the radio series, including the self-sacrificing
Mrs O'Mara (Lucas) and the Britannia Cat Club sketch.
It is almost impossible to put The League of Gentlemen
out of mind while listening to the eccentric range
of voices in Little Britain. Marjorie Dawes (Lucas),
the bullying group leader of a slimming club, is uncomfortably
similar in concept to Steve Pemberton's horrid job club officer,
Pauline. St John's ambulance woman April May (Walliams) sounds
a lot like the old ladies from The League's charity
shop, but then men have been putting on squeaky voices and
pretending to be women since the development of pantomime.
There are also elements of Alan Partridge in the embittered
kids' TV dropout Des Kaye and has-been sportsman Denver Mills
my only real criticisms of this double CD have more to do
with its presentation than the material it presents. The track
listing isn't entirely accurate. There are three extra tracks
than are listed on the sleeve, so by the end of each CD you
will find that the track description is at odds with what
you are listening to. And why has the BBC only released highlights
of the two radio series? Little Britain is funny enough
to justify being issued in its full, unadulterated glory.
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