Farewell and good riddance to Little Britain | Barbara Ellen

Few should mourn the passing of one of the most unpleasant TV shows ever

It appears that Little Britain creators, David Walliams and Matt Lucas, are ending their partnership. Permanently, temporarily – who knows or cares? If this is the end of an era, good riddance.

People slag off Frankie Boyle, quite rightly sometimes (gags about Down's syndrome kids, how depressing). However, at least with him, one gets the impression that there's a conscience rattling around in there, the sense of someone on a true comedy kamikaze mission, always primed to go down in flames.

By contrast, when Walliams and Lucas hit the big time, they exuded the frantic, scrabbling aura of also-rans who'd been hacking away in the shadows of TV and radio for years. Indeed, basking in the postcoital glow of their longed-for fame, they'd say things such as: "There were times when we wondered if it would ever happen for us."

Maybe this delay (bringing with it desperation and lack of confidence?) explains why they lunged so frantically for the lowest common denominator and refused to let go. Perhaps this gives context to the endless spew of chav jokes, mental illness jokes and fat jokes, with Lucas, by far the more talented of the duo, clinging to "fat is funny" as if the only thing he had going for him was his high BMI.

Elsewhere, there was the gormless teen mum Vicky Pollard; that creepy care-in-the-community skit, with Andy Pipkin, the guy in the wheelchair. And then there were dragged-up "women" so hideous they made Hinge and Bracket resemble glamour models. The relative charm of Daffyd, "the only gay in the village", just wasn't enough to save what was one of the most sneering, cold-hearted, nasty little shows ever seen on British TV.

Rewarding middle-class, educated, comedy workaholics for lampooning people without any of their advantages, struggling on the margins of society – was this where we'd come to, a boorish festival of exploitation and contempt?

Walliams once gave an interview saying something to the effect of how he found "inspiration" just looking around ordinary streets and seeing funny little people leading their funny little lives. Hmm. One wonders why he didn't just look around the private members' clubs he frequented, where there were plenty of "funny little people"– specifically, vile media prats. Why didn't Walliams write "comedy gold" about this, an elitist sphere he knew about, rather than a world of pain he didn't?

Admittedly, I've developed a real problem with the preening Mr Walliams and the way he oozes about the place like the Peter Mandelson of comedy. I reacted to the news of Walliams's laudable charity Channel swim with an inner howl of: "NO! Does this mean I'll have to hate him less?" Which is pathetic.

Then again, how much swimming would a comedian have to do before they were cleansed of the karmic stench of having a hand in creations such as Vicky Pollard, who alone gave certain sections of the media a label for the disgust they love to express towards young girls spiralling downwards, due to poverty, illiteracy and teen pregnancy. By my calculations, that's a lot of front crawl.

Little Britain had our full attention and, for the most part, all it did was escort us down to an underclass bedlam to jeer at the loonies. So spare us this pompous announcement of their split, as if something terribly important has occurred.

Little Britain USA tanked and so did the unfunny Come Fly With Me. It would appear that the partnership that brought us "yeah, but" is going out in a blaze of indifference, which, in my opinion, is fully deserved.

Be brave, Harry, and take up abseiling

So Prince Harry is going to fight the Taliban as an Apache helicopter pilot. If I remember rightly, there was some sibling rivalry, aired between William and Harry, a couple of years ago. It went along the lines of: "I wanna fly a helicopter in Afghanistan." "Nah, I wanna!" I thought then as I do now: what is this – a military version of boy racer syndrome? Now here we are again.

I don't want to undermine Harry's courage, which is surely as real as that of all service personnel in his position. However, this is lunacy. The mere fact of his presence will stoke enemy interest to an unprecedented degree, therefore putting everybody working alongside him at far greater risk. What bigger scalp could there be as payback for Osama bin Laden?

Never mind the extortionate extra costs involved in protecting a royal – why did they have to announce it? Shouldn't the entire operation have been kept secret, only made public on his safe return? That way, Harry wouldn't have painted a giant dartboard on his forehead or endangered his comrades.

So what if a prince of the realm wants to fight for his country. Tell him he can't, because he's a security risk. Personally, I'm rather less concerned at the thought of thwarting Harry's military ambitions than I am for those compromised by his presence. Middle Eastern conflict seems dangerous enough without an action prince turning up in a helicopter.

As Captain Mainwaring used to say: "Stupid boy." Harry should be made aware that courage is mutable. In this instance, the truly brave thing for him to have done would have been to drop the whole military idea and take up abseiling or hang-gliding – indeed, any pursuit that only puts his own neck at risk.

Take That fans have nothing to be ashamed of

Much has been made of the "lairy, middle-aged" Take That fans on tour. At the band's Manchester date, Robbie Williams observed: "We used to have the record for girls fainting. Now it's for the most boozed-up, middle-aged women. I, Robbie Williams, am proud of you."

Nice one, Robbie, I owe you a cheeky bra-flash. As for those who look down on the rampaging "Thatters", how dare they?

My mum was always gallivanting off to gigs in middle age: first Barry Manilow (Mani-love!) and then Will Young. Health issues mean she can't stalk either of these gentlemen as exuberantly as she used to, but I'm glad she did. When her children were very young, she never had any money and rarely went out, so she was fully entitled to embrace her inner teenybopper in later years.

I'm sure many of the "Thatters" have similar stories – some people don't get to have a proper "yoof". Anyway, who passed the law saying that live music was just for the young and trendy? So party on, Take That ladies. Compared to the drunken bun fighters at "posh" Ascot, you've been veritable models of propriety.

Contributor

Barbara Ellen

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Can Little Britain stagger out of the gutter this time? We can only hope | Barbara Ellen
The bad boys of repulsive comedy want to clean up their act – 12 years too late

Barbara Ellen

25, Jan, 2020 @4:45 PM

Will Hutton: Good riddance to grammar schools
Will Hutton: David Cameron's brave education U-turn finally offers hope to those pupils being left behind.

Will Hutton

19, May, 2007 @11:16 PM

Article image
Megxit has been good for the royal couple... the other couple, that is | Barbara Ellen
The Cambridges are proving to be experts at self-marketing. Sorry about that, Harry

Barbara Ellen

01, May, 2021 @5:00 PM

Article image
Blacking up was of a piece with 'comedy' that dealt in contempt | Nick Cohen
Little Britain, removed from BBC streaming services, anticipated a coming vindictiveness

Nick Cohen

13, Jun, 2020 @6:00 PM

Article image
Praise Philip, the Prince of Misrule | James Hawes
He acted as a safety valve and a symbol of a halcyon age – a successor should be found as soon as possible

James Hawes

06, May, 2017 @11:24 PM

Article image
A liberal deep inside the Palace? Yes, that’s Prince Harry
In asking the press to respect his girlfriend’s privacy, the young royal has put papers in an awkward spot

Catherine Bennett

13, Nov, 2016 @12:05 AM

Article image
Halle Berry and Prince Harry’s teenage kicks | Rebecca Nicholson
Reprinted photos of the young royal at Eton have prompted a sporting response from the film star

Rebecca Nicholson

01, Sep, 2018 @3:00 PM

Article image
Why Mother’s Day is about love, not how hot you look | Barbara Ellen
Why has such a cherished occasion been so debased by commercial vulgarity?

Barbara Ellen

06, Mar, 2016 @8:41 AM

Article image
Forelock-tugging is all the rage thanks to Harry and Kate | Catherine Bennett
Catherine Bennett: The Queen's diamond jubilee has coincided with a new era of unbridled genuflection to the House of Windsor

Catherine Bennett

11, Mar, 2012 @12:06 AM

Article image
I'm not blind to Meghan Markle's flaws, but she's been treated abominably | Barbara Ellen
The racism directed at the duchess was all too real

Barbara Ellen

25, Jul, 2020 @5:30 PM