Take a journey around Little Britain
, a small and surreal parallel universe peopled by over-the-top eccentrics, lunatics an social misfits. Meet Vicky Pollard, the gloriously incoherent trailer trash teenager. And Emily Howard, the world's least convincing transvestite. Then there's Andy, sitting all day in his wheelchair painstakingly looked after by Lou, who has no idea his friend can walk. Little Britain
presents the breathtaking debris of modern life in all its glory.
"Britain, Britain, Britain, land of technological achievement. We've had running water for over 10 years, an underground tunnel that links us to Peru, and we invented the cat," narrates Tom Baker gleefully at the beginning of Little Britain
, introducing the first hit show for fledgling digital channel BBC3 and the best new British comedy since The League of Gentlemen
In fact, creators and stars Matt Lucas and David Walliams acknowledge a large debt to the League, not only in the gallery of grotesques all performed by the duo, but also in the way in which the familiar sketch-show format is expanded by clever use of locale: not Royston Vasey here, but "Britain" itself in all its perverse splendor: from Darkly Noon, where chavette Vicky Pollard seems all too frighteningly real ("Yeah, but no, but yeah. Shut up!"), to the Welsh village with only one gay, to the council estate where buck-toothed Lou looks after apparently wheelchair-bound Andy ("Yeah, I know"), to Kelsey Grammar School where pupils are baffled and confused by their fusty teacher, and many more besides. It's unashamedly puerile stuff and, as with The Fast Show
before it, many sketches rely on a single incident or catchphrase repeated over and over in only slightly different contexts. But it works brilliantly, thanks to the characterizations of Lucas and Walliams, their sharp eye for the eccentricities of modern life, and of course that surreal voiceover from Tom Baker. Another triumph for Auntie Beeb. --Mark Walker
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