Little Britain: The Complete Collection
December 18, 2007
With Saturday Night Live sinking further and further into mediocrity, sketch comedy was in desperate need of some new blood. From out of England came two warped comedic minds, Matt Lucas and David Walliams and their brilliantly twisted sketch comedy show Little Britain, done in the same anarchic, taboo-smashing tradition as Monty Python and part of a new wave that includes the likes of Knowing Me, Knowing You, the League of Gentlemen, and Peep Show. Together, they kick-started a new renaissance of British comedy that cleverly skewers all levels of its country’s culture. There is an impressive diversity to the cast of characters of Little Britain – from all walks of life, age groups, and economic classes, including teenage girls, private school teachers, guys down at the pub and even the British Prime Minister’s gay assistant. The show follows a simple format that consists of a series of skits featuring a rogue’s gallery of oddball, eccentric and grotesque characters that are overweight or have bad teeth or are rude but are played for laughs because of their outrageous behaviour. Each segment is in turn bridged by a voiceover provided by none other than Tom Baker (of Dr. Who fame) who also provides a hilarious commentary to what we are watching.
Some of the more memorable characters include Vicky Pollard (Lucas), the motormouth teenage girl who tries to talk her way out of the trouble she gets into by speaking so fast that the other person either gets confused or exasperated with the situation. There’s Emily and Florence (Lucas and Walliams), two transvestites who constantly refer to themselves as ladies and dress up in frilly outfits as they try to maintain the illusion that they’re women despite the fact that one of them sports an obvious moustache.
The second season introduced Bubbles DeVere (Lucas), a rich socialite who is running up an expensive tab at a luxurious spa and avoids paying by offering her obese body to the staff. Lucas wears a frighteningly vivid naked fat suit that definitely pushes the boundaries of good taste. Another new addition is a sweet elderly lady (Walliams) that projectile vomits up food she taste tests when she finds out that it has been made by someone who is gay or black. This character was seen as one of the more controversial bits of this new season as people were understandably put off by all the puking, not just the act itself but also how it was directed at hapless bystanders. However, the funniest new character has to be Carol Beer (Walliams), an office drone who denies her customers with the now classic punch-line, “Computer says no,” delivered in perfectly dry deadpanned style by Walliams.
Arguably the best recurring sketch of the show is with Sebastian Love (Walliams), the gay aide to the British Primer Minister (Head) who harbours a painfully obvious crush on his boss who is bafflingly unaware of his intentions (or in deep denial). Walliams plays Love as very flamboyant and is at his best when he gets insanely jealous of anyone who shows any kind of affection or even friendliness towards the PM.
Also included in this set is Little Britain Abroad, which came out of their desire to do a Christmas special but for budgetary reasons they ended up making two half-hour episodes. It also gave them a chance to shoot outside of England, transplanting some of their characters from the show (and a few new ones) to various countries in Europe, like Spain and Italy. Finally, Little Britain Live was done at the Blackpool Opera House and brings the characters we know and love from the show to the live stage.
Lucas and Walliams play well off each other and are fearless performers willing to portray all kinds of grotesque characters both externally and internally. The writing is so very funny and the acting so good and these characters never get tiring to watch. This is due to the talents of Lucas and Walliams who take the kinds of risks SNL is unwilling or unable to.
Fans of Little Britain can get it all with this exhaustive box set that collects all three seasons, Little Britain Abroad, and Little Britain Live with a slew of extra features that will keep you occupied for hours.
There are audio commentaries for every episode for every season and for Abroad and Live by Lucas and Walliams. They talk about the origins of the characters and how they’ve evolved over the years. They also talk about the genesis of Abroad and Live and recount anecdotes of making these shows.
Also included are tons of deleted scenes for everything, their appearances on U.K. talk shows, behind-the-scenes featurettes, the original Pilot episode, Comic Relief sketches, a radio sketch and so many other things.