Saturday Smiles

It’s the weekend – in case you hadn’t noticed – and I thought I’d try something different to entertain you for a while. For a change, I thought I’d show you that I don’t just listen to music when I’m on YouTube. They have much more to offer, catering to almost any niche interest you can think of, and a few more that you probably wouldn’t imagine. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the video I watched when I first got my Nintendo Switch: I had searched for videos to show me how to use it, how to insert game cards, etc and the first one I watched showed me how to take the Switch out of its box. And nothing more. So very helpful!

One thing YouTube provides is masses of comedy videos. These range from the self-produced ones by people trying to impress us with their comedic talents – don’t give up the day job, guys – to a raft of clips from TV programmes. These come from all around the globe, but I’m afraid my ability to keep up is only capable of English language ones: I did try a couple in Italian and Spanish but couldn’t understand a word. The women were all beautiful though, so there might be a research project there, I think…

For this first of what may well become an occasional series I thought I’d share four pieces from classic UK comedy shows of days gone by. They all still make me laugh when I watch them, even though they have been around for anything from thirty to nearly sixty years. It will be interesting to see the response from non-UK readers: do you find these funny? Have you ever heard of them before? Are we weird over here? And other thoughts…

The first one comes from quite possibly the best comedy double act we have ever had – in my lifetime, for sure. They often did sketches in what was supposedly their home (don’t ask) and this is, I think, their best:

Not a word spoken, just pure genius at work, even if they did borrow the idea from Benny Hill. And all done in one take, as the poor aim on that final grapefruit shows. Morecambe and Wise were mainstays of our TV through the Seventies, and their annual Christmas Day show became a TV institution. My generation grew up – in days with no recorders or time shift/download options – glued to the TV for an hour on Christmas Day. We wouldn’t have missed it for anything, and it was the perfect antidote to an excess of turkey and stuffing (though the combination of laughter and stuffing could be dangerous). If you’d like to know more about them, their Wikipedia entry is here.

Another classic British TV comedy was Yes Minister, which then became Yes, Prime Minster after its fictional head was promoted to the top job. It ran through most of the Eighties, and was one of the most skilfully written series we’ve ever had: it was sufficiently close to the truth on many occasions to be assumed to have a mole in government circles leaking the stories to them. This is typical of the show. The sound and picture quality aren’t great, but the script and acting more than make up for that:

For those not in the know, all of those newspapers still exist. All but the Morning Star are mainstream – that one is a far left paper, with links to the British Communist Party and a correspondingly very small readership. Back in the Eighties The Sun had a ‘page 3 girl’ every day – you can probably guess the content from the punchline of the video. If you want to know more about the show, you can find their Wikipedia page here.

One of the problems of going back too far into TV history is that the shows I enjoyed on the BBC haven’t survived the passage of time, as the BBC had a policy of wiping the master tapes in order to reuse them, so there are very few clips available. One such series was Not Only…But Also, which ran for three series between 1965 and 1970, following a pilot episode in late 1964. It starred Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, and frequently reduced my Dad and me to helpless laughter – usually at one of the bits where Cook deliberately caused Moore to corpse with laughter too. This sketch is one of their most famous – it never featured in the TV show, but was part of their theatre act and has been recorded for posterity, luckily for me. This goes back to 1964:

Back to the Eighties again for my final selection for today. Only Fools And Horses ran from 1981 to 1991, with a set of one-off Christmas specials which lasted until 2003. The show gave us so many classic moments, which have really spoiled me for choice. This is one of their best known:

You can see it coming, but they set it up so well, even if BBC Studios hadn’t given the game away on the video titling!

If you have enjoyed these please ‘like’ the post and leave a comment. This is something of an experiment for me, and it would be good to have feedback. You never know, I could end up on a mission to take classic British comedy to the world! At the very least, I hope I’ve brought a smile or two to your face and brightened up your weekend.

39 thoughts on “Saturday Smiles

  1. Pingback: Monday InLinkz Join us at 166 Senior Salon

  2. I love British humour, the bad thing is that I’m like you with Spanish, I barely understand English, but fortunately, some of these series, like “Yes, Prime Minster”, were shown in Spain, I also remember “Man About the House” and its sequel “The Roper”, “Alo, Alo”, “The Benny Hill Show” and another one that I can’t remember the name, which was set in a village and was about the rivalry between a Catholic priest and an Anglican priest. All of these were set in Spain and some others that I can’t remember now.

    As an accompaniment, I would recommend the great album “Soap Opera” by The Kinks 😉

    Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your English is far better than the couple of words of Spanish that I know! It’s good to know that so many of our shows have travelled over there. I’m afraid I’ve never heard of that Kinks album, though – maybe a release for your market that we didn’t have here?

      Liked by 1 person

      • It seems to me that if it came out, it’s a great album, in fact, it was used for a musical situation comedy on British TV.

        I found this article, it’s good for the facts, although, of course, I don’t agree at all that it was a stumble on Davies’ part, for me it’s another magnificent work of those geniuses:

        https://ultimateclassicrock.com/kinks-soap-opera/

        Well, maybe my being a fan with a “K” is losing me a bit.

        By the way, to write in English, instead of using Google Translator, I use “DeepL” which I find better and, besides, it has the division between classic English and US English.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Many thanks for the link. It seems like it did come out here but didn’t sell well. It was while I was at uni and watched very little tv, so I guess that’s how I missed it.

        I’d not heard of DeepL but it’s working well for you!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: May It Was | Take It Easy

    • You’re welcome, Bernadette. Reaction has been good so far so I think I’ll do this again. This was Dud before his Hollywood fame days, when he was still ‘ours.’ A genuinely funny man and a talented pianist too. Peter Cook was also great.

      Like

  4. Brilliant idea, Clive. Of course, I’m unfamiliar with most of these performers or shows. I loved the first one. That was simply hilarious. I feel I would have gotten many more of the jokes of the second one if I lived in the UK. The third one had some good moments. I remember Dudley Moore from 10 with Bo Derek and then Arthur. Big punch line on the last one. I didn’t see that coming.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Pete. From feedback so far I think I’ll be doing this again. You could well be right about the second one – it was both of its time and its country. But to us it’s great! Did and Pete were stars here before Dud left us for Hollywood – both of those movies are tremendous. The last one was typical for the show – they always set them up so well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • There are certain universals that we can all relate to. Music is one of those areas, which is why so many of us enjoy Tuesday Tunes. Another is comedy because who doesn’t like a good laugh? I think you may have just found a new series, my friend.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Music and comedy are important, aren’t they. Thanks for your kind words, Pete. And to think, I only did this post on a whim yesterday afternoon, while watching videos at half time in the football!

        Liked by 1 person

      • How is your team doing this year? I remembered that you are a big fan of football (what we like to refer to as soccer over here.) I don’t follow your sport, but I love just about all forms of competition. I’m partial to American football and basketball. My son and wife love Nascar (auto racing). I’ve never quite understood the attraction of that sport. I know one has to be a talented driver, but it seems like it is not an equal playing field as the guys with the fastest cars should win.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The season is now over. I have three teams: Tottenham finished 7th in the Premier League, Leyton Orient 11th in League 2 (the 4th tier), and Dover Athletic (who play in the 5th tier, the National League) ran out of money, had their results expunged when they couldn’t carry on, and have been fined £40k and will start next season on minus 12 points! Not the most memorable of seasons!

        I’ve tried several times to get into American football but have never really taken to it. I’ll watch basketball if there’s nothing else on, but your commentators put me off! Is NASCAR the one where they just drive round an oval? If so, that’s even more boring for me than F1, but at least a good driver can do well in that even without the best car. Sports for me are better when there’s a ball involved, preferably a round one ⚽️🏏🎾

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, Nascar is the sport where the drivers typically go around the oval. There are something like three races a year on what they call road courses, which involve a lot more left and right turns but few opportunities to pass. It is all terribly boring to me, but I like that my wife and son have a sport they share a love for in common.

        I can understand why you find our announcers annoying because I feel the same way about many of them.

        Soccer (your football) ) has become far more popular here than it used to, but I can’t get into it that much. I like sports with more scoring. Another thing I can’t stand is when the players take a dive (go into great theatrics to try and make the referees that they’ve been fouled.) I don’t think that kind of stuff should be rewarded in sports. Our basketball has plenty of that too, which I don’t like in that sport either.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That does sound really boring but, as you say, it’s always good when a parent and child share an interest.

        They are just so over the top! At least when we have a poor game ours tell it like it is, rather than try to hype it as the best thing ever.

        Some of the best football matches can be the ones with few (or no) goals. We don’t need huge scores to make it interesting! I agree: diving is cheating, and should be severely punished.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I think this idea sounds like a plan, Clive…although many other countries don’t get our sense of humour..I’ll never forget on a trip to Denmark Mr Bean was playing in the hotel foyer there was a group of people around the TV and not a titter ..dead silence the same when we went bowling…the Danes are very reserved in public or they were then 🙂 Enjoy your weekend 🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The first made me laugh, as did the final one! Yes, you guys are weird, but in a lovable sort of way! I wasn’t able to understand Yes, Minster, for it wasn’t closed captioned, but did enjoy the others. I’ve seen clips of Yes, Minster before … I think Roger may have sent me a couple … and enjoyed it. Thanks for the chuckles on this rainy Saturday afternoon, Clive!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. as I watched the first video, I was wondering how many takes it required. then I saw that you wrote it was done in one take. quite impressive with all the timing. While I generally prefer spoken word humor, that wasn’t too bad.

    it’s funny to think of a newspaper having a page 3 girl. and it is amazing that all those newspapers still exist. clever dialogue comparing all of them…

    and that was pretty impressive hopping around by Dudley Moore. I’ll always remember him from 10 and Arthur…

    the last one was probably my favorite.

    I’m a big fan of watching videos that make me laugh, so I look forward to more of your posts in this series…

    Liked by 3 people

    • One take, plus a lot of rehearsal, I’d guess. I’m with you on spoken word humour but that sketch is so very good. They did one of those tv polls some years ago on our favourite M&W sketches and that one was the top. If I carry on with this ‘series’ I’ll add in a few of their others – they mixed spoken and visual very well.

      That was the 1980s. Times have changed since then – in this case, for the better. The Sun is the best selling paper here but also the most hated – it’s basically pictures with a few words, for those who can’t really read.

      I think Dud might have been practising for that scene in 10 on the hot sand. We saw it in a cinema and I almost choked on my popcorn laughing at that.

      OFAH is one of our best loved comedies. That scene is fairly typical of its humour, which was also a mix of visual and spoken. The scripts for it were superb.

      Maybe I’ll do more, then? 😊

      Liked by 2 people

      • I think I recall paging throug THe Sun when we were in London a few years ago. It’s funny/sad what it takes to be the bestselling newspaper.

        It would have been funny if Dudley did that scene on the sand with one leg 🙂

        and yes, I do hope you continue the series!

        Liked by 2 people

      • If you saw it a few years ago I’d guess that was the cleaned up version. It’s a scurrilous rag, owned by Murdoch, and is a big rabble rouser in support of Johnson and his government. A paper for people who can’t think, which explains our referendum and recent general election results.

        It would have been quite a feat (as opposed to feet) if he managed to hop around on one leg for that scene. A great movie, though, after he left British tv fame for Hollywood stardom.

        Thanks for your support, I’ll try some more – the title works for both Saturday and Sunday 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • Same playbook. We have a new tv ‘news’ station starting soon, which is following the Fox model. Not owned by Murdoch, but it might as well be, from what I’ve read. Deep joy!

        Liked by 2 people

  8. A good selection of our better comedies.I have recollections of enjoying one called The Lovers with Richard Beckinsale and the first series of Last of The Summer Wine until Michael Bates(?) dies and was replaced with a series of ridiculous and unfunny characters. Porridge was good and showcased Ronnie Barker’s talents well. Thanks for the forgotten laugh with Pete and Dud.
    Hugs

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, David, I’m glad you enjoyed them. I vaguely recall the Beckinsale one, and I did rather like Summer Wine for a time too – Compo was a great comic character. Ronnie Barker was good in just about everything he did, and he wrote some good scripts. The Pete and Dud one had to go in: I used to love their tv shows which, from memory, I was allowed up past my bedtime to watch. If I do this again, there are so many to draw on.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. In Canada, especially in the 60s and 70s, we had a steady stream of content from the UK. One of the benefits of the Commonwealth? Perhaps 🤔. On the comedy end, the obvious was Monty Python (which actually aired on PBS in the US) was one of the first I remember. But you can’t forget: The Two Ronnies, Benny Hill, The Goodies, and Some Mothers do ‘Ave ‘Em. (I think it was spelled that way).
    My most recent favorite was the Sci-fi comedy, Red Dwarf. It may have ran a season or two too long, but the characters were well written, and it still makes me laugh.
    If you look at non-coms: The Prisoner, Coronation Street (not my cup ‘o tea, but I have friends who love it), and Space 1999.
    We don’t get as much content as we did back then, so there may be some undiscovered treasures.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good to know they travelled. We get a few from Canada these days. Murdoch Mysteries, Frankie Drake, Hudson and Rex, Republic of Doyle – no doubt I’ve forgotten others too. I enjoy all of those. You’ve listed some good ones there, some of which I might feature if I do this again. I don’t watch any of the soap operas – I can think of better ways of destroying my brain 😊

      Liked by 2 people

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