We mark the end of our first week of British comedy couple profiles with a somewhat ‘unconventional’ couple. With Hugo and Alice, you had two people that didn’t even know they were a couple. With Edmund Blackadder and Baldrick, you have two people that have been together for 432 years from the British monarchy to World War I. How can you not be considered in the running for favorite British comedy couple of all-time with that longevity?
Couple #7 – A cunning plan
Without question, one of the funniest lines in the history of British comedy as written by Richard Curtis….funniest to me, anyway.
Unfortunately, the long-time rumors of a fifth season of Blackadder after all these years are just that, rumors. The best one I think I ever heard was that it would be set in 1960′s London with Blackadder in a Dave Clark 5-type rock and roll band with a drummer called, Bald Rick. I’m ready to buy it if it’s ever made.
Re-cap of the first week….before voting on Saturday, Feb 13
Couple #1 – Audrey fforbes-Hamilton and Richard DeVere
Couple #2 – Tom and Barbara Good
Couple #3 – Jerry and Margo Ledbetter
Couple #4 – Basil and Sybil Fawlty
Couple #5 – Tom Ballard and Diana Trent
Couple #6 – Hugo Horton and Alice Tinker
Created by Richard Curtis, the Vicar of Dibley has probably the best collection of an ensemble cast as there ever was in a British comedy. Starting with Geraldine and David Horton, right down the Parish Council with Owen, Jim, Frank and Letitia, the series is genius. Up next in our quest for favorite British comedy couple of all-time….
Couple #6 – A verger and a dim-witted son
Sometimes, couples come from the shadows of a series. Sometimes, they don’t even realize they are couples. In the case of Hugo Horton (James Fleet) and Alice Tinker Horton (Emma Chambers), it took a vicar to get them together. It’s not like the Vicar hasn’t upset Hugo’s father, David, enough just by being the new vicar, now she makes it her “calling” to get Hugo and Alice together which culminates into a wedding not to be missed. How many weddings can say they had Daleks and Teletubbies in attendance?
Obviously, Geraldine played Cupid quite well as they went on to have 10 children, the eldest, Geraldine, infamously born on Christmas Eve. How could this not work? Alice believes in the Easter Bunny, Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy. And, after reading The Da Vinci Code, Alice believes she is a direct descendant of Jesus. She thought Black Sabbath was a gospel singing group. Hugo, as his father’s campaign manager, ends up campaigning door to door for his opponent and calls Geraldine, Mrs. God.
Hey, I can’t make this stuff up.
By no means am I trying to influence the voting for favorite all-time British comedy couple, he says, but I happen to think this couple from a very, very underrated series deserves a shot. From a series standpoint, Waiting for God had a relatively long run on BBC One for five seasons.
The series dealt with numerous subjects, including alcoholism and adultery, that weren’t dealt with freely on television starting off with the continuous theme running throughout of two people thrown together by families that had no time or interest in them anymore. In addition, it was a comedy that empowered a lot of television viewers in the early ’90′s by showing an older age demographic as being funny, headstrong and clever as opposed to being nothing more than the butt of “age jokes”.
Couple #5 – Waiting for God
Bayview Retirement Home was never the same once Diana Trent (a retired photojournalist) and Tom Ballard (life-long accountant) moved in. Making life difficult for Harvey, the manager of Bayview, may have been their daily task, but it’s each others company that kept them on top of their game. They definitely were not ‘Waiting for God’.
She’s cynical and acerbic, he lives in a fantasy world much of the time. Their goal? To wreak as much havoc as possible on the younger staff to make like worth living at Bayview.
With that said, couple #5 – Tom Ballard (Graham Crowden) and Diana Trent (Stephanie Cole)
Bungee Jump anyone?
We continue our search for everyone’s favorite British comedy couple of all-time. Thanks to everyone for the suggestions, including the ones that push the boundaries of “comedy”. We’ll definitely find a way to get them all on the ballot for voting on February 13. Up next…
Couple #4 – Fawlty Towers
In my book, favorite couples can also send you screaming from the room. How can you not include the likes of Basil and Sybil Fawlty on the potential most favorite British comedy couple of all-time list. Inexplicable as they may be together, they probably couldn’t last a day without each other.
When one thinks about Basil and Sybil Fawlty, who on Earth do you feel more sorry for? Sybil, who is so affectionately referred to as that golfing puff adder, my little piranha fish, and my little nest of vipers by Basil? Maybe it’s Basil who, according to Sybil, is an aging, brilliantined stick insect that you empathize with. She’s verbally abusive. He’s snobbish and rude and has an outward distaste for “riff-raff”. Whomever it is, they’ve been together for 15 years when the series began. Had they remained together, which I suspect they would have, they would be celebrating their 52nd anniversary this year!
Anyone detect the smell of burning martyr?
In the episode titled “The Anniversary“, Cleese claimed that it deliberately took a slightly different tone from the others, focusing on fleshing out their otherwise inexplicable status as a couple.
Couple #3 – Jerry & Margo Ledbetter
One immediately thinks of Tom and Barbara when remembering The Good Neighbors (The Good Life in the UK). However, the most underrated couple in British comedy series, Jerry and Margo Ledbetter, took on a much greater role after the first episode. If you think back to that first episode, Margo (played superbly by Penelope Keith) was only voiceover. Immediately recognizing what they had in both Penelope and Paul Eddington (Jerry), the roles increased and Penelope Keith ultimately won a BAFTA award for the character of Margo Ledbetter in 1977. The clash between Tom & Barbara and the snobbish Margo made for great television that even had one episode taped with The Queen in the live studio audience.
Daily Mirror vs The Telegraph – no comparison in Margo’s eyes
If you’re playing along at home getting ready to vote on Feb 13, so far, we have Audrey & Richard (couple #1), Tom & Barbara Good (couple #2) and now, Jerry & Margo (couple #3). See you tomorrow for what may be a surprise “couple” to some.
We’re off to a great start, lots of conversation after only one day! Should it be Audrey & Richard, what about Basil & Sybil, maybe the “non-couple” of Edmund Blackadder and Baldrick. Lots of things to ponder over the next couple of weeks as you think back on a lifetime of watching British comedy where ever you might be. That said, up next…
Couple #2 – The Good Neighbors
Everyone’s favorite “couple next door” until Tom turns 40, chucks the rat-race, quits his job and begins raising vegetables, chickens and pigs in the backyard so that he and Barbara can become self-sufficient. The series starred Richard Briers as Tom, Felicity Kendal as Barbara and next door neighbors, Jerry and Margo, played by Paul Eddington and Penelope Keith. Personally, I think the series holds up today and is more relevant than ever in the 21st century.
Vote for your favorite couple on Saturday, February 13
Remember, we’ll profile one couple a day up to Saturday, February 13 when the voting begins. Come back tomorrow for couple #3 in our Valentines Day search for the favorite British comedy couple of all-time. Got a favorite? Let me know and we’ll see about including on the ballot.
In the mean time, I leave you with the greatness of The Good Neighbors starring Felicity Kendal and Richard Briers, couple #2.
While we’re all still in the Valentines Day mood, I got to thinking that most, if not all of our collective favorite British comedy series center around couples. Each week viewers have been treated to the ups, downs, challenges, conflicts, tensions and situations where we have either wondered how on earth they got together in the first place, remained together for so many years or if they will EVER get together.
So, over the course of the next couple of weeks, we’ll focus on one famous British comedy couple a day that will culminate in an on-line poll on Saturday, February 13 to where you can vote for your favorite all-time British comedy couple with the winner announced on Valentines Day. Some may be very clear, some not so apparent. That’s the advantage I have in that I get to make up the rules. First up….
Couple #1 – To the Manor Born
Who can forget the long-awaited show that was, at one time, the highest rated show in the U.K. when Audrey fforbes-Hamilton and Richard DeVere eventually married. You know the story. Upper-class Audrey has to move out of the manor after the death of her husband. Millionaire outsider, Richard, moves into the manor which causes a lengthy love-hate relationship over the years culminating in the series finale where they get married. To refresh your memory of Richard and Audrey…
Remember, your favorite couple can’t win if you don’t vote!
Don’t forget to hang with us for the next couple of weeks and then please vote for your favorite on Saturday, February 13.
So, if you are playing along at home, Couple #1 – Richard DeVere (Peter Bowles) and Audrey fforbes-Hamilton (Penelope Keith). At this point, I have the couples mapped out as to who we are going to feature, but feel free to try and convince me to include or delete as you see fit. Also, with comments, feel free to try and influence others to vote for your favorite when the polls open. See you tomorrow when we feature couple #2.
Not to worry, British drama fans. Didn’t leave you out of the Valentine’s shopping mix. Took care of the comedy folks yesterday, time for the top five all-time favorite drama DVD sets that will be great additions to DVD libraries across the land. Don’t forget that if you click the link below which takes you to Amazon and actually purchase something, KERA gets a small percentage of that purchase to support British comedy programming.
Again, all you have to do now is remember the flower/dinner part of the equation.
To this day, this 13-part series, starring Sir Derek Jacobi, John Hurt and Brian Blessed, is still pure greatness and consistently ranks in every poll every done as one of the best in BBC history. In addition to the series, in the true sense of “DVD extras” you also get a documentary feature, The Epic That Never Was which is a behind-the-scenes look at the ill-fated 1937 screen adaptation of I, Claudius, starring Merle Oberon and Charles Laughton.
Given the age of this series, not much in the way of “DVD extras”, but it’s still recognized as one of the all-time favorites both on the BBC and on PBS as part of the Masterpiece Theatre series. The New York Times originally wrote that Poldark, starring Robin Ellis, was a “romantic adventure, complete with raging ambition, terrible betrayals, frustrated loves, daring deeds, and a marvelously dashing hero”. How can you go wrong with that? Anyone remember Robin Ellis in the Fawlty Towers “Touch of Class” episode?
Definition of “megaset”? Easy. 68 episodes, 20 DVD’s. Also includes shows not aired during the original broadcast and an hour-long retrospective Upstairs Downstairs Remembered: The 25th Anniversary Special. Have to think the Bellamy family exploits at 165 Eaton Place and their servants below made up the first reality series ever on television….and, the best.
We already know where I stand in the whole “Jeremy Brett vs. Robert Downey Jr” issue so how could I not include this in my top five. I know, I need to let this go, but it’s still one of the greats of all time in the early days of the PBS series, Mystery, when you had Poirot, Miss Marple and Rumpole of the Bailey to look forward to along with Sherlock Holmes. Along with the 41 episodes on 12 discs, you also get promos, commentary tracks, an exclusive interview with Edward Hardwicke, who played Dr. Watson, an interview with Adrian Conan Doyle and more.
Last, but certainly not least, another classic from Great Performances starring Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews. If Upstairs/Downstairs was early, early reality television, Brideshead Revisited was definitely appointment television in those days along with Dallas and, later, Tales of the City. Again, given the age of the series, not much in the way of “extras”, but you do get the full 11-hour series, a retrospective documentary, Revisiting Brideshead, outtakes, a companion guide with director’s introduction, episode descriptions, an Evelyn Waugh biography, photo gallery, production notes and cast filmographies.
My work here is done. The rest is up to you for Valentines Day. Anyone else have a different top-five to help out?
That time of year again. Valentine’s Day rolling around and you aren’t sure what to get beyond the flowers/dinner option. You’re kicking yourself because Eddie Izzard has come and gone so tickets to see him are out. That’s where we come in.
Based on no scientific research other than these are the sets that I think are the best of the best, so feel free to challenge or offer up other suggestions as to what to get that ultimate British comedy fan in the household. In no particular order, here are my top five choices. Tomorrow will be the top five non-comedy must have DVD sets.
Oh, and very cool FYI news, if you click the links below, you go directly to Amazon and a small percentage of the sale of whatever you purchase will benefit KERA if you buy from any of these links. Still time to order and get free shipping and it should be there by Feb 14. Now you just have to remember the flowers and the dinner reservations. Not to worry, we’re there for you….
In addition to twelve of the funniest shows that exist, the remastered set also includes exclusive commentary by John Cleese and extended interviews with the cast, including an exclusive interview with Connie Booth. Also, series 1 director’s commentary by John Howard Davies and series 2 director’s commentary by Bob Spiers. What would a DVD set be without outtakes, a much-needed Torquay Tourist Guide and a little easter egg here and there with some great trivia.
In addition to all four of the Blackadder series remastered, the “ultimate edition” features new commentary by Rowan Atkinson, Stephen Fry, Ben Elton and Richard Curtis, Tony Robinson and Tim McInnery. If the 20+ episodes aren’t enough, there’s also Blackadder Rides Again, the 60-minute documentary which marks the 25th anniversary along with exclusive extended interviews with Hugh Laurie, Rowan Atkinson, Richard Curtis, Ben Elton, Tony Robinson and Stephen Fry. If that’s still not enough, there’s Blackadder’s Christmas Carol, Blackadder the Cavalier Years, Blackadder Back and Forth, Baldrick’s Video Diary and much more.
This “full bouquet” includes all 40 episodes plus 3 Christmas specials featuring the great Patricia Routledge as Hyacinth Bucket. As always, there are DVD extras including outtakes, interviews with cast members, Clive Swift, Geoffrey Hughes and Judy Cornwell along with cast biographies.
Created some 30 years ago, this series still amazes me as to how relevant and how timely it still is today. Starring the great Paul Eddington and Sir Nigel Hawthorne, this DVD set includes all 21 episodes on 4 discs along with both a “Short History of Yes Minster” and “Sir Nigel Hawthorne Remembered“. If this becomes a must have, don’t forget the sequel, Yes Prime Minister, for next year.
Not only are all three seasons included in addition to the classic Easter and Christmas Lunch specials, but you also get the genius Comic Relief sketches from 1997, 1999, 2005 and 2007. Not enough, you’re saying? How about the documentary: The Real Vicars of Dibley, the 10th Anniversary Specials, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and the very funny Dibley Defrocked – Behind the scenes at the 10th Anniversary Specials.
Word from Hollywood is that NBC has put a hold on David Tennant’s leap into the U.S. television landscape with the series, Rex is Not Your Lawyer. Originally penciled in as a post-failed Jay Leno 10:00pm experiment series, the show now seems destined for a Fall 2010 premiere. Currently, with a pilot in the can, even the network of choice is unclear. NBC-Universal is declining comment at this point, which opens up a great opportunity for Fox to grab it and put in their Monday line-up with House as a lead-in (dump 24, but that’s another story for another day).
While this is unwanted news for those David Tennant fans that haven’t been able to function since the end of his run at the Tenth Doctor, you can get your fix on April 28, 2010 on PBS when Tennant and Sir Patrick Stewart star in the Royal Shakespeare Company presentation of Hamlet. This is well worth the couple of months wait.
Can’t wait until April 2010?