Saturday, 31 December 2016
576 The Comic Strip Presents....
First viewed : 2 November 1982
After Paul Hogan. there was the film Walter with Ian McKellern , then the last thing I saw that night was the first Comic Strip film Five Go Mad In Dorset. I laughed so much that my sister, who'd gone to bed, came down to see what was so funny.
The Comic Strip was a group of alternative comedians drawn together by Peter Richardson in 1980 to perform at the Raymond Revue Bar. After Rik Mayall, Alexei Sayle, Nigel Planer, Ade Edmondson and Arnold Brown had all signed up he realised he needed so put an ad out which drew in Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders. Channel Four originally commissioned them to do five playlets one for the first night then four in January 1983
Five Go Mad In Dorset was a vicious parody of Enid Blyton's resolutely formulaic children's adventure stories featuring the Famous Five and The Secret Seven, attacking both the writing style and Blyton's old school Tory worldview. We'd both enjoyed those books as kids but still found it hilarious. The bit that had me in hysterics was the inclusion of the half-heard conversation plot device she always used as in "Blah blah Blah... secret passages... Blah blah blah... kidnapped scientists...blah blah blah,,, Third World War " This was intoned in a deliberately wooden fashion by the two criminals who just happened to be standing by the Five's tents.
The programme drew a number of complaints about the insertion of sexual content into the story. Saunders's Anne is told she's well developed for a ten year old, French's George is implied to be involved in bestiality with the dog Timmy and the two boys played by Edmondson and Richardson are presented as gay. At the film's climax the children's Uncle Quentin played by Keith Allen is outed as a paedophile. Allen drew some credibility for his involvement with the film after years as a stuffed shirt in Crossroads.
Sadly the team was never this good again and I soon gave up on them. The only other episodes I recall are the first follow-up Five Go Mad on Mescalin which had no new ideas and Dirty Movie . In the latter, Edmondson played a porn-fixated cinema projectionist and it was absolutely dire. That was my point of departure.
As we know, these performers went on to many greater things apart from Richardson himself who was too much of a control freak to work to anyone else's script. He's still in the game as a screenwriter albeit less active in recent years.