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.

1 comment:

  1. Lucky that you didn't see "The Strike", which I found utter crap. Richardson still had some pull in recent years too, as he managed to helm "Churchill: the Hollywood Years", which was equally terrible - wouldn't be surprised if Christian Slater has tried to buy up every copy so he can dispose of them personally.