V COMEDY '
The man who started life as the kebab shop owner Stavros is calling an end to hiscomedy sketch show after the new series. Tom Lappin finds out why from Harry Enfield.
Harry Enfield‘s been popping up all over the small screen of late. 'I'owards the tail-end of last year he was in the comedy drama (Jone To The Dogs with Warren Clarke and he‘s currently co-starring with Martin (‘lunes in the laddish but critically well-received Men Behaving Badly. Despite the sitcom activity. he’s yet to shake off his image as the purveyor ofcharacter comedy in the Loadsamoney and Mike Smash and Dave Nice tradition. Which probably explains why the new series of his sketch show will be his last.
"I‘he format of the show is such that we don't want to overdo the characters.‘ says Enfield. "l‘wo series are enough. What we‘ve done is keep all the favourite characters from the first series and added a couple of new ones. We may do the odd Christmas special. but as far as series go. this is it .'
The new characters include the thirty-persons. modern American men not afraid to show their emotions. the Victorian rude gardeners and their phallic vegetables. and a rather fan‘iiliar-sounding barman: ‘That‘s the chap called Leslie Norris. the absent-minded barman.’ explains Enfield. ‘If you go to his pub you just never get served. llis catchphrase is “Now. you gave me a tenner. . 1’” ‘
Oh yes. the catchphrase. Enfield has the ability
: to come up with little blocks ofwords that seem to i become ingrained in the consciousness of the
worst sorts ofadolesccnts and tabloid sub-editors
- and eventually become part ofcommon usage ‘lt‘s
unpleasant isn‘t it.‘ he admits. ‘If we notice a phrase. we like using it. and I'm afraid I‘m rather fond ofcatchphrases. [remember when l was
fifteen or sixteen everonc was going around saying “this is getting silly" or “Basilil”. It gives you something to do instead of having to remember a joke.’
The sketch series follows the original pattern of being a kind of Vi: for TV. with sharply-drawn characters in very small doses. It‘s an effective but limiting format. ‘lt‘s a comic for the small screen certainly.‘ says Enfield. ‘probably not as clever as Viz. but if you do something a bit more subtle it's going to disappoint people. That said. my favourite bits in the new series are the ones that don‘t rely solely on a quick joke. 'I‘here’s a sketch about a group called Republic Of Soul A D and I‘ve got a goatee beard and a bandana and all that bollocks and we’re a very self-important post-rap group going on about the originality of our music. There aren't any jokes. it's just observational stuff. but that‘s the sort ofdirection I‘d like to be going in. We did a pisstake ofllanif Kureishi films.
Harry Enfield as Wayne Slob
called England Bloody brig/and. which was just a black guy and a white guy having a fight and then snogging and buying a laundrette. But we had to cut it because the two guys playing the parts acted so well that it looked out ofplace in this sketch show with me mugging and being over—the-top.‘
The hour-long documentary pastiche .N’orbert Smith: A Life which he made a couple ofyears ago remains. by his own and others‘ reckoning. Enfield‘s finest work. and it‘s this subtler satirical format that he is keen to return to. He plans to devote some time to preparing new material. as well as presenting a Channel 4 guide to opera for the layman. In the meantime ‘You didn't want to do that' and ‘Great bloke. does a lot for chariddy' will be on everyone‘s lips for another six weeks at least.
Harry [in field '5 Television Programme starts on B B ( '2 on Thursday 2 April at 9pm.
[IIIIIII Decent exposure 5
Here’s the set-up. The main character is a bemused young doctor with a predilection for bagels. He is posted to a small Alaskan town, Cicely (population 839) inhabited by an assortment of wackos and eccentrics. Two of the town elders fight for the attentions of former Miss Northwest Passage (l?) Shelly Tambo, while a moose wanders through the town at
l regularinlervals. I Get a feeling of deja vu here? You‘re , forgiven. The similarities to David
So where'sthe moose?
Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks are , initially striking. In case you miss i them, the publicity shots feature a striking picture of a moose, and the series is described as ‘enchantingly
Owl fetishists shouldn’t get too excited though, forthe resemblances are superficial. Creators and Executive Producers Joshua Brand and John Falsey were the team responsible for the hospital drama St Elsewhere, and the feel of Northern Exposure is closer to that series' blend of wisecracking dialogue and offbeat characterisation.
Rob Morrow plays the central character, New York Jewish doctor Joel Fleischman, with a blend of metropolitan arrogance and
0N FOLLOWING PAGES: REVIEW OF THE CAMOMILE LAWN 0 VIDEO ROUND-UP
ingenuousness. His culture shock at arriving in Cicely forms the basls of the
pilot episode, along with an introduction to the dramatis personae. Darren Burrows as the Keanu Reeves lookalike and soundalike Alaskan Indian Ed looks set to become something of a cult heartthrob. 5
Northern Exposure, unlike Twin
Peaks, became a popular and critical hit in the states, Marvin Kitman ol Newsday describing it as ‘one of the live shows I’d kill to keep on the air’. 0n Channel 4 it fills the spot recently relinquished by thirtysomething. Things can only get better. . . (Tom Lappin) Northern Exposure begins on Channel 4 on Monday ‘6 March at 10pm.
The List l3 — 26 March 1992 59