Messrs Don and George McDiarmid now have more than a single surname between them, they have their own sitcom, as Jack Docherty and Moray Hunter told Thom Dibdin.
‘Are there sufﬁcient underpants?’ There are nutters for whom the asinine question still brings instant comic relief and the sort of belly-laugh once exclusively the preserve of Monty Python sketches. If you've spotted the quote. chances are you’re a friend of the family Nice. a Stonybn'dge supporter. in short, an aﬁcionado of Absolutely.
Complete strangers ask Jack Docherty, aka Mr Nice, the question in the pub. Which is a bit off- putting really, as it is at least four years since he performed the line in the ﬁrst series of Absolutely. Now he's gone on to larger things with fellow Stonyburnian Moray Hunter. as Don and George make it to sitcom-hood on Channel 4.
Don and George in a sitcom? Not, one would have thought. the most likely of Absolutely's strange cargo to spread to 24 minutes of connected surrealism. ‘For most people they were the last choice of characters from Absolutely that could sustain a sitcom,’ says Hunter as Docherty adds. ‘that’s why it interested us. because it wasn‘t easy, i suppose.’
‘For most people they were the last choice of characters from Absolutely that could sustain a sitcom. That’s why it interested us.’
‘We‘ve tried to make them a bit more accessible,’ says Docherty. ‘They were kind of mad a lot of the time in Absolutely. We say that we were experimenting. but now they are a bit more human.’ Not that Hunter would like anyone to know anyone like Don or George. ‘ln the sketch show we would have an idea or a notion that they could do. in the sitcom we had to make them. perhaps not recognisany human, but their emotions had to be recognisably human. So they're in suneal situations, but it‘s all about ambition, lust, pride and arrogance or whatever. Now you would go, “Oh I know that emotion. but i don't know that type of person“.’
mr don and mr george (upgraded from simple Don and George in reverence to Messers Pink, White et al in Reservoir Dogs) have taken a while to get their own show. ‘lt‘s been about three years since we ﬁrst started,‘ says Docherty. ‘Jurassic Park: 23 million years in the making; mr don and mr george: three years.‘ in the meantime there has been the fourth series of Absolutely, writing for Red Dwarf, The Comic Strip and Spitting Image and, for Moray, even
a straight appearance on Taggart.
The wait has been worth it if the pilot episode ‘You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide Your Legs.‘ is an indication of the anarchic chaos to come in the six- part series. Even though the establishing ﬁve minutes is slightly wobbly. the episode soon develops into the son of Fawlty Towers-mayhem that will be repeated verbatim in pubs and sixth-form common rooms alike. There is a liberal sprinkling of references to comedians from Tommy Cooper to Laurel and
‘So they’re In surreal situations, but it’s all about ambition, lust, pride and arrogance or whatever.’
Hardy, stupid haircuts, gadgets and guest appearances, including two old duffers talking fondly of the ‘great days of The Quo‘.
‘Having real actors was great,’ says Docherty, ‘The police squad bit works brilliantly because Leslie Nielsen did all those crappy police things. in a sketch show we could have done the Status Quo bit ourselves as Major Bufton Tufton or whoever, but having Jack Hedley from Colditz and John Griller just lent it authority. It’s so much funnier having a
genuine 68-year-old who looks like a major talking about the great days of The Quo.’
mr don and mr george hits screens across the country on Channel 4 on Thursday nights at 10.35pm front Thurs 25.
so The List 20—26 August 1993