Situation desperate

ITV is fed up with losing out to the BBC in the sitcom ratings war. Now it’s fighting back with a season of new comedy pilots, reports Eddie Gibb.

The BBC has long been regarded as better than lTV at producing sitcoms which are actually. cue studio laughter. funny. As ifto emphasise the point. the Beeb is currently rerunning Faulty lowers. The series is seen as such a classic that Radio limes broke its no-repeats rule to put the Torquay hotel staff on the cover twenty years after they first bungled onto

our screens. A concussed Basil Fawlty goosestepping " 4;! if" 7 1' 1' , Mg ' I through a dining room filled with Germans showed : " -- " 4-1 - "" ' the sitcom was every bit as good as we remembered. c°m°dy “ms: "'e Philade'pma “ms 59"“ me jokes min" CV3“ if ll WOUId "CW" N "W19 now in our P03“ ‘The perception of comedy on [TV has been that it’s 1 Cheers to Seinfeld. which all benefit from a MaaSlI’iChl Cllmillc- not as good as the BBC.‘ he says. ‘I don't agree with collective writing effort. Based on the idea that a

In contra-“l. lTV is currently SCFCCnin‘c’ 11 "CW Show that but it‘s something we want to address and we woman can be simultaneously a wife. mother. sister. called Searching about a therapeutic centre for barmy hope to do it with the help of some of these pilots, grandmother and ‘right royal pain in the arse'. WOmL‘n “Wine” by lhc longtime queen “Situation Comedy is one of those things where you're always 9 Barbara draws on that basic comedy currency of comedy calla Lanc- In her fir“ series for the looking for the next big thing. It‘s difficult to say » family conflict. inchCNde “CIWOTk. WhiCh COiNCldel)’ Stars the “get me an Absolutely Fabulous".' Another show in the series is Sometime. Never. Fawn)’ TOWCFS‘ TCSide dragon Prunella ScalCS. The season of Comedy Firs/s (five sitcoms and a ' which attempts to cash in on the 9()-sccond Lane‘s shaky touch seems to have completely popularity of Philadelphia Cheese girls Anne Bryson deserted her for this extremely creaky comedy. ‘comedy is one of those things where - and Sarah Crowe by putting them into a perpetual fifiipliifil'li223321.23"de (“’“my‘ m“ m V°""e 3"“05‘ '°°"‘"9 '°' "'9 "ext “‘9 ililfirlfifl‘li’,{$1355511'22}?llll‘lfi‘lfil‘fiifi'lic

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Martin Booth. deputy controller of network tth' It s dlfilcu" to say QBt me an jokes thickly enough for 25 minutes of laughs. On entertainment. agrees that lTV has a sitcom problem. Absalmely Fabumus”: the evidence ofthis pilot. the only one finished as but like the present Government prefers to describe it The List went to press. lTV will has some way to go as one of presentation rather than content. in other sketch show called Now What?) begins with in its search fora credible sitcom. Still. it’ll be worth words. he accepts that lTV sitcoms are regarded as Barbara. :1 Carlton production which is described as watching Sometime. Never to see if the Philly poor relations to the BBC‘s output. but denies they an attempt to replicate the American style of team advertisement is screened during the commercial are. However. negative audience perception is a writing. While British sitcom has struggled to break break, at which you can turn to your couch problem. so in an attempt to show that the network is out of the suburban naffness and tacky sets companion and say. hand on heart. the ads are better a situation comedy contender. Booth has personified by Paul Nicholas. Channel 4 has than the programmes these days. commissioned a series of pilots to encourage fresh continually highlighted the quality gap by showing C()IIl(’(/_\' Firs/s begins on Monday 10 July on ideas. the cream of American sitcoms from Roseanne to Scottish.

While Carrie Fisher’s novel Postcards from the Edge, presented a thinly

notched up eight marriages between ' as Iitelines are all on display. . them. Fisher herself has been through I it’s largely the familiar LA freakshow

' .. Reynolds who were unofficially sick, according to this expert opinion. HOLLYWOOD i ‘America’s favourite couple’ circa ; Singles parties, marriage/divorce as . ; 1955. 3 career moves, the sticky subject of LA l Forty years on, that apple pie ; mail-order sperm from ‘California’s I i existence has long since crumbled , finest brains’, the painfully clinical i 3 away, and Fisher’s parents have practice of adoption-at-birth and pets I

fictionalised account of her life as ? the obligatory cycle of early fame, - a parade of power dressers speaking

victim/product of Tinseltown society, ' drugs burnout, divorce and rehab. As ? self-help therapy language, whose

Barrie (in Hollywood turns its sights on she puts it: ‘fiow Princess leia is a Z vulgar affluence precludes our

that society itself. . single parent with a dysfunctional 7 sympathy. The thing is, it’s too familiar In the first film of a two-part series, 3 family of her own.’ Still, she looks well f a story and, while it’s fun to gawp, one

‘lite and love in La-La Land’, Fisher 3 on it and clearly feels qualified to can only hope that eventually Fisher is

focuses on relationships, or rather the ' comment, with a gently superior 5 going to lead us to some conclusion.

lack of them, behind the silver screen. « a wryness, on the familiar carnival : (Damien love)

It’s a subject close to the heart of the Carrie on Hollywood: Fisher on the price or spinning off its axis in her home town. ! Carrie on Hollywood starts on

daughter of Eddie Fisher and Debbie fame . And the corpse of Hollywood is pretty l Saturday 7 July on 8801.

The List 30 Jun-l3 Jul 1995 75