Fast talking

This month award-winning comedy series The Fast Show screeches back onto our screens. PAUL WHITEHOUSE and CHARLIE HIGSON are the men

behind the mirth. Words: Scott Montgomery

SINCE [TS 1994 debut, The Fast Show has become one of the country’s most popular TV comedies. Revving up this month for its third series, it certainly lives up to its name, with a dazzling array of characters assaulting the viewer in a comedic commando raid, complete with rapid-fire gags and catchphrases.

The show is the brainchild of Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Higson, who have written and performed with Harry Enfield as far back as his Stavros/Loadsamoney days in the 80s.

This is Paul Whitehouse’s fifth interview of the day. ‘Yes-l-invent- all-my-characters-on-the-bus.’ he says in mock Dalek fashion. ‘Nah. I’m only joking. Or am l‘?’

Asked how The Fast Show came about, he says: ‘For the second series with Harry, the producer Geoff Perkins had put together this twenty-minute highlight package ofjust little bits from sketches. Charlie and I watched it and thought: “I wonder if you can do a show like that” where you don‘t need a big build-up to the characters. You could have a lot of fast sketches, with the odd one or two that have a bit more meaning, just to break it up.‘

Top performers like Caroline Aherne, John Thomson. Mark Williams. Simon Day and Arabella Weir complete The Fast Shaw‘s line- up. ‘lt’s a team show,’ insists Whitehouse. ‘We wanted to work with them, and they make us

16 TIIELIST 7—20 Nov 1997


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laugh. It was never a case of: “Oh. I must go off and do my show".

lligson agrees: ‘lt‘s our show in the sense that Paul and I write the majority of it and produce it. but we couldn‘t do it without the rest of them. We wanted to have more of a traditional team. rather than it being a star vehicle for Paul.‘

More than 30 new characters will be intro- duced during the show‘s eight-week run. Among them are (‘hip (‘obb the deaf stunt-

'I shouldn't moan when people stop me in the street and point a finger in my face and 90

"Look, it's 'im!" It pisses my wife off though.’ Paul Whitehouse

man, Squeamish Zookeeper. eco-friendly liast End villain Dave Angel and the 'l‘hirteenth Duke of Wybourne. an aristocratic playboy who is always found in compromising loca- tions. such as nurses‘ dormitories. ()ne of Whitehouse's personal favourites is Archie.

‘He‘s a sad old boy in the pub who tries to ingratiate himself with everyone he meets by claiming to have done the same job as them.‘ says Whitehouse. Adopting a rasping voice. he continues: “‘Journalist are ya'.’ ()ldest job in the world. that. I‘ve done it meself. Thirty years. man and boy." I quite like him.‘

Apart from this series. we can look forward

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In the fast lane: Charlie Higson (left) and Paul Whitehouse

to a led and Ralph special (the continuing saga of an upper-class gent who is in love with his gamekeeper). The Fast Show will also team up with Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimcr‘s Shooting Stars for some live appearances in London. If successful. a tour may follow.

Whitehouse is to appear in a llarry [infield (‘hristmas special and hopes to write a film in 1998. lligson starts work on his fifth novel in the new year.

Willi such high profiles. how do they feel about people coming up in the street and spouting catchphrases'.’ ‘lt‘s nicc.‘ says lligson. ‘But I tend not to get recognised. ()ne of the great things about comedy is the way it can become woven into cultural life. That happened right back when we did Loadsamoncy. That was taken up by the public in a huge way. It was used to sum up an entire era.‘

‘I shouldn‘t moan when people stop me in the street and point a finger in my face and go “Look. it’s ‘im!" ' says Whitehouse. ‘lt means the show‘s successful. I can‘t complain and I don't. lt pisses my wife off sometimes though . . .‘

The Fast Show begins on Fri 14 Nov on BBC 2. Harry Enfield is at James Thin, South Bridge. Edinburgh, Fri 14 Nov, 12.30pm. See book events.