I live somewhere. Outside this very house is somewhere. No, honest, I can see it out my window. Somewhere. An actual place.
So why doesn’t comedy?
Remember that Executive Comedy Editor for Commissioning Editor Executives? Well, at a comedy briefing someone from the audience asked why there were so few comedies with regional accents. He replied that….Actually, fuck that, I was going to skirt round it…but fuck it.
Here’s what actually happened. Last year, Scotland produced three opt-out comedy shows. Opt-out is when a BBC region broadcasts a different show from the rest of the country. It’s why every non-Welsh rugby fan scours the multi-channels looking for BBC Wales, where they can see Scrum V. So anyway, there’re these 3 comedies that Scottish punters got to see that the rest of Britain, iPlayer aside, did not. On the whole, the audience received these comedies kindly. Some loved them, some hated them, but they were successful enough to get second serieseses. So far, so fuck.
Well, at this briefing, a brave soul asked why network BBC didn’t broadcast these shows? Any of them? Even as a cheapo repeat? On any network BBC channel?
Here’s the pisser…Apparently, according to the visiting TV Tsar, there are people “in the south” who are turned off by the accents. They just won’t watch. They find it hard to understand. He tittered that Fawlty Towers would never have been made if everyone in it spoke like Manuel.
My, my, how fucking droll!
Ignoring the offensive parallel between regional accents and a comedy foreigner who can barely speak English, this scaredy cat spectacularly missed the point.
Actually placing a comedy somewhere adds flavour. The accents, the references, the attitude, the backdrop, the swearing, the history, the slaggings, the stereotypes…All these things make this somewhere, although different, an actual somewhere like my very own somewhere. Which makes me love it a little more.
Obviously you can have comedy set nowhere. It’s not obligatory. Who the fuck am I to say that every comedy should be set somewhere? But the only people who are against it, actively frightened of something from somewhere seem to be those at the top. Isn’t that a rusty pipe to the teeth?
Recently, off the top of my head and avoiding sketch shows, we’ve had…
- Big Top
- Coming of Age
- Gavin and Stacey
- Getting On
- How Not To Live Your Life
- Krod Mandoon
- Last of The Summer Wine
- Lead Balloon
- Moving Wallpaper
- My Family
- No Heroics
- Not Going Out
- Peep Show
- Plus One
- Rab C Nesbitt
- Reggie Perrin
- The Gemma Factor
- The Inbetweeners
- The IT Crowd
- The Life of Riley
- The Old Guys
- The Thick of It
- Two Pints of Lager
There are some works of genius on that list. There are some shows that boast some lovely accents on that list. And, yes, there are a couple on that list that really do feel like they exist somewhere. But slap me sideways and call me Barbara if there aren’t too many nowheres on that list.
Or maybe I’m just getting old and miss hearing about Partridge’s Norwich. And Trotter’s Peckham, And Arkwright’s Balby. And Fawlty’s Torquay. And the Likey Lad’s Newcastle. I even miss the imaginary Walmington on Sea, Slade Prison, Craggy Island and Slough.
Naah fuck that. I want a new Geordie, Irish, Scouse, Yorkshire, Brummy, Welsh, Cornish, Bristolian, Cockney, Essex boy, Lancashire comedy. Any will do please.
UPDATE – Thanks to the media mastermind that is @gusman, I found out about this piece on yesterday’s BBC News website. It would seem that Jana Bennett, BBC director of television is linked to me telepathically.