Saturday, 18 August 2007

French & Saunders: a 100 year celebration

50 is the new 40. It has to be. So many artists seem to be using the half century as a landmark to their – by this time - huge body of work, Marc Almond being a current case in point. And now that French & Saunders are nearing the big 5-0 they aren’t disappointing. On September 7th, the BBC will be airing a new series, sort of. Called A Bucket O’ French & Saunders, it’s a greatest hits-type package of all their sketches stitched together with brand new ‘white room’ inserts and early next year they’ll be touring the UK. But after that, apparently, that will be it as far as being a TV duo.

I can’t really remember when F&S weren’t on TV they’ve been around for that long. 25 years ago when they co-starred in the Comic Strip Presents series for Channel 4 they were, for me, easily the most interesting and funny - Famous Five Go Mad in Dorset: "Oh, Timmy (the dog) You're so licky!". A sitcom for the BBC followed called Happy Families which was under-rated and under-viewed. That would have been the end of their careers these days, but the BBC had a policy of nurturing talent; allowing their stars to bomb at first. It’s a policy that paid dividends as the brilliant French & Saunders TV series proved.

Like all sketch shows, it was hit and miss (especially the last series 6 in 2005), but unlike other sketch shows the majority of it was definitely hit. Dawn and Jennifer’s relationship isn’t that complicated: they like each other, they never argue, they respect each other and think each other funny. And that, they surmise, is why it ‘works’.

The innovative influences of big budgets, locations, whole body prosthetics and the deadpan delivery can be seen in Little Britain and Catherine Tate which is ironic as these shows are part of the reason French & Saunders are hanging up their duo mantle. The big budgets have gone (on Little Britain probably) and that, Saunders says, is why they have to pack it in: “I’d like to work with Dawn, but it would have to be a different way on television.”

Go here for the lengthy Times Online interview from last week.

Anyhoo, why wait for the show in September when YouTube is chockerblock with F&S…

The Making of Titanic
here for part one and here for part two

The whole of The Lord of the Rings spoof here

The reason why Madonna has consistently refused to appear on the show here and here

Little Britain
and your body costumes, eat your heart out here

The wonderous skit on the 90s BBC costume drama House of Elliott here

"Take the pain, bitch!": Kate Moss gets it here

And below are some embedded YouTube clips. These are some of my favourites, but there are tons more I’ve missed!


Adem IAR said...

I'm pretty sad they're ending it all. After so many years, they still make me laugh my ARSE off.

V said...

Fantastic post on Jen. and Dawn! I really love these two women and they've kept me laughing for a long time. I've got all their releases on DVD and often watch them. Always a laugh. Their movie parodies are best. Surprising guest appearances like Alison Moyet singing Christmas carols are golden. I wish they wouldn't stop. Little Britain though funny are not nearly as so from F&S. Not to mention the best thing to ever come out of F&S is the monumental AbFab!

Phil said...

I don't think they'll ever not work together again, but it'll have to be better than Jam and Jerusalem!