Would You Like To Swing On a Star?

Here’s the latest episode of setisoppO, the podcast where we work out the opposite of things that don’t have a natural opposite. This week, we discuss the opposite of placemats, saying thank you, and health and safety.

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At one point, for no given reason, I break out into song (sorry). It’s because I was remembering a morning show I used to watch on ITV quite a bit, called Out Of This World. When I tried to describe this show to someone recently, he thought I was definitely describing Sabrina The Teenage Witch, but it was this.

Scene Breakdown: Darling Fascist Bully Boy

The more I think about the scene in The Young Ones where they write a letter to the bank manager, the more I think it’s one of the best scenes in the whole series. Let’s have a look at it.

So what makes it so good?

It barely advances the plot, but it does do a lot of exposition work, expertly hidden. Everything a character says is funny, but more importantly, those lines come from that character’s perspective. None of those jokes would fit in other people’s mouths. That’s good writing, and that writing informs even better performances. There’s conflict, but not the bickering kind, and it reaches a satisfying punchline.

I wonder if it might be a good exercise when developing your own characters to re-create this scene with them, and see how the letter ends up. Could be fun, and enlightening.

In Bed With Medinner

Time was, you could turn on the telly, late at night, riddled with the flush of insomnia, and find some great TV to watch. Occasionally, this was watching the QVC presenters at 2am struggle to make an Akai Tape Player work, and resorting to raving about how it had a rewind button (and no fast forward one). And then, sometimes, you’d stumble across an episode of In Bed With Medinner.

With its opening titles a parody of The Prisoner, this show featured the wonderful Bob Mills, and aired on ITV from 1992 to 1997, though I suspect I found it mostly on The Paramount Comedy Channel.

Around about the same time, you could find Bob on daytime TV, hosting Win, Lose Or Draw.

And he also featured on the late night soccer archive show There’s Only One Brian Moore.

Langley Bottom

Another random dive into The Radio Times Guide To TV Comedy throws up the Bernard Cribbins sitcom Langley Bottom. Writer by Barry Cryer and John Junkin, it aired on ITV in July and August of 1986.

The title of this, reminded me of this, for obvious reasons.

A Ghost Of A Chance

A Ghost Of A Chance

 

Second Draft

Lucy always wondered what happened after death. For the most part, she thought it would all end, that her body would just turn to soil, and that would be that. In her more vulnerable times though, she wondered about an afterlife, about going somewhere better (or worse), and about the idea of a soul.

This wasn’t what she’d been expecting at all.

Her death had been a surprise, and more than a little stupid.

She’d refused to go hang gliding on the basis that it was ridiculously dangerous, and had instead watched her friend doing it from atop the hill. When her friend turned and swooped out of an up-draft, Lucy had been looking at a squirrel in a nearby tree. She didn’t see her friend lose control, and the last thing she knew about it was a vague thump in the back of her head.

That’s when she’d woken up here, been told what had happened, and sat down at a strange looking console. She was in cubicle, and when she stood up to look, the cubicle was one of thousands in a vast warehouse type space.

She sat back down again, not wanting to contemplate how insignificant this made her feel.

On the console were three buttons. One said OK, one was a thumbs down, and the other was a thumbs up. She shrugged, and pressed the OK button.

A short video began playing, explaining what it was she had to do.

So she did it.

Watching her whole life play back in real time was an odd thing indeed. And being asked to vote on each individual moment was even more odd, though it was rather cathartic. Somehow, watching her whole life only seemed to take an hour or two, and when she was finished, she was asked to press OK to accept the changes.

So she pressed OK.

And then life began again.

Only this time, some of the stuff that had happened before didn’t happen again.

She didn’t know it until she’d been through it all though, and found herself back at the console. It all came back to her. Over and over this went, until on about the seventeenth draft, she wasn’t pressing the thumbs down button anymore.

She got to live her life one last time.