I’ll be honest, I never really enjoyed episode four of Bottom all that much. Apocalypse feels a little too expansive in scope and has some dodgy character attitudes in it, but it does have its moments to be sure.
In the opening scene, where they set up the flat to bilk Richie’s Auntie Olga (not Mabel, who owns the flat), I enjoyed the idea that they hid all the food in the cistern, that the dead fish is called Elvis, and that Richie mentions the Poll Tax.
It’s also interesting that Richie seems to have grown up with money – his aunt having servants and all. There’s a story in his downfall that’s never been told. Maybe it involved an oven ready chicken.
At the fairground, we meet Mark Arden, doing a good turn as a menacing stall owner. On my DVD Richie’s racist G-word epithet has been re-dubbed as Yobbos, which is odd considering the chapter title on the menu still uses that G word. This was a change made for the broadcast repeat.
There’s a marvellous shot as Eddie takes his double or quits aim. I love how moments like this find their way into studio sitcoms.
I also love the set design on the fairground itself.
Ah man, look, she’s called Brenda The Ballgazer. Never noticed that before. Nice.
Liz Smith is excellent as Brenda, and Richie’s penchant for newsreaders pops up again, this time with Julia Somerville.
In the hospital (a set that to my mind resembles the hospital set in Filthy, Rich & Catflap, but I think I’m wrong), we meet a nurse played by Helen Lederer. Is Helen one of the few actors to play different roles in the show?
There’s a nice bit of set dressing here. I’ve spent enough of my life in hospitals to recognise these hand-written passive aggressive notes stuck up everywhere. You don’t often, if ever, see them on TV sets.
As Eddie guards all the food back at the flat, there’s the first breaking of the fourth wall in the series.
It’s worth taking a moment to explore Eddie’s logic, wherein he mixes up Sean Connery with Michael Caine. He seems to be conflating the film Zulu with the film The Man Who Would Be King. It’s a wonderful little delve into his mind, and gives us the still brilliant:
Richie likes resorting to prayer, for a man who seems otherwise completely Godless.
I BLOODY KNEW IT.
Then the piano falls through the ceiling. Apparently the bed fall in The Young Ones was done live (Lenny Henry remembers seeing it, and the reaction it got). I wonder if they did the same here. It’s slightly diluted by having a cut, so maybe something went awry.
And before we get to Eddie being kicked in the knackers, let’s have a look at the pile of board games in the corner of Richie’s room.
He’s definitely got Monopoly and Cluedo, in 80s packaging, but I can’t see what else.