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Frost on Sketch Shows

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“You can get away with a low percentage of excellence and still be thought of as excellent,” says Richard Curtis of the TV sketch show. As an example, he cites Not the Nine O’Clock News, a typical episode of which he remembers as being “17 dodgy minutes and maybe ten good minutes”.

It’s a nice shot of acid in what is otherwise a largely reverential look at the genre that takes in all the old favourites — the “class sketch” from The Frost Report, “Fork Handles” from The Two Ronnies, even Gerald the gorilla from the aforementioned NTNOCN. It’s only really in the final 15 minutes that we get to explore the issue of why there’s been a dearth of such comedies since the end of Little Britain and The Catherine Tate Show. It seems it’s all down to expense and an audience’s preference for stand-up over snappy, three-minute vignettes.


Another chance to see David Frost charting the history of comedy sketch shows over the past 50 years. He hears from performers Ronnie Corbett, Stephen Fry and Michael Palin about the highs and lows of their own experiences, and asks Michael Grade and Richard Curtis whether the format can continue to flourish amid the popularity of stand-up and sitcom shows.

Cast & Crew

Presenter David Frost
Contributor Ronnie Corbett
Contributor Stephen Fry
Contributor Michael Palin
Contributor Michael Grade
Contributor Richard Curtis
Executive Producer Trevor Poots
Producer Andrew Fettis
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