What would Little Britain look like if it came out in 2018? David Walliams has admitted he would approach the sketch comedy show differently – because “it’s a different time now”.
The talent show host and children’s author shot to fame with Little Britain in the mid naughties, creating larger-than-life characters alongside his comedy partner Matt Lucas. Together they introduced us to lovely Lou and wheelchair-user Andy, the obnoxious Vicky Pollard, and “the only gay in the village” Daffyd.
But Little Britain and the duo’s next project Come Fly with Me have attracted criticism for the way they portrayed people with disabilities, trans people, people of colour, and the working class. Lucas previously called the show “a more cruel kind of comedy than I’d do now.”
“You’d definitely do it differently,” Walliams agrees. “Because it’s a different time now.”
He tells Radio Times magazine: “You’d make any comedy differently. We started working on Little Britain nearly 20 years ago, because it was on radio first.
“It’s hard to say specifically how it would be different. There’s all kinds of tolerances that change. People understand people’s predicaments more now. Maybe it’s, ‘We see this differently, we’ve got more information,’ and it would be a different type of joke.”
But, he adds, “I wouldn’t rule out anything because I basically think you have to be able to make jokes about everything, everyone. Otherwise there is no point having comedy.”
Did Walliams and Lucas think about the offence they could cause while they were making Little Britain?
“Yes, of course we did, we’re not stupid,” Walliams says. “But then you’ve got to understand that comedy for me is celebrating things. There were gay guys at Pride dressed as Daffyd. We went to a hospice for children with disabilities in Wales and the kids in wheelchairs wanted to be like Andy with me as Lou, their carer.”
He adds: “There’s an assumption that someone on the ‘receiving end’ of the joke has no sense of humour about it. But there’s nothing more funny than being sent up by your friends.”
Walliams also reveals that, along with Lucas, he has also apologised to Gary Barlow after the pair mocked him (and Take That) in their 1999 sketch show Rock Profile.
“I actually apologised to Gary Barlow as well,” Walliams says. “We were doing this little show tucked away on a cable channel and we never thought that we’d actually meet these people.”
Read the full interview in Radio Times magazine, out now