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How The Young Ones Changed Comedy

  • Documentary

Summary

Documentary celebrating the legacy of one of the most notorious British sitcoms of all time, The Young Ones. The programme features archive footage with revelations from many of the stars who were involved, including Nigel Planer, Alexei Sayle and John Lloyd, and comedians David Baddiel, Charlie Higson and Clive Anderson discuss how the show influenced their own work and the British comedy scene.

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Review

It seems a lifetime ago now, but for just 12 episodes from 1982—4, students Rick, Vyvyan, Neil and Mike ripped up the traditional sitcom (literally at one point) and gave “young ones” a show just for them. The kind that filled common rooms and playgrounds with quotes about lentils and bottom burps and “modal cathartic slip weights”. Tom and Jerry-style cartoon violence jostled with pop interludes and surreal vignettes (“We wasted a whole afternoon getting a chip and a carrot to skate on a plate”).

Leads and bit-parters look back on the fighting and farting, and there are wonderful clips (plus a great reading of the pilot script) to remind us of the comedy typhoon that was Rik Mayall, who died way too young in 2014.

Not all the gags and lines have aged well, but the rabid energy is well bottled – and there are fabulous outtakes and did-you-knows about the “flash frames” (remember them: the jumping frog, the dripping tap..?), the casting of Mike (Tim Spall came close after giving a brilliant audition) and the so-called fifth housemate. As producer Paul Jackson reflects, “I loved the ability of the visual effects guys. I loved the bravery of the actors. It was magic to be there.”

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