The Comic Strip is a loose-knit group of British comedians, known for their television series The Comic Strip Presents…. The core members are Peter Richardson, Adrian Edmondson, Dawn French, Rik Mayall, Nigel Planer and Jennifer Saunders, with frequent appearances by Keith Allen, Robbie Coltrane, Daniel Peacock and Alexei Sayle.
Originally broadcast on Channel 4, the episodes were
Title: Broadcast Date:
|Five Go Mad In Dorset||2/11/1982|
|The Beat Generation||7/1/1983|
|Bad News Tour||24/1/1983|
|Five Go Mad On Mescalin||2/11/1983|
|A Fistful Of Traveller’s Cheques||21/1/1984|
|Gino – Full Story And Pics||28/1/1984|
|Eddie Monsoon – A Life?||4/2/1984|
|The Supergrass||Movie – 1985|
|More Bad News||27/2/1988|
|Mr Jolly Lives Next Door||5/3/1988|
|Didn’t You Kill My Brother||19/3/1988|
|South Atlantic Raiders||1/2/1990|
|South Atlantic Raiders Part 2||8/2/1990|
|Red Nose Of Courage||9/3/1992|
|The Crying Game||5/5/1992|
|Detectives On The Edge Of A Nervous Breakdown||22/4/1993|
|Space Virgins From The Planet Sex||29/4/1993|
|Queen Of The Wild Frontier||6/5/1993|
|Gregory – Diary Of A Nutcase||13/5/1993|
|Four Men In A Car||12/4/1998|
|Four Men In A Plane||4/1/2000|
The very first Comic Strip Presents… was Five Go Mad in Dorset, which was a parody of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books. Next was War, followed by The Beat Generation, then the classic heavy metal parody Bad News Tour and then the brilliantly observed Summer School. The first three films were written by Peter Richardson and Pete Richens. Bad News Tour was by Adrian Edmondson and Summer School was written by Dawn French.
The second series started with Five Go Mad on Mescalin. Second was Dirty Movie, a brilliant visual comedy from Adrian Edmondson and Rik Mayall which works well with Rod Melvin’s organ accompaniment. Susie is by Richardson and Richens. A Fistful of Travellers’ Cheques has Rik Mayall collaborating with the core writing team to create a perfect pastiche of the Leone ‘Dollars’ trilogy. Gino is a brilliant film with Keith Allen in the lead. Edmondson’s Eddie Monsoon and Jennifer Saunders Slags close the second series.
The Bullshitters is a parody of the seventies TV detectives The Professionals. Other stand alone episodes at this time were Edmondson’s Private Enterprise and Consuela, a French and Saunders parody of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca.
The next film was The Sugergrass, which was Peter Richardson’s directing debut. Then came The Strike, which was the first of many films to parody Hollywood through films within films of very English political films, in this case a sexing up of the miners’ strike. Next was More Bad News which continues in a similar vein as its predecessor.
Edmondson’s and Mayall’s Mr Jolly Lives Next Door is a prototype of the duo’s sitcom Bottom. Next is Keith Allen’s The Yob which mocks Allen’s own football yob persona and parodies David Cronenberg’s The Fly. This is followed by Alexei Sayle’s Didn’t you Kill my Brother? and Nigel Planer’s Funseekers.
The fourth series saw a move to the BBC and a return to the half hour format. The full ensemble appeared in the two-part South Atlantic Raiders. GLC was a sequel to The Strike with Robbie Coltrane playing Charles Bronson as Ken Livingstone in a story of the abolition of the Greater London Council. Oxford features special guests Lenny Henry and Leslie Philips. Spaghetti Hoops and Les Dogs were next, with the latter been a surreal piece featuring Kate Bush.
Three specials then came from The Comic Strip Presents stable: The Red Nose of Courage, which parodied British politics, with Adrian Edmondson playing John Major. The Crying Game was another Allen/Richardson collaboration which put some spin on the Paul Gascoigne story. Wild Turkey was a Christmas special.
The fifth series started strongly with Allen and Richardson’s Detectives on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown expanding the premise of The Bullshitters to parody all TV detectives with a few song and dance numbers. Space Virgins from Planet Sex was a b-movie pastiche that blended science fiction and James Bond in a way only the Comic Strip team could pull off. Queen of the Wild Frontier saw Richens and Richardson start the move towards straight films. Gregory was a parody of The Silence of the Lambs, whilst Demonella and Jealousy intimated that The Comic Strip Presents had perhaps run its course.
The original cast re-assembled on Channel Four for Four Man in a Car, the success of which was repeated with Four Men in a Plane.
You can now get The Comic Strip Presents… The Complete Collection on DVD, although the DVD was released before the last Comic Strip Presents… film Sex Actually was produced. Also missing is Eat the Rich and The Pope Must Die. Perhaps they could be included on the next DVD release of The Comic Strip Presents… The Complete Collection.
Despite the temporary misnomer, and although the bonus documentaries offer very little in the way of insight, one thing that very quickly becomes glaringly obvious is Peter Richardson’s vast – yet somehow still under-rated – talent as an actor, writer and director. The Comic Strip Presents… is clearly his creation. Finally, Julian Temple’s film of the initial stage revue does at least fill in some of the gaps. All in all, this is a nearly-complete, brilliant box set of a truly innovative and very funny TV show.
Here’s a clip of The Comic Strip Presents… team in action: