Archive for the ‘Comic Strip Presents, The’ Category

The Comic Strip Presents…

May 20, 2009

comic strip presents

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
War 3/1/1983
The Beat Generation 7/1/1983
Bad News Tour 24/1/1983
Summer School 31/1/1983
Five Go Mad On Mescalin 2/11/1983
Dirty Movie 7/1/1984
Susie 14/1/1984
A Fistful Of Traveller’s Cheques 21/1/1984
Gino – Full Story And Pics 28/1/1984
Eddie Monsoon – A Life? 4/2/1984
Slags 11/2/1984
The Bullshitters 3/11/1984
The Supergrass Movie – 1985
Consuela 1/1/1986
Private Enterprise 2/1/1986
The Strike 20/2/1988
More Bad News 27/2/1988
Mr Jolly Lives Next Door 5/3/1988
The Yob 12/3/1988
Didn’t You Kill My Brother 19/3/1988
Funseekers 26/3/1988
South Atlantic Raiders 1/2/1990
South Atlantic Raiders Part 2 8/2/1990
GLC 15/2/1990
Oxford 22/2/1990
Spaghetti Hoops 1/3/1990
Les Dogs 8/3/1990
Red Nose Of Courage 9/3/1992
The Crying Game 5/5/1992
Wild Turkey 24/12/1992
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
Demonella 20/5/1993
Jealousy 27/5/1993
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.

Peter Richardson
Peter Richardson

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:

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