Little Britain

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This article is about the British television series. For the production company based on the television series, see Little Britain Productions. For other uses, see Little Britain (disambiguation).
Little Britain
Little Britain.svg
Little Britain logo
Format Sketch comedy
Created by David Walliams
Matt Lucas
Starring David Walliams
Matt Lucas
Narrated by Tom Baker
Composer(s) David Arnold
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 3
No. of episodes 36 (List of episodes)
Production
Running time 31 minutes
Production company(s) BBC
Broadcast
Original channel UK Series:
BBC Three (Series 1 & 2)
BBC One (Series 3)
Original run 4 December 2003 (2003-12-04) – 31 December 2006 (2006-12-31)
Chronology
Followed by Little Britain USA
Related shows Rock Profile
Come Fly with Me
Little Britain USA
External links
Website

Little Britain is a British character-based comedy sketch show which was first broadcast on BBC radio and then turned into a television show. It was written and performed by comic duo David Walliams and Matt Lucas. The show's title is an amalgamation of the terms 'Little England' and 'Great Britain', and is also the name of a Victorian neighbourhood and modern street in London.[1]

The show comprised sketches involving exaggerated parodies of British people from all walks of life in various situations familiar to the British people. These sketches were presented to the viewer together with narration in a manner which suggested that the programme is a guide—aimed at non-British people—to the ways of life of various classes of British society. Despite the narrator's description of great British institutions, the comedy is derived from the British audience's self-deprecating understanding of either themselves or people known to them.

An American continuation of the show, Little Britain USA, was broadcast in 2008. This series was shown on HBO in the US, HBO Canada in Canada, BBC One in the UK and on Network Ten in Australia, as well as various other television channels across the world.

History[edit]

Radio show[edit]

Little Britain initially appeared as a radio show on BBC Radio 4, produced by Edward Flinn.

Radio 4 began a rerun of all nine episodes in February 2004 (which were slightly edited for content to suit the 6:30pm timeslot). Unusually, this overlapped with a rerun on digital radio channel BBC 7 of the first five, which began in mid-March. In June–July 2004, BBC 7 broadcast the remaining four.

Ronnie Corbett commented that the characters as portrayed in the radio series were "well drawn-out".

Television series[edit]

Lou Todd and Andy Pipkin, recurring characters in the series

Like several other BBC comedy shows (such as Dead Ringers and The Mighty Boosh), Little Britain made the transition from radio to television. All the episodes for the series were filmed at Pinewood Studios. Much of the TV material was adapted from the radio version, but with more emphasis on recurring characters and catchphrases.

Series One, 2003

The first TV series was one of the new programmes in the launch line-up for digital channel BBC Three, the replacement for BBC Choice, which launched in February 2003. As a result of its success, the first series was repeated on the more widely available BBC Two. Although reactions were mixed, many critics were enthusiastic, and the show was commissioned for another run.

Series Two, 2004

The second series, featuring several new characters, began on BBC Three on 19 October 2004. Its continued popularity meant the repeats moved to BBC One, starting on 3 December 2004. The episodes were edited for their BBC One run, to cut out any material that may be too offensive for the more mainstream BBC One audience.

Series Three, 2005

A third series began on 17 November 2005, for the first time on BBC One and not BBC Three, and ended six weeks later. After its transmission, it was unclear whether there would be another, as many sketches were given dramatic twists and "wrapped up" — (see individual character articles). Lucas and Walliams were reportedly in talks for a fourth series with the BBC. Furthermore, they admitted in an interview they preferred to "kill off" certain characters in order to make way for new ones.

Little, Little Britain, 2005

In 2005, to raise money for Comic Relief, Walliams and Lucas made a special edition of the show, dubbed Little, Little Britain. The episode included a variety of sketches with celebrities including George Michael, Robbie Williams and Sir Elton John. This was released on a limited edition DVD and was released in the United States as Little, Little Britain on the region 1 version of the Little Britain: Season 2 DVD.

Little Britain Abroad, 2006

In 2006, a two-part Christmas special was released, in which characters from the show were depicted as visiting other countries.

Little Britain Live[edit]

Main article: Little Britain Live

As a success of the television series, Lucas and Walliams created a travelling stage show based upon their series.

Comic Relief Does Little Britain Live, 2007

A special live version, featuring appearances from celebrities such as Russell Brand and Dennis Waterman was filmed in 2006 and appeared on 2007's Comic Relief show.

Little Britain USA[edit]

Main article: Little Britain USA

In 2007, Matt Lucas and David Walliams announced that there would be no more of the British Little Britain, but they taped an American continuation of the show entitled Little Britain USA, which featured both returning characters from the British series as well as new American characters.[2] According to David Walliams, the new show is "effectively Little Britain season four".[3] The show debuted on HBO at 10:30 pm EST Sunday 28 September 2008, then the following week on BBC One in Britain. It also started airing on The Comedy Network in Canada in January 2010.

Cast and characters[edit]

As a sketch show, Little Britain features many characters with varying degrees of costume and makeup. Matt Lucas and David Walliams play all the main characters in the show. Tom Baker narrates and Paul Putner, Steve Furst, Sally Rogers, David Foxxe, Samantha Power, Yuki Kushida, and Stirling Gallacher regularly appear as several different characters.

Other regular cast include: Anthony Head as the Prime Minister, Ruth Jones as Myfanwy, Charu Bala Chokshi as Meera, and Joann Condon as Fat Pat.

Broadcast[edit]

A two-part Christmas special, Little Britain Abroad, was broadcast in December 2006. This makes a total of 25 episodes to date. There has also been the Little Britain Live show.

International broadcast[edit]

Country / Region Network(s) Aired Notes Sources
United Kingdom United Kingdom Original channel(s):
BBC Three
BBC One
Repeats:
Dave
Gold
Watch
4 December 2003 – present
7 May 2009 – present
17 November 2005 – 30 December 2006
[4][5]
United States United States BBC America
Argentina Argentina I-Sat
Canada Canada BBC Canada 3 March 2005 – present Little Britain airs Fridays at 8 & 8:30 PM on BBC Canada. [6][7]
Bermuda Bermuda BBC America BBC America can be accessed in Bermuda
Australia Australia UKTV Little Britain airs Mondays at 10:35 PM on UKTV. [8]
Germany Germany Comedy Central Germany 2008–present
India India Comedy Central India 2012
New Zealand New Zealand UKTV Little Britain airs Sundays at 3:45 PM and Fridays at 8:30 PM on UKTV. [8]
Russia Russia MTV Russia
21+
Весёлое ТВ
Настоящее смешное телевидение
Комедия ТВ
September–October 2009
2012
As "Литтл Британ"
As "Маленькая Британия"
[9]
[10]
Spain Spain 3XL | Canal+ 1 Little Britain airs from Monday to Tuesday at 12:05 AM on 3XL. [11]
France France Canal Plus Little Britain was seen on Canal Plus every week.
Netherlands Netherlands VPRO Little Britain airs on VPRO and on Humor TV 2007-present]. [12]
Belgium Belgium Canvas Little Britain was seen on Canvas every week. [13]
Portugal Portugal RTP 2 Little Britain airs every Sunday night.
Serbia Serbia IQS Life 2012 Little Britain is seen on IQS.Life on weekdays.

Criticism[edit]

The series, and in particular its second and third season, have been criticised for their perceived treatment of minority groups. For example, Fergus Sheppard wrote in The Scotsman:

"The latest series of the hit BBC comedy Little Britain may be hauling in record viewing figures, but it has also sparked a previously unthinkable chorus of criticism, with claims that the show has lost its way, trading early ingenuity for swelling amounts of toilet humour in the search for cheap laughs, and becoming increasingly offensive."[14]

Writer Owen Jones states in his book Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class that the way the character Vicky Pollard is portrayed in the series is an example of the current socially accepted marginalization and stereotyping of the working class.

The programme has become increasingly popular with children, despite being shown after the watershed. There has also been criticism from teachers that the programme leads to copycat behaviour in the playground.[15]

Spin-offs and merchandise[edit]

"I'm Gay", the song that Matt Lucas's character Daffyd Thomas sang at the end of the Little Britain Live shows, was released as a CD single in Australia in March 2007.

Matt Lucas and Peter Kay, in the guise of their characters Andy Pipkin and Brian Potter, re-recorded the song "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" with its creators, The Proclaimers. This version was released as a charity single for Comic Relief on 19 March 2007.

Little Britain: The Video Game was released in February 2007. It featured a variety of characters in mini-games and received very negative reviews.[16]

The Russian series Nasha Russia is inspired by Little Britain.[17][18]

In 2010, characters returned for Nationwide Building Society adverts, including Lou and Andy, Vicky Pollard, Eddie (Emily) Howard and Bubbles DeVere.[19]

Little Britain Productions[edit]

Little Britain Productions is a production company set up by Lucas and Walliams, to produce their future television projects, for example, Come Fly with Me, Rock Profile and The One....

References[edit]

  1. ^ "'Victorian London - Districts - Little Britain'". Victorianlondon.org. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  2. ^ TheSun.co.uk: Matt Lucas: I would like kids URL accessed 24 June 2008
  3. ^ "Little Britain USA". littlebritainfans.com. 2008-09-28. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  4. ^ "BBC One - Little Britain". Bbc.co.uk. 2012-07-28. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  5. ^ "Little Britain". Uktv.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  6. ^ "Little Britain comes to BBC Canada". Channel Canada. 2005-02-16. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  7. ^ "Schedule". BBC Canada. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  8. ^ a b Series 1. "Little Britain - UKTV Australia". Uktv.com.au. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  9. ^ "15 Октября 2009 г., MTV - Программа телевидения - Информация". CHEL74.RU. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  10. ^ "Телеканал «21+» - общероссийский круглосуточный развлекательный телеканал". 21ch.ru. 2012-06-26. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  11. ^ "Little Britain - Canal 3XL". 3xl.cat. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  12. ^ "Nieuwe sketches van absurdistisch Little Britain". Zappen. 2006-04-13. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  13. ^ "humor | Canvas". Canvas.be. 2012-06-25. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  14. ^ Little Britain's in trouble... no buts about it URL accessed 3 July 2006
  15. ^ BBC News: Head calls for Little Britain ban URL accessed 12 December 2006
  16. ^ http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/little-britain-the-video-game-review
  17. ^ Walker, Shaun (28 July 2008). "Russia buys the right to have a laugh at Moscow's David Brentski". The Independent (London). Retrieved 11 May 2010. 
  18. ^ "Moscow News - Columnists - ‘Nasha Russia’ must go on". Mnweekly.ru. 2009-02-12. Archived from the original on 2009-02-12. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  19. ^ http://www.theguardian.com/media/2010/may/14/little-britain-nationwide-ads

Further reading[edit]

  • Julia Snell (2006). "Schema theory and the humour of Little Britain". English Today (Cambridge University Press) 22: 59–64. doi:10.1017/S0266078406001118. 
  • Carol Szabolcs (2008). Little Britain in America. Minorities under subverted scrutiny. Grin Verlag. ISBN 978-3-640-30153-9.

External links[edit]