Bambi (The Young Ones)

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"Bambi"
The Young Ones episode
Episode no. Series 2
Episode 1
Directed by Paul Jackson
Written by Ben Elton, Rik Mayall and Lise Mayer
Produced by Paul Jackson
Featured music Peter Brewis
Original air date 8 May 1984
Running time 34:52
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Flood"
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"Cash"

"Bambi" was the seventh episode of British sitcom The Young Ones. It was written by Ben Elton, Rik Mayall and Lise Mayer, and directed by Paul Jackson. It was first aired on BBC2 on 8 May 1984, as the premiere episode of the show's second season. Its parody of University Challenge has been widely acclaimed.[citation needed] This scene also showcased the two emerging sides of British comedy at the time: The Young Ones, representative of the new British 'Punk' Alternative Comedy scene, against comedians who represented the new 'Oxbridge' Comedy Scene.

Plot[edit]

The episode begins with Rick telling a story to an uninterested Vyvyan and Mike about a fellow student named Mary, who Vyvyan recalls as having enormous breasts and the nickname "Yellow Pages". Neil runs into the flat and is upset after a complete stranger came up to him and called him smelly. Mike learns the reason Neil smells is that the foursome have not been to a launderette since 23 October 1981. After the escape--and subsequent murder--of one of Vyvyan's deadliest socks, Mike demands that the group go to the launderette "right now". But they must wait until morning as it's now midnight. The group run upstairs to go to sleep then run back down - each now appearing as another's persona (Mike as Neil, Rick as Vyvyan, Neil as Rick, and Vyvyan as Mike).

The washing session goes well until one of the washing machines spits out the quartet's putrid clothing and all other machines deny them access. Vyvyan decides to use a "special blend of psychology and extreme violence" to trick one of the machines: he mentions Felicity Kendal's underwear and then forces their laundry into a lustful machine. Unfortunately, the group realises that none of them has the 50 pence pieces required by the machines. Feeling discouraged, they all agree to remain dirty.

Suddenly Neil remembers the housemates are due to appear on University Challenge that very evening to represent Scumbag College. The group's hectic rush to catch the train (while Motörhead plays "Ace of Spades" in their living room) leads to an unsuccessful cross-country train ride, complete with last-ditch "swotting" from Neil and hissy fits from Rick. Vyvyan claims to have done his homework properly, and tries to show off by having Neil ask him questions from the literature he used, a hefty tome entitled "The Daily Mirror Book of Facts". The answer to both questions Neil asks (The world's record for stuffing marshmallows up one single nostril (604) and World's stickiest bogey) is Toxteth O'Grady, USA. When Rick sarcastically states a fact that Vyvyan is the "world's most stupidest bottom-burp", Neil responds that the Daily Mirror book actually lists Rick's name as the answer.

Vyvyan's self-decapitation, having stuck his head out of the window (contrary to written warnings) as the train went into a tunnel, results in a muddy hitchhike. After two weeks, they finally arrive at the studios, where Vyv tries to smuggle in a pig (which he describes as a ferret named "Bacon Sandwich") as their mascot. They also meet Mike's friend Bambi, the fawn from the Disney classic who is now grown up and has "lost a lot of fur" and is "walking on two legs," as Mike points out. Bambi is the show's host (a play on Bamber Gascoigne's name), but refuses Rick's request to let the quartet win.

The Scumbag College team dances to the University Challenge opening theme music, as Bambi introduces the two squads: the incredibly wealthy Footlights College team from Oxbridge (whose supporters in the audience chant, "Rah! Rah! Rah! We're going to smash the oiks!") and Scumbag College (whose lone supporter is Vyvyan's hamster SPG, who ends up headbutting a Footlights supporter's teddy bear). Once the game begins, Footlights College take a commanding lead, as Neil becomes preoccupied with asking Bambi for permission to go to the toilet. Enraged at not receiving questions they can answer, a furious Vyvyan uses a World War II-era German stick grenade and blows up the Footlights team. Mike's quick answers begin Scumbag College's comeback, much to Vyvyan's chagrin (having told Mike some of the answers earlier on the train), before a trick question from Bambi reveals Rick's actions of swapping the question cards.

The affronted audience heckle the group, and begin to hurl items at them. They are suddenly squashed by a gigantic éclair dropped by a medical doctor (Robbie Coltrane), who has been observing the events of the episode as a culture under a microscope. The Doctor then feeds the éclair to his elephant subject Jumbo, who is supposedly a horribly disfigured man (a reference to Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man).[1]

Cast[edit]

As with all episodes of The Young Ones, the main four characters were student flatmates Mike (Christopher Ryan); Vyvyan (Adrian Edmondson); Rick (Rik Mayall); and Neil (Nigel Planer). The title character was portrayed by Griff Rhys Jones in a parody of real-life University Challenge presenter Bamber Gascoigne, while Jones' comedy partner Mel Smith has a cameo as a security guard. The opposing University Challenge team, from (the fictional) Footlights College, Oxbridge, comprises Lord Monty (Hugh Laurie); Lord Snot (Stephen Fry: who had himself appeared on University Challenge while a Cambridge student); Miss Money-Sterling (Emma Thompson); and Kendal Mintcake (Ben Elton). Alexei Sayle appears briefly as a train driver to deliver his trademark monologue (in this case to a lone Mexican bandido). Robbie Coltrane portrays Dr. Carlisle, who has been observing the episode under a microscope. Tony Robinson portrays Dr. Not-The-Nine-O'Clock-News, who brings in the elephant. The episode's musical guests, the heavy metal group Motörhead, perform their 1980 single "Ace of Spades".

Criticism[edit]

Writing for The Guardian in 2013, Alexei Sayle claimed that "Bambi" had a detrimental effect on the UK alternative comedy scene of the 1980s, as the guest stars were prominent members of the established Cambridge Footlights, in direct contrast to Sayle's Marxist leanings.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Young Ones – Bambi". Transcription of the "Young Ones" episode "Bambi" as it aired on American MTV in the mid-'80s. Archived from the original on 9 March 2007. Retrieved 10 February 2007. 
  2. ^ Sayle, Alexei (22 January 2013). "Alexei Sayle: 'I'm still full of hate'". The Guardian.