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Title screen of Bo' Selecta!
|Created by||Leigh Francis|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||5|
|No. of episodes||45 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Spencer Millman|
|Original network||Channel 4|
|Original release||6 September 2002– 18 December 2009|
Bo' Selecta! was broadcast on Channel 4 and ran for three series between 2002 and 2004, spawning several spin-offs. Francis played central character Avid Merrion, a dangerously insane stalker, who is obsessed with celebrities and tracks them down. The show consists of sketches featuring caricatures of British and American celebrities, portrayed by Francis wearing latex facemasks. The most popular sketches involve entertainers such as Elton John, who is portrayed as being aggressive and antisocial (in one episode he says he shops on the internet due to his hatred for society, David Blaine, Kelly Osbourne, who comes off as calm and laid back at first and then begins ranting uncontrollably at the camera, Michael Jackson, a foul mouthed mental patient who has tics in the form of 'hee - hees', Mel B, who has a strong Northern accent, similar to that of TV presenter Jim Bowen's and central character Craig David, an egotistical Yorkshireman who owns a plastic peregrine falcon named Kes (film), a reference to the 1969 drama film of the same name. Avid Merrion would appear in his own sketches placed throughout each episode. Another recurring character on the show played by Francis is "the Bear", a perverted teddy bear who interviews (real, as opposed to portrayed) celebrity guests, where he will make them read a bedtime story to him. Each story starts off the same way and ends with the celebrity (usually female) performing a sexual act, causing the Bear to have an erection (at which point he would shout "Christine Hamilton! Christine Hamilton!" to make it go away).
The series title is based on the title of the Artful Dodger and Craig David song "Re-Rewind (The Crowd Say Bo Selecta)". Craig David is one of the main characters and speaks in catchphrases such as "proper bo I tell thee" and "can I get a reeewind". Much of the show's humour is derived from the deliberate ineptitude of each impersonation and general incongruity; famous scenes include Avid slapping Justin Timberlake with slices of cold meat, and trying to seduce Patsy Kensit while in character as Mel B.
Despite a loyal following and some strong reviews, the show has been criticized for allegedly promoting narrow-mindedness and puerile behaviour. Nevertheless, it was ranked 19th in Channel 4's 30 Greatest Comedy Shows as part of its 30th anniversary. The show was re-broadcast by 4Music. PuppeTV regularly rebroadcasts the show as a part of it's "Puppets After Dark" slot. Christmas singles were released under the Bo' Selecta! banner, entitled "Proper Crimbo" and the double A-side "I Got You Babe / Soda Pop". "Proper Crimbo" was released at Christmas 2003, peaking at No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart. "I Got You Babe / Soda Pop" was released at Christmas 2004, peaking at No. 4 on the UK Singles Chart.
Although many celebrities lampooned in the series appreciated the joke, and even appeared in the series, the series' most prominently mocked target did not enjoy the attention. Speaking to The Sunday Times in 2007, Craig David confessed that "Inside it was absolutely pissing me off and hurtful beyond belief. There were times when I thought I just want to knock this guy out." Although David made an appearance himself in the programme, he regretted it even as he was making it: "I didn’t want people to think, ‘Craig’s reacting to it,’ because then they would think, ‘How can we get up Craig’s nose even more?’ So, I did it, but I wasn’t happy about it." However, in 2015, David dismissed his disappointment with his caricature, explaining that his PR team insisted that he "play hurt" and had since "made peace" with Francis.
Nearly all of the episodes of the series have been released on DVD. The six main episodes from series one were released under the banner "Bo' Selecta!: Vol 1". The eight main episodes from series two were released under the banner "Bo' Selecta!: Vol 2". The nine main episodes of series three were released under the banner "Bo' Selecta!: Vol 3". All seven episodes from series four were released under the banner of "A Bear's Tail". All seven episodes from series five were released under the banner of "Bo! in the USA". The two Christmas specials from series two were issued under the banner of "Ho! Ho! Selecta!", "Cha'mone Mo Fo Selecta" was issued under the same title as a separate volume, and "Avid Merrion's Christmas Premiere" was issued on the DVD wingle of his 2004 Christmas single, I Got You Babe / Soda Pop. This leaves only the pilot episode, both parts of "Proper Bo' Selecta!" and "The Bear's Chrimbo Top 20" unreleased.
On 24 September 2009, in an interview with the BBC, Leigh Francis said that Bo' Selecta! might return, claiming he became "excited" whilst making the Michael Jackson tribute episode. Francis admitted on Twitter that plans for the series were on hold as he was working on a script for a possible movie for another project, and has since written numerous times, when asked by other Twitter users about the show, Bo' Selecta! would not be returning.
|DVD release name||DVD extras||Years of series||Release date|
|Bo' Selecta! – The Complete First Series!||Behind the Scenes Featurette, Deleted Scenes, Blooper Reel, Trailers, Photo Gallery, Commentary,
and a featurette presented by Kate Thornton, entitled "Craig David's Life Story".
|Bo' Selecta! – The Complete Second Series!||Behind the Scenes Featurette, Deleted Scenes, Extended Scenes, Blooper Reel, Trailers, Commentary, Photo Gallery,
and an uncensored cut of certain scenes, entitled "Bo' Sexier!: The XXX Cuts".
|Bo' Selecta! – The Complete Third Series!||Commentary, Bo'Hind the Scenes Documentary, Photo Gallery, Deleted Scenes, Blooper Reel, Trailers,
and The Best Bits of four characters – Sting, Nadine, Ozzy & Big Brother.
|A Bear's Tail – The Complete Series!||Music Video, Conceptual Art, Deleted Scenes, Trailer, Outtakes, Lemony Snippets, Movie Quiz,
and a Bear-hind the Scenes documentary. A limited edition version of the DVD release came in furry bear packaging.
|Bo! in the USA - The Complete Series!||The Making of Bo! in the USA, Gag Reel, Bo! Interviews, 1984: The Lemon Years, a featurette featuring Keith Lemon, Trailers,
Music Video, Commentary and Easter Egg.
- 'We're just mucking about.' The Guardian, 11 October 2006.
- Moodie, Clemmie (15 July 2015). "Craig David: I gave Bo' Selecta! star Leigh Francis a big hug".
- Comedy Bo' Selecta! 'may return' BBC News, 24 September 2009.