Telly for Anglophiles | A Bit of Fry and Laurie

Their shared sense of humour immediately clicked, forging a comic partnership that became one of the strongest and most enduring in Britain across the 80s and 90s.

After joining ensemble sketch show Alfresco, alongside Thompson and Robbie Coltrane and following appearances on Saturday Live, in 1987 they landed their own BBC series.

This outlet for their burgeoning writing and performing talents enabled them to explore their particular brand of humour, which readily mixed subtle wordplay with slapstick and maintained an anarchic edge partly thanks to their awareness of, and frequent references to, the set of their own show.

The mix of sketches had a healthy hit-rate and unpredictability, alternating between items recorded in front of the audience and items shot on location.

And as in all great double acts both performers had something individual to offer, be it Fry’s love of language and delight in innuendo or Laurie’s ability to parody musical genres at the piano (a range of talents not dissimilar to Peter Cook and Dudley Moore).

Although each series enjoyed its loose structure, certain items did become recurring features, such as the Pythonesque spoof vox-pops and the continuing travails of two business magnates in the Uttoxeter area.

A Bit of Fry and Laurie ran to four series ending in 1995, although the pair have reunited regularly, particularly for the BBC’s biennial Comic Relief event.

It’s ironic that they should have based a 1990 episode around trying to make it ‘big’, given the enormous success each has since enjoyed on both sides of the Atlantic.

They may have eventually outgrown the sketch format but this series offered early proof of their skill and variety at both writing and performing comedy.


About musingsofananglophile

Fran. 20. Anglophile. Daydreamer. English Literature Student.

Posted on March 17, 2012, in Telly and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. One of my favourite shows, this. Hope I’m not a British stereotype!

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