N and I have been watching The 1980s BBC comedy series The Young Ones on dvd. N is a big fan of a recent series called The Mighty boosh, which I think is largely inspired by the Young Ones so I wanted N to see it and compare (plus I thought he would enjoy the anarchic humour).
The Young Ones for anyone who doesn't know was about four students who share a house (see picture) and what they get up to. It was ground breaking at the time. There had never been anything on Tv like it and many people found it offensive as it contained smoking, drinking, swearing, toilet humour, surrealism and violence all in copious quantities.
I wasn't sure that I would enjoy it. I hadn't seen it for at least fifteen years. I loved it when I came out but I was in my late teens then. So I was pleasently surprised, the first couple of episodes were ok but as the series progresses it gets better and better (as the actors get more comfortable in their roles. Obviously they must have taken some inspiration from Monty Python but watching this now I can see how fresh and different it was for it's time. The humour is of it's time which dates it a little, I had to explain a few jokes to N (like who Norman Tebbit is!). But generally it holds up very well.
What also struck me was how it completely changed the face of British sit coms - paving the way for many of the series we know and love now - Men Behaving Badly, The West Wing, Father Ted, Teachers and Spaced. Sit com was very tame before the Young Ones came along. Sure there were other comedies about people sharing flats etc (the Liver Birds, Robins Nest) but they were very staid in comparison and ore realistic in their format. What was so different about the young ones was it's fast paced surrealism - it's more like a Tom and Jerry cartoon than real life, but the chracters have elements that are based on people we can all relate to.
I had forgotton how they used puppets in a weird and creative way animating anything from hamsters to cheese to cigarette butts. I was also amazed at how many people appear in it who went on to become incredibly famous. There are The Actors themselves of course, Ben Elton (who was one of the writers), Stephen Fry, Hugh laurie, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Hale and Pace, Robbie Coltrane, Tony Robinson, Gryf Rhys Jones, Mel Smith and Emma Thompson all make appearences.
This is well worth a watch - it can atill make me laugh and I am hard to please!
and what's more you can buy each series brand new for less than a tenner on ebay - can't be bad!