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Harry Hill's TV Burp revisited ...

Started by EggsLikeABird, November 23, 2021, 01:38:06 AM

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EggsLikeABird

Someone uploaded loads of them online, and I was having a look through, and ... well ... Harry Hill walked a fine line didnt he? Just on the videos I saw, he blacked up, took some creative license without how the Chinese speak, did this bit about how trans people were simply "men with beards" (in fact there was a lot of "lol tranny!" stuff that wasnt really acceptable when then), when Hayley off Corrie had cancer he quipped "she's only just got used to not standing up in the toilet" and all kinds of other stuff that wouldnt fly today.

I know its easy to point at him in hindsight, but you'd have thought he'd have been better than that wouldnt you? Real hacky bullshit throughout it.

Midas

Yeah, I watched an old highlights episode by chance a few months ago and was dismayed at how awful a lot of it was. Couldn't bring myself to watch any more.

Mobius

Are those full episodes that were uploaded?

I enjoy watching the compilation and best of bits on Youtube and there is a lot of really funny stuff but you're right, lots of trans jokes, just real basic shit, not funny or clever. Also lots of punching down at thick people, the working class.


amateur

The best bits were always noticing weird things going on in soaps, as I recall. Also very much enjoyed things like "TV highlight of the week" becoming "TV high voice of the week". The slightly surreal stuff still hits home.

Mugging off people with odd food habits by saying "chippy chips" in a voice that could at best be described as silly, less enjoyable now.

He had a habit of punching down, didn't he? To whit that terrible "I Wanna Baby" song.

Glebe

Used to love it, one of the funniest things on TV, granted though I'm not entirely surprised if there were some iffy moments I've forgotten about. It got a rerun run on Gold a couple of years ago, but I don't recall anything in particular being dodgy/offensive.

thr0b

Without wanting to be all "you can't say anything anymore" - it punched in all directions. It was a silly show looking for a joke in any situation. Even when close to the line, it was gloriously silly.

franticplanet

One of the things which makes me appreciate just how quickly (people who've gone bananas notwithstanding) mainstream acceptance of trans people has moved in the past decade is how Harry would get big Saturday tea-time laughs from pretending to be sick when There's Something About Miriam came up.

DrGreggles

Paul Burrell (with 2 open suitcases) "Can anyone guess where I'm going?"
(cut to Harry) "To the palace to get more stuff?"

Mobbd

Sorry but it was never any good at all.

I loved Harry Hill. His Man Alive video is a sacred text.

His C4 show was pretty darn good -- "It's Finsbury Park!" etc -- but even that was the beginning of the decline.

He was very good at drawing fond attention to very conservative things (Royal family stuff, old-fashioned values, chops and mash, British soap opera references, Barry Gosney) in a way that transcended nostalgia comedy through its forceful surrealism. But that interest in conservative grot has to be handled and deployed very carefully and it was all over by the time TV Burp came around.

TLDR: His love letter to ITV from C4 was good. His being part of ITV is very, very bad.

PammySpacek

Quote from: franticplanet on November 23, 2021, 09:50:50 AMOne of the things which makes me appreciate just how quickly (people who've gone bananas notwithstanding) mainstream acceptance of trans people has moved in the past decade is how Harry would get big Saturday tea-time laughs from pretending to be sick when There's Something About Miriam came up.

Those moments become way grimmer when you learn Miriam herself died in 2019 under suspicious circumstances.


Quote from: Mobbd on November 23, 2021, 10:51:45 AMHe was very good at drawing fond attention to very conservative things (Royal family stuff, old-fashioned values, chops and mash, British soap opera references, Barry Gosney) in a way that transcended nostalgia comedy through its forceful surrealism. But that interest in conservative grot has to be handled and deployed very carefully and it was all over by the time TV Burp came around.

I still love that Channel 4 show. When he came out with "I Wanna Baby" it was pretty startling, and like a lot of other people I felt sort of betrayed - but I think you've more or less hit the nail on the head as to why that shift happened.

In a weird way, the otherwise daft sketch below ends up unintentionally showing how conservative and staid Harry's real-life views would get / already were. I can just imagine him saying something along the lines of "I've met the Queen, she's a very nice lady" in an interview now. Still, the credits gag helps takes the retrospective bitterness off.



Pink Gregory

"The Sild"

Fantastic nonsense word there

Jumblegraws

I'm sure I remember a weird moment of homophobia in TV Burp; a clip of some TV show where a gay man says something sincere but I suppose must have had some remote suggestiveness because there was a cut back to Harry in the studio and he said to camera "Yeah, I bet you do" and then did a bras d'honneur.

I may have completely misunderstood. If anyone can fill in everyone else on what the hell I'm talking about I'd be grateful.

Billy

I divide TV Burp into three "eras" like some epic musician discography - the scrappy first couple of years (2001-3) when it was buried away late at night and some of it lands and other bits don't (such as the really long sketches that take up half an episode involving the likes of random people from The Bill and so on), then the 'golden age' (2004-9ish) when it slowly moves up the schedules and has most of its best and funniest moments, and then those fucking horrible last few years (2010-12) when it all becomes cuddly and mainstream and there's puppet characters and 'Wagbo' and I Wanna Baby, all leading up to the movie which absolutely nobody watched. I am informed that the very end of the run got a bit better but I'd long given up in disappointment by then, perhaps the turning point was that brief era in the late 00s when it was on every week for months which would have exhausted Hill somewhat.

Those first few late night series do have some rather shocking moments given what the show eventually became - there's occasional swearing, the Miriam stuff as mentioned earlier, and a sketch that sticks in my mind where the punchline is literally Harry just violently slapping a woman in the face and telling her to shut the fuck up (not quite in those words) and the audience are briefly stunned into uneasy silence. Think it was a character from Emmerdale or something. I did love it at the time though, as a 15 year old it felt like Harry was some sort of messiah showing us all this shit on TV and saying what a load of bollocks it all was, which made the later Wagbo we-love-ITV years even more of a letdown in comparison.

When I saw it live in early 2009 there were two jokes that notably didn't make the finished edit, one of which being a rape joke involving a Tamagotchi and an iPod, the other when he calls up a polar bear for some reason, states "the new president is BLACK!" and the bear hangs up on disgust because aahhh do you see it's a white supremacist bear or something. Overall definitely a show that fell from grace quickly though fondly remembered at its peak by me and others my age group.

Old Thrashbarg

Quote from: Mobbd on November 23, 2021, 10:51:45 AMSorry but it was never any good at all.

Quote from: DrGreggles on November 23, 2021, 10:04:01 AMPaul Burrell (with 2 open suitcases) "Can anyone guess where I'm going?"
(cut to Harry) "To the palace to get more stuff?"

At it's peak (defined pretty well in the previous post) it was packed with brilliant little gags like that one. Certainly not everything landed and there was plenty of stuff that (rightfully) wouldn't be allowed to go unchallenged nowadays, but for a good number of years every episode was guaranteed to produce a lot of laughs.

ASFTSN

Never liked anything he's done, the sort of demeanour I can imagine coldly looking down the cellar stairs at you, framed in a rectangle of fluorescent light as you rattle your chains and beg to be let out to see your family, who you're unaware he's already hunted to death in the woods of his estate.

Mobbd

Quote from: Billy on November 23, 2021, 12:49:26 PMit felt like Harry was some sort of messiah showing us all this shit on TV and saying what a load of bollocks it all was,

I think he was utterly in thrall to it and wanted to share his commentaries with us. Basically Gogglebox.

Charlie Brooker is yer man for showing us what bollocks TV was. He seemed to be someone who once loved TV (citing things like Civilisation and Clive Anderson as good golden-era telly) and became a TV critic at a moment when it was increasingly about washed-up weather forecasters eating kangaroo anus. He was disappointed with what telly had become. Harry fucking loved it all, especially the ur examples of mainstream piss like Emmerdale.

Gurke and Hare

Quote from: Pink Gregory on November 23, 2021, 11:44:49 AM"The Sild"

Fantastic nonsense word there

It's a good funny newspaper name, certainly. It's a real thing though, not a nonsense word - it's a type of young herring and I think it's another facet of the nostalgia stuff mentioned above, tinned sild would have been a thing during the post-war austerity years when there wasn't much real food around.

FiremanJim

It's probably made me laugh more than any other show, but the constant bullying of Heather from EastEnders disgusted and baffled me at the time. I really don't know how they got away with that.

Billy

The Channel 4 show meant the world to me as a late 1990s child - it aired so late at night (something ridiculous like 11:05pm) that to someone still in primary school felt like this secret no one else knew about that got broadcast long after everyone was in bed, like I was the only one watching. I've heard similar stories involving fans of Vic Reeves's Big Night Out earlier in the decade, although ironically with Hill I only discovered the show due to the first series being repeated in a much more kid-friendly early evening slot a year after transmission, as a cheap summer filler - complete with some dodgy-sounding overdubs covering up when someone would say the word "slut" or other problematic pre-watershed words. I've read that Channel 4 were never big fans of it hence the ludicrously late timeslots and the final series being flung out long after it was recorded and just before Hill buggered off to ITV.

About a decade ago there was a brilliant spoof "documentary" on the show on Channel 4, which was probably Burt Kwouk's last appearance on anything (still very funny but obviously much frailer by then) and featuring a nice tribute to the by-then-departed Barrie Gosney who played a few different roles. Funnily enough my mum is a pal of Steve Bowditch in real life (Finsbury Park) to the point where he did a comedy set at her 40th birthday about fifteen years ago - his Doctor Who song on Hill's First Class Scamp tour (listing all the Doctors cheerily and then screaming "DAVISON!! DAVISON!!" in mad rage) being his pinnacle in my book.

The 1998 Christmas Special became such a festive favourite for me that the videotape was almost worn out within a few years, and I could probably recite the whole damn thing by how many times I rewatched it. "Now, I was bought up in a motor caravan..."

Captain Z

Quote from: Gurke and Hare on November 23, 2021, 02:19:11 PMIt's a real thing though, not a nonsense word - it's a type of young herring

Like a Richard's Herring!

Mobbd

Quote from: Billy on November 23, 2021, 03:07:54 PMhence the ludicrously late timeslots

I suspect I'm maybe one year older than you (born '82) because I saw it when it first went out in the original late-night slot but it felt similarly secret and I treasured it somewhat. If memory serves, it replaced Phil Kay's telly vehicle, of which I saw perhaps two episodes and liked quite a bit before Harry appeared and really appealed to me.

"Oooooh, Coco!" ["crossroads theme*]

I remember the DAVISON! DAVISON! thing from First Class Scamp too. I think of that embarrassingly often, usually when trying to remember all the Doctor Whos.

Finsbury Park was indeed great and he has done surprisingly little else (correct me if I'm wrong); I remember his appearance as the porno shop guy in Black Books, Bill Bailey pointing him out as Finsbury Park in the DVD commentary. I loved his classic catchphrases ("Do they mean me? They surely do." / "My chief scientist"). Just completely insane. I think you're right to hint that the first season or so of this might have been "our" Big Night Out.

By the way, OP, this thread should have been called Harry Hill Reburped. The standards around here have plummeted shockingly. I can't help but think I am partly to blame.


gilbertharding

Quote from: Gurke and Hare on November 23, 2021, 02:19:11 PMIt's a good funny newspaper name, certainly. It's a real thing though, not a nonsense word - it's a type of young herring and I think it's another facet of the nostalgia stuff mentioned above, tinned sild would have been a thing during the post-war austerity years when there wasn't much real food around.


They still sell tinned sild. No idea who's buying it mind - people afflicted with scurf I guess.

I loved the early days of Harry Hill - the Fruit Fancies stuff. His appearances on Mark and Lard's Radio 1 graveyard shift show. His Big Brother Alan ('if it's too hard, I won't understand it'), Finsbury Park, Alan Jr (RIP), Stouffer. Great.

It wasn't all down hill from there. Burp had its problems, and although he gave You've Been Framed the kick up the arse it so badly needed, that's really not saying much (and some of his work on that is problematic too) - but he's come back I think. I like him on Junior Bake Off (though I don't watch it very often). 

PaulTMA

How does the Mail Order bride material hold up these days?  Haven't seen that in years.

danwho9

November 23, 2021, 07:12:57 PM #24 Last Edit: November 23, 2021, 08:32:23 PM by danwho9
Quote from: Billy on November 23, 2021, 12:49:26 PMI did love it at the time though, as a 15 year old it felt like Harry was some sort of messiah showing us all this shit on TV and saying what a load of bollocks it all was, which made the later Wagbo we-love-ITV years even more of a letdown in comparison.

When the later series first aired I was still a kid and at the time I thought it was the funniest shit in the world, which probably is a good indication of the direction the show took in those years as it abandoned any sense of what you could call cutting edge satire of TV for cheap CBBC-tier humour. When I do go back and revisit the show I exclusively stick to the first six or so series for that reason as there were definitely some pretty hilarious bits, especially when he was taking the piss out of ridiculous shows like 'Young Butcher of the Year' which felt like they were created just to be lampooned on TV Burp.

Alberon

In retrospect, Hill's right wing atitudes were always there, but a lot of the now-unacceptable stuff in Burp seems to be a change in British society.

It is surprising to me how quickly the nation's mood on some things has moved on in just a decade. Despite the transphobic media cabal that seems to exist there clearly has been a seismic shift in attitudes to trans people and jokes about them.

But it did start almost twenty years ago, so it would be strange if it hadn't aged.

Burp went on too long, most really good stuff does, but when it was good it was really good. Sometimes he could get the biggest laugh with just a sideways glance.



I've got really fond memories of TV Burp, but maybe that's because it's not the kind of show you rewatch. Reading this thread, I think I'd be pretty embarrassed by some of the stuff I used to laugh at if I saw it again now.

It turned properly shit when TV writers obviously started including stuff in their shows that they knew would make it onto TV Burp. And when the casts of shit like Emmerdale starting appearing in the studio every episode it was game over. It wasn't funny when the people the show was originally taking the piss out of got in on the joke.

I'll give Harry the benefit of the doubt despite all the unpleasantness though. He was hardly the only one punching down back then, and it's not like he's not doing a Cleese or Gervais and constantly complaining about cancel culture.

ProvanFan

Yeah but Harry Hill's TV Burp isn't exactly Shakespeare is it babe?

JamesTC

For some reason, this ten seconds has been burned into my memory since it originally aired. Can hardly remember anything else apart from "onion rings".

ProvanFan

His Channel 4 show can't have been on that late, I watched it with my parents. Maybe it was the last thing on before I headed to my room for Adam & Joe or whatever.