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Lee and Herring rewatch

Started by Shaxberd, May 12, 2024, 11:37:16 AM

Previous topic - Next topic

Shaxberd

Good morning, CaB, and welcome to the Lee and Herring rewatch thread!

Every week we'll be watching an episode of their cult classic 90s series and chatting about it until either everyone gets sick of it or we run out of material.

We're kicking things off today with Fist of Fun, episode 1, series 1. Grab your DVDs or downloads if you've got em, hop to this Youtube link if you don't, settle back with a flask of weak lemon drink, and then come back here when you're done.

Magnum Valentino

Great! YouTube link courtesy of the brilliantly-named UK Stand-Up TV and War Archive.

Ferris


madhair60

also in.

does anyone have the episode notes from the old website? I have the TMWRNJ ones but not FoF

oh also bear in mind the cuts to series 2; we'll need to use broadcast versions of a few episodes, i can provide them if needed

lauraxsynthesis

Haven't watched the full FoF episode 1 since the Go Faster Stripe DVD came out. Watched it and then again with the 2011 commentary by the fellas. As a young feminist in the '90s I remember enjoying the appearance of a confident little girl at the top of the show.

I was surprised that the photo of Julia Sawalha was there from the beginning. When it was first broadcast, I wondered about the extent to which Peter was a real person. It's a great, convincing performance. I notice now though that Baynham's hands are actually shaking which I doubt could be acting, and in the commentary Stu says something about PB's stagefright. I love the foreshadowing mention of Rod Hull. So looking forward to that character appearing.

This time, for the first time I paused to read all the text bits and to have a look at the "subliminal" images. I was amazed to see full frontal naked pictures of Rich and Stu. Blimey. Rich said that when it came to the DVD release he's surprised Stu didn't want it taken out since it's now possible to have a proper look.

I spotted Al Murray but not Alistair McGowan.

Commentary stuff: Stu says that the producer Sarah Smith insisted that odd things be done to his hair as the series went on. Rich said that the thing about touching Paxman's briefcase was true. Stu said that unlike Punt & Dennis and Newman & Baddiel they had actual double act stuff in their show which was unusual at the time. I never thought of it like that before. During the Simon Quinlank sketch, Stu says that he reckons Eldon is so good at learning a lot of words and saying them quickly because he spends 2 hours a day doing Buddhist chanting. Rich said the look of the set was meant to suggest a basement in the BBC. They said Matthew Hall who sent the photo of the arse was Harry Hill, but not if they knew him. Richard said he genuinely did steal Kinder Eggs, and that's a stage further than the pick n mix he's often admitted to gosh. At the end of the university of life sketch, Stu says they wouldn't use being working class as a punchline anymore.

madhair60

This is a bit silly but I've compiled a load of Lee & Herring show notes/BTS/interviews and press releases etc. I didn't put much effort into organising it so it's all over the place and unformatted, but consider this the beta release. It's exported as an ePub so you can read it on Calibre or send it to your phone:

https://mega.nz/file/uw8WTRKI#Zrwuv57FUaNywxwCe2wrn6PQ5ItK8hXontIuoWy4eQ8

I called it "The Lee and Herring Reader", because I'm a cunt. I will revise it with actual formatting and a better structure, eventually.

Also if you have any L&H related text that might fit in well please get in touch.

Dr Rock

This watchalong-a-ding-dong sounds better than a moon up a stick! (did I do that right?)


imitationleather

So this is happening and I am so here for it.

TheAssassin

Quote from: Shaxberd on May 12, 2024, 11:37:16 AMGood morning, CaB, and welcome to the Lee and Herring rewatch thread!

Every week we'll be watching an episode of their cult classic 90s series and chatting about it until either everyone gets sick of it or we run out of material.

We're kicking things off today with Fist of Fun, episode 1, series 1. Grab your DVDs or downloads if you've got em, hop to this Youtube link if you don't, settle back with a flask of weak lemon drink, and then come back here when you're done.

Why are you kicking off with S1E1 of Fo'F?  Thanks to @Magnum Valentino there's a YouTube channel that also has the pilot episode, why not start before the start?

imitationleather

Like if you are watching Fist of Fun in 2024

TheAssassin

Quote from: Magnum Valentino on May 12, 2024, 11:44:10 AMGreat! YouTube link courtesy of the brilliantly-named UK Stand-Up TV and War Archive.

Thank you for that link, I am watching the Pilot episode and ignoring the existence of the OP.

Boy, do they look so young, fresh-faced and slim.

Magnum Valentino

Quote from: madhair60 on May 12, 2024, 04:12:19 PMI called it "The Lee and Herring Reader", because I'm a cunt. I will revise it with actual formatting and a better structure, eventually.

I honestly think you are fucking ACE

Re: the above I didn't link nuffink, I just commented on the link's destination channel's hilarious name

Shaxberd

Quote from: TheAssassin on May 12, 2024, 04:53:34 PMWhy are you kicking off with S1E1 of Fo'F?  Thanks to @Magnum Valentino there's a YouTube channel that also has the pilot episode, why not start before the start?

Bugger, I didn't even see that there! Let's make it a double bill to begin with, I'll edit in the link.

Edit: ah fuck, too much time has passed. Well, here's the link to the pilot: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=PTCt4ri1JxA

Watch one! Watch both! Watch neither and simply imagine what joys could be contained within!

Magnum Valentino

Does anyone want me to stick the commentaries on YouTube? (not that Laura's summary isn't appreciated!)

madhair60


jobotic

I don't remember it the first time round, nice to see them but the idents do my nut in.

Shaxberd

#17
QuoteFist of Fun is the new BBC 2 comedy show that has been described as 'Why Don't You' for grown-ups. With swearing. Through studio guests, filmed inserts, an overload of visual information and a microscopic analysis of their own wasted lives, hosts Richard Herring and Stewart Lee, that's us, aim to help you fill all those long empty hours between your birth and your inevitable death.

(Source)

Series 1, Episode 1

The last time I watched Fist of Fun was in 2008, which by my rough estimate means about as much time has passed between then and now as had passed between then and when the show was first on air. That's the inexorable march of time for ya.

Anyway, this means that I have conveniently forgotten practically everything about it, so it's almost like watching it for the first time!

Overall impressions is that it's dated very well. The aesthetic of it is very 90s but a lot of the material would, I think, seem just as fresh if it was in a brand new show today, with a couple of exceptions here and there.

The use of material that would only be viewable on freezeframe really took me back as a staple of 90s programming. It's interesting that it isn't prevalent these days, even though it's now much easier to actually stop and read the jokes than it would have been in the era where you'd have to record it on tape and then squint to make out the words in between the static and jittering of the paused image. I'm glad we live in an area of easily pausable video, though, since I think some of the funniest material was in those moments (and no, I'm not talking about the full frontal nudity, charmingly bucolic though it was).

Another very 90s moment was the inclusion of their email address and website 'if you're a bit sad'. Fascinated by the 'bbcnc.org.uk' URL - what did NC stand for? Alas, the earliest impression archived by the Wayback Machine is just a page that says that the link is no longer active.

Some observations:
- that girl from the opening titles is probably about 40 now
- I love the grunginess of the set, somewhere between the CBBC broom cupboard and the below-decks scenes in Red Dwarf
- did dating agencies actually ever have offices of their own where you'd be introduced to people in person, or is that a convenient narrative fiction used in TV comedy because sending letters or VHS tapes doesn't translate well on screen?
- spotted John Thomson and Rebecca Front, didn't see Al Murray - was he in the The Tortoise and the Man sketch?


Pilot

Putting this second because I watched it second and I don't regret not linking it in the OP given that, as with many pilots, it repeats a lot of the same material. It's mildly interesting comparing the changes, though, such as the smaller set with a slightly more 'basement of a second-hand shop' feel, and the use of a book about Tintin rather than Men of Achievement 1974.

I am afraid that I laughed out loud at 'Poo-Art Wee', and felt genuinely nauseous at Peter's 'three months cheesecake'. Well done to the props team for some genuinely squalid-looking foodstuffs there.

Niche cultural reference spotting in the audience:
- man sitting behind Harvey the rabbit wearing a Sultans of Ping FC shirt
- friendless man wearing shirt featuring Milk and Cheese


Why not try? Expanding to your full width

Shaxberd

Bonus post: Richard's Shirts Roundup

Richard Herring is sporting some fabulous shirts in this series, of the kind now seen clogging up overpriced 'vintage' shops up and down the country, which I would like to record here for posterity as a reminder of gaudier times.

From the pilot:



From episode 1:

 



Stinky Lomax

I watched the first episode, and I can't be bothered to watch the pilot now so maybe I'll try to remember to watch it at the end of this rewatch or something.

Yeah, loads of great stuff in here, loads of classics already. So many UK comedy names in there as well, with up-and-comers like Al Murray alongside the bigger names like Front and Thomson.

The lads feel a bit nervous, rushing through their lines occasionally and the acting is a little stiff. Probably something that was later helped by the relaxed 'sitting on sofa' set-up of TMWRNJ; this show is all very formal and stagey. It doesn't really tie together as nicely with the 'lifestyle magazine show' concept either - you can definitely feel the attempts to make them the new Newman & Baddiel. Doesn't work as well, though, because they don't have that effortless cool that N&B did back in the mid-90s (sorry, but it's true), they're too nerdy. I think this would have worked a lot better with an Adam & Joe homemade feel rather than all the awkward business with the boxes and the gantry, and the braying live audience, and the 'ooh look we're post-modern' clips of old movies. But then the opening titles are really cheesy and it doesn't feel like there's any irony there.

I think the second season set-up was generally less popular (with L&H? with fans?) but I probably prefer it, it's less obtrusive.

Anyway, thanks all for setting up this rewatch and the ancillary materials!

sevendaughters

- describing Norris McWhirter as a 'keen anti-freedom campaigner' is objectively hilarious
- so at the top they're framing this like a 'hobby/lifestyle' show, does this ever coalesce into something other than a reason to do a sketch show/live double act?
- hello Rebecca Front! hello John Thompson!
- their relationship to 90s lad culture is interesting isn't it given that they're sort of guilty by association?
- oh ok the fast insert lifestyle thing and now Peter Baynham as a lifestyle guru, I suppose the concept is here but it's not as strong as TMWRNJ on paper is it?
- "I do occasionally spend time on my own all the time" lol, this is like a less good Dee Dee in a way, lol at the 'instant trifle' though
- why are they always moving toward where they're going to present from, stand fucking still!
- Al Murray spotted! Punter rather than landlord for once.
- Folk Tale didn't quite work for me, though Stew looked good in the outfit.
- University of Life is like a slightly less well executed version of a Day Today sketch, you can see what they brought to that show and what others added.

promising for an S1E1 but not exactly brilliant!

Quote from: sevendaughters on May 12, 2024, 08:52:51 PM- University of Life is like a slightly less well executed version of a Day Today sketch, you can see what they brought to that show and what others added.
Spoiler alert
That will never happen. Get a f*cking grip!
[close]
prompted the biggest laugh of the episode for me.

Incredible work from Kevin Eldon and Peter Baynham in this.

Stinky Lomax

Oh, forgot to mention - Kate Ashfield from Shaun Of The Dead as Jill in the University Of Life sketch!

Alberon

With the start of episode 1 it's clear they're not yet totally comfortable in front of the camera and the ramshackle looseness that worked so well for them later on has yet to emerge. I think they've remarked that the quite traditional sketch show format was just about to be upended with the likes of the Fast Show so it ends up making FoF look a bit dated. The need to link in and out of sketches especially seems old fashioned and the whole lifestyle angle for the show is totally unnecessary.

I quite like this set. I know they didn't like the second series set which was more generically light-entertainment (and the second series was quite rushed as well). I remember when I went to a recording of a series 2 episode how obviously it was all made out of wood and tissue paper.

Simon Quinlank emerges fully formed onto the telly. Obviously he'd been developed on the radio, but the look and physical acting is all there and perfect from the start. An absolute barnstormer of a hobby as well.

The Gnat's Chuff routine leads into (via a lovely line about 'slack gnats') to the dating sketch. There's one that wouldn't be made today, if only because the punch line wouldn't be that strange.

Peter isn't quite so fully formed as Quinlank. There's some way to go to his final form.

And then the Gall-ery. Is that the first example of the '28 years old I was' attached to the picture of the hilarious arse? Could have been actually 28, I suppose.

I do wonder why the freeze-frame text never really caught on. Too much effort for most people for stuff on screen for a second, perhaps?

The Julia Sawalha stuff always seems a little weird because Rich ended up dating her for a while. That's not a new observation, but it is still true.

Liked the Tortoise and the Man sketch. Seems like the man was about to get a kick from the ginger haired bloke at the end, but was just cut as he was gearing up.

Getting Peter Jones for the University of Life seems a big bit of casting (to me anyway). Also appearing is Lee and Herring regular Andrew Mackay.

I knew nothing about Lee and Herring before this was broadcast, but I was an instant fan. For years I bemoaned the fact I didn't record the first episode until I could finally download a postage stamp sized video off the internet ten years later.

Quote from: Shaxberd on May 12, 2024, 07:47:55 PMAnother very 90s moment was the inclusion of their email address and website 'if you're a bit sad'. Fascinated by the 'bbcnc.org.uk' URL - what did NC stand for? Alas, the earliest impression archived by the Wayback Machine is just a page that says that the link is no longer active.
I hadn't heard of it before (well, I guess I saw it when I saw Fist of Fun when it was first broadcast, but didn't remember it) but apparently it was the BBC Networking Club. Wikipedia says:

QuoteBBC Networking Club www.bbcnc.org.uk (the "nc" standing for "networking club") was launched by BBC Education on 11 May 1994 as a non-profit paid subscription service. For a joining fee of £25 and a monthly subscription of £12, members of the club were given access to an early type of social networking site featuring a bulletin board for sharing information and real-time conversation, along with a dialup Internet connection service.
Although the Weyback Machine doesn't have it, elsewhere on archive.org there are archives of the website and an index of the FTP site, but the website isn't available for download and the FTP index is just a list of files. There isn't much BBC-specific stuff in that list, mostly early internet software (although it does include AuntieLink Plus which sounds like it was made by the BBC). There are a few BBC programmes mentioned at the end of the FTP index but nothing about Fist of Fun, probably because the archive was taken before it was broadcast. The website archive was also before FoF fist aired, but only by a month, so it could conceivably have some FoF preview content but probably not.

Anyway, thanks for starting the rewatch and thanks to everyone who's made it available online. I haven't seen FoF or TMWRJ since they were first broadcast and probably missed some episodes then, so I'll be rewatching.

Mobbd

#25
Quote from: lauraxsynthesis on May 12, 2024, 03:06:19 PMAs a young feminist in the '90s I remember enjoying the appearance of a confident little girl at the top of the show.

She's really good as well, isn't she? Just great.

I have the ghost of a memory that she's called Lucy and that Rich (in Warming Up) described meeting her again later in life. I might be confusing that with his meeting Natalie again, which definitely did happen. The only reference I could find to Lucy in WU is that she got a rare L&H poster: https://richardherring.com/warmingup/10/7/2007/index.html

Quote from: lauraxsynthesis on May 12, 2024, 03:06:19 PMRich said the look of the set was meant to suggest a basement in the BBC.

That was something I always understood and appreciated. It's the same idea as Auntie's Bloomers being in the [same] basement and Philip Schofield/Andy Peters being in the broom cupboard. Quiet areas in the same world as the major/establishment BBC shows, Lower Decks-like.

Quote from: lauraxsynthesis on May 12, 2024, 03:06:19 PMThey said Matthew Hall who sent the photo of the arse was Harry Hill, but not if they knew him.

They definitely knew him. He was around in the Cluub Zarathustra days (as early as 1993). I was delighted to see his name there. I didn't imagine he'd actually sent it in though: I just assumed they had the funny picture, wanted to show it and used their mate's name on it.

Edit: And here's Stew with HH in 1995.


Mobbd

- "those stupid slack gnats"

- Rich dressed as a king. Young Rich really had the power to make me laugh by putting on a bit of a costume. He shares a rare distinction there with people like Terry Jones: someone who can just look really (knowingly) funny sometimes. The old man he plays in the Pie Pie sketch is another time I remember him looking fucking hilarious.

- "why are you doing this, why?"

- I love the way The Man pointedly says "The Tortoise" as the reason for having to leave the pub. It's so invested with the seriousness of a job he has to do.

- Vomming on the pies was really surprising and strange. Loved it.

- I like how Rich says "that's right, those are all my interests" in the dating sketch.

- In the Kinder Egg bit, Rich says "the law of this so-called land"

- Stew bullying Rich over the Ice-T comparison. "Is that you mum there on the end?" etc. Interesting to see their obsession with bullying so early in the show. Not sure how I'll feel about that going forward (Rich bullying Peter, the girl who smelled of spam etc) but this was funny.

- Andrew Mackay was a bit too scary and intense in that School of Hard Knocks bit but I did enjoy:

- "my dear girl, that's the first place the rozzers will look!"

Magnum Valentino

Here's episode 1.1 with commentary. If I can figure how to easily add the subtitles for the episode audio I'll add it later. Enjoy!


Stinky Lomax

I encourage everyone here to support Rich & Stew & Chris Evans not that one by ordering these on DVD (I assume they're still available). I bought two copies of each season back when they were first released, for myself and a mate who's a big fan, so I feel justified in watching them on YouTube now rather than digging them out and dusting off my old PC with the DVD drive!

Magnum Valentino

Quote from: Stinky Lomax on May 13, 2024, 07:59:18 PMI encourage everyone here to support Rich & Stew & Chris Evans not that one by ordering these on DVD (I assume they're still available). I bought two copies of each season back when they were first released, for myself and a mate who's a big fan, so I feel justified in watching them on YouTube now rather than digging them out and dusting off my old PC with the DVD drive!

The set with the two series is still in print, but the initial 4-disc 'book' sets are deleted, so that's all the studio tapes and assorted extras no longer legally available.