There is an extremely fine line in politically incorrect comedy. Amazingly, Matt Lucas and David Williams — the creators and stars of Little Britain — seem to understand that line quite well, knowing when to cross it and having the right sensibility with finding humor in it. This is also extremely important in sketch comedy, when the obvious punch lines and jokes can be tiresome and trendy, whereas Little Britain can only be described as fresh and smart.
Matt and David are very talented. They perform a series of continuing story-line sketches involving some very memorable characters like the freeloading Bubbles De Vere, the mama’s boy Harvey Pincher, and the very ignorant Dafydd Thomas. Life on the British Isles has never been more enjoyable (or weird).
There aren’t many talented actors who can play the opposite sex better than Matt and David. Their performances are comfortable and effortless, enhancing the sketches of “Judy and Maggie” and “Emily and Florence” to the point of reality (although I’m stretching it in regards to “Emily and Florence”). Judy and Maggie are two elderly women who are very involved in the community, judging bake sales and cooking competitions. Although they seem friendly, Maggie — in reality — is a closet homophobe and racist, which she subconsciously shows in vomiting anything made by anyone other than a white heterosexual male or female. Although this motif gets old after a while, it’s cringe-inducing to see whom Maggie vomits on, and it’s funny how people handle being spewed upon.
They also play Emily and Florence, two transvestites who try to blend into society as two women yet can’t help but look like two men dressed up as women and constantly refer to themselves as two ladies despite only using men’s restrooms. Sexuality is a recurring theme in the series. There is also a character Sebastian Love, who is the personal aid to the British Prime Minister, played by Anthony Head. Sebastian is flamboyantly gay, and does everything and anything to please the PM, while also using every opportunity to touch him.
Dafydd Thomas is a character who comes out of the closet to his parents and to the village. He proudly proclaims himself the only gay in the village and goes on a crusade to promote the acceptance of homosexuality, yet he is very oblivious to the fact that everyone does accept homosexuality and that a lot of people are gay too. He loses the sense of him being a gay novelty and in episode six threatens to move to a place where there are no gays — San Francisco.
Other characters include Vicky Pollard (an overweight girl who talks a mile a minute), Marjorie Dawes (the leader of Fat Fighters who constantly insults the people she is trying to help lose weight), and Harvey (who has become recently engaged but shocks his fiance with his very strong attachment to his mother’s breast. The funniest characters are Lou and Andy, two close brothers. Lou takes very good care of Andy, whom Lou thinks is confined to a wheelchair. Andy, however, is very active — from riding horses to climbing up trees — outside of Lou’s sight.
Extras include a Comic Relief Special episode with guests Elton John and Robbie Williams. There are radio interviews of Matt and David on with Chris Moyles and Jonathan Ross. There are also television interviews on the Jonathan Ross show and “Little Britain at the Net.” There is a 43-minute behind-the-scenes “Little Documentary” that chronicles the making of the second series, with lots of rehearsals and a few performances (including some with a live studio audience) of the sketches. It’s fascinating how many times the actors perform the jokes and sketches.
Rounding out are commentary tracks on all seven episodes by Matt and David, and about three minutes of outtakes, including an out-of-the-blue appearance by George Michael. Each episode is wryly by Tom Baker of Doctor Who fame. Too bad British shows don’t air the number of episodes that American shows do, considering their great quality.