So rumours abound of the Fast Show returning after 15 odd years. An incredible programme which completely reinvented sketch comedy and still remains one of the funniest comedies of the last 20 years. I remember sitting in front of the telly on Friday nights at the age of 10 with frankfurters, chips and beans, waiting for the iconic intro to start. We would sit through 30 mins of sure-fire recurring characters who offered no surprise, but never lost their originality and spark. It’s impossible to listen to a run down of the best known characters and not instantly smile with recognition, even at such prosaic character names as competitive dad, brilliant kid, anyone fancy a pint?, the fat sweaty coppers, invisible woman or inept zookeeper.
Paul Whitehouse is for me one of the most inventive, original and funniest comedy performers on television. I think it’s also fair to say he stands out as a brilliant straight actor with heart-wrenching pathos shown in such characters as Ted or Rowley Birkin Q.C.
However I was fairly disappointed with the news that the show might be returning for a reunion. It seems that no show of success can simply be put to rest. The show was ground-breaking in the 90’s so why risk bringing it back when all the performers are so much older. I would welcome a new show by the same cast, or even a whole load of new characters, but more than likely it will just be a revival of the old characters for one last novelty fling.
There seems to be less risk or investment in new comedy acts nowadays as commissioners constantly put their stock in unoriginal, but viewer-dependable shows, or the hundreds and hundreds of television comedy panel shows that don’t even stray one inch from the established format save for an uninteresting gimmick or new host. Fawlty Towers and The Office thankfully gave us the benefit of quitting while they were ahead, never letting the mastery of such writing and performing be tarnished by watered-down and over-stretched premises and ideas.
At this stage the news of a reunion is purely speculation and rumour, but I hope we can trust Charlie Higson, Paul Whitehouse and Co. to produce and deliver a new show which is just as funny and just as ground breaking as the Fast Show first was 17 years ago.
However, on a much more uplifting point – the BBC have called time on Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, so that’s good.