The Comic Strip Presents – tape 485

Here’s The Comic Strip Presents, with The Yob. I don’t always like Keith Allen’s films for the series, but I can’t quite put my finger on why. It might be that his satire can sometimes be a little leaden, and he tends to stratch gags a little too far beyond their braking point.

This one starts off almost like a prototype Nathan Barley, with Allen playing exactly the kind of poncy pop video director we all imagine they all are (and I also imagine we’re wrong).

Keith Allen in The Yob

At the start, there’s a really noticeable ‘over the shoulder ADR’ moment. Mark Elliot is trying to persuade Patrick (Allen) to do a video for UB40, but he’s too busy. Then there’s a shot over Allen’s shoulder, where he says “I mean I love UB40, yeah, one of my favourite bands, I grew up with them” in dialogue that’s quite clearly added later, and said with a lot more enthusiasm than the rest of the dialogue. I wonder if the band, who provided music for the episode, complained that this scene made them look bad, so they added it later. It clearly wasn’t in the dialogue they shot in set, hence the over-the-shoulder trick.

During a visit to a UB40 concert, Patrick inadvertently chooses to take some coke in a cubicle that’s part of a science experiment being run by Ade Edmondson in a lab next door to the concert – I presume it’s a University campus. In the adjoining cubicle, a yob, Gary Olsen, decides to use it as a toilet.

Gary Olsen in The Yob

Astute viewers will have spotted that David Cronenberg’s The Fly is an inspiration for this scenario.

Ade Edmondson

The tow unwitting experimental subjects leave the lab no wiser, and apparently unharmed. But Olsen takes to reading the Independent on the building site. And Patrick asks for Whelks from the catering truck on their video shoot for UB40. Also on set, a brief cameo from Comic Strip supremo Peter Richardson.

Peter Richardson

Ali Campbell from UB40 – “Do we have to wear the hats.”

Ali Campbell

Warren Clarke plays a rather camp producer.

Warren Clarke

And Patrick is turning a touch racist.

He eventually transforms bodily into a yob – transformation effects by Christopher Tucker, who did The Company of Wolves and The Elephant Man.

Keith Allen Yobbed

And elsewhere, Edmondson and His coworker Betsy Brantley (she was the live reference performer for Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, fact fans) have tracked Gary Olsen down “by scraping the faeces left in the pod, and taking samples from the London sewage plant, we were able to discern the exact district he came from.” Beat that, CSI!

And Olsen has also had a transformation.

Gary Olsen de-yobbed

“I’ve done things the kids on this estate daren’t even dream about. I started hiring videos with subtitles. Truffaut, Godard, Bretton. Then I had the uncontrollable urge to join the Communist Party.”

The programme climaxes with an attempt to merge Olsen and Allen to create a perfect man, but unfortunately, this time a cat gets into the pod.

cat legs

Credit spot – Allen’s children Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones) and Lilly Allen (pop singer) were in the background during the video shoot.

Next episode is Alexei Sayle’s Didn’t You Kill My Brother. Sayle pre-empts Tom Hardy by about 20 years by playing the two notorious Moss Brothers, Carl and Stirling, vicious gangsters and gentleman’s outfitters. When Carl is sentenced to 30 years in prison, he uses the time to better himself, earning 428 educational qualifications.

Moss Bros

On release, he’s looked after by his probation officer, played by co-writer Pauline Melville, who might not have his best interests at heart, especially when we discover she’s the daughter of the evil Judge Hate who sent Moss down in the first place.

In a flashback to a session in prison, one of the other prisoners is played by Mark Wing Davey, Zaphod Beeblebrox himself.

Mark Wing Davey

Also appearing are Dexter Fletcher – still playing kids at this time. He’s playing dads now.

Dexter Fletcher

And the incomparable Beryl Reid as Carl and Stirling’s appalling mother.

Beryl Reid

The next episode is Funseekers. Nigel Planer plays a slightly desperate thirtysomething, a little too old for the Funseekers holiday demographic, but still wanting to have fun.

Nigel Planer

My biggest problem with this one is that I’ve never been on this kind of holiday, and it’s always seemed like the worst kind of hell. So all the programme is to me is a lot of people behaving in the worst possible way, without anything funny actually happening.

Even the philosophical, semi-religious second story running through it doesn’t really do enough to keep the interest. Not a favourite.



  • barclaycard
  • Tennent’s Extra – Dick Spanner
  • Rochas
  • Esso Superlube
  • Equitable Life
  • Coca Cola
  • mcDonalds
  • trail: Catch Us If You Can
  • Vauxhall
  • Heineken
  • Lee Rough Riders
  • Texas Homecare
  • British Telecom International
  • Fosters
  • trail: Sitting Ducks/Melvin and Howard

One comment

  1. I watched these at the time, I remember not finding the Yob or holiday episodes funny, but the Alexei Sayle one was pretty weird, which was OK. His stream of consciousness rants had one line about a dog with the face of Lord Palmerston saying “Where’s the spoons?” which has stuck with me for some reason.

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