''Good evening, armchair Britain. My name is Kevin Turvey.''
This underrated BBC Scotland sketch show 'A Kick Up The Eighties' is notable today for bringing the then unknown ( and very much missed ) Rik Mayall to national prominence. Here Mayall appeared in vox pop sketches as Kevin Turvey, a boorish investigative reporter from Redditch. To try and maintain the illusion that his alter ego really existed, Mayall's name did not appear in the cast credits whereas Turvey's did, though Mayall' name did appear in the writer's credits. Turvey struck a chord with the public and later appeared in his own one-off show - 'Kevin Turvey - The Man Behind The Green Door'. Rik was not the only one to benefit from the show though. Robbie Coltrane and the gorgeous Tracey Ullman also profited.
Richard Stilgoe appeared in between sketches delivering linking material, however this was dispensed with in series two when Stilgoe left and was replaced by Robbie Coltrane. The second series was shorter in length than the first, being reduced to four episodes rather than six.
Some of the sketches could be sick, such as an old woman being catapulted into the air and shot by a clay pigeon shooter. Another sketch saw a man showing his son how to commit suicide and in a later edition we saw a man ordering a drink from a vending machine which looks absolutely revolting. He takes a sip of it and his face registers distaste. Then we hear a toilet flushing and see liquidised human waste spewing out from the machine dispenser.
Robbie Coltrane and Tracey Ullman were particularly outstanding in their guises. Coltrane did a wonderful sketch as a disgruntled man who denounces those who criticise British Rail for their inefficiency and below-par buffet car food - ''I've been eating buffet car food for well on eighteen months now and I shall continue to eat buffet car food until my connection arrives!''. The applause from the studio audience spoke volumes of how popular British Rail were at that time. Tracey Ullman did a hilarious parody of the controversial Channel 4 show 'The Mini Pops' with a musical item entitled 'Knick Knack Paddy Wack' in which a group of dirty old men in grubby raincoats leered at her as she pranced around in suggestive clothing! Unsurprisingly, 'The Mini Pops' was axed not long after. It was Mayall's Kevin Turvey sketches what made the show so special though.
TURVEY: I went round to Teresa Kelly's house yesterday and her mum said she was out walking the dog. I know she was lying because their dog died in 1977 and I know that because its buried under the onions I grow in my garden. So how could she possibly have been walking the dog? Unless it's had puppies, but then I would have noticed that the onions would have been disturbed!
It would be unfair to give Rik, Robbie and Tracey all the credit though. Ron Bain, Roger Sloman and Miriam Margolyes were also great with what they were given. Some of Richard Stilgoe's linking items were undeniably hilarious.
Some of the sketches were a chore to sit through ( such as those featuring Coltrane as an incoherent Glasweigan thug - who allegedly 'Rab C. Nesbitt' was based on ) but overall they were well written for the most part.
Both series ran on UK Gold sometime in the early '90's but has not seen the light of day since. It's legacy lasted for years however, in the form of 'Laugh??? I Nearly Paid My Licence Fee' and 'Naked Video'.
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