The Liverpool-based Boswell family are experts at exploiting the system to get by in life. Despite the fact that none of the Boswells are officially employed, they manage to live a fairly ... See full summary »
Arkwright is a tight-fisted shop owner in Doncaster, who will stop at nothing to keep his profits high and his overheads low, even if this means harassing his nephew Granville. Arkwright's ... See full summary »
The series followed the wavering relationship between two ex-lovers, Penny Warrender, a secretary for an advertising firm, and Vincent Pinner, an ex ice cream salesman turned turf ... See full summary »
Along with Smith & Jones, Gareth Hale and Norman Pace made up the other popular British comedy duo to brighten our screens in the nineties. They spent less time on satirising the big issues and more on sexual innuendos and dirty jokes than S & J, with the kind of sniggering enthusiasm that has always been the English approach to toilet humour. Not surprisingly, their regular characters included two imbecilic teenagers with penchant for sadomasochistic pranks, and a pair of so-nice-you-just-wanna-puke children's show hosts who dropped outlandish double entendres with smiling innocence. They also had something of a gangster fetish, best realised in the two Rons, a pair of stone-faced cockney hoods in black tie who had a firm faith in the compatibility of electrodes and testicles. They shamelessly drew and played on the boorish, sexist and national chauvinistic mentality so loved by the British tabloid press and still too often prevalent when dealing with anything or anyone across the Channel, but never really succumbed to endorsing it without that tongue on the cheek. They always were a bit too clever and a bit too juvenile for that.
Interestingly, Hale & Pace also shone in the obligatory musical numbers that closed their shows, producing a few classics such as the Chris Rea parody "The Voice from Hell"; the Scottish rap duo McHammer (probably not a joke anymore); a country and western song about the singer's Dad, who was a Nazi transvestite, "a goose-stepping man of the night"; and one Godley&Creme-style video that took all the sloppy metaphors in the song's lyrics just a bit too literally. Often these are the most perfunctory parts of a sketch show, but they had enough hits to warrant the one all-music special that combined the best of their singing career.
There is of course only so many ways you can crack a joke about the French, premature ejaculation or the oafishness of anyone with a regional accent, and Hale & Pace eventually started to lose their potency. But their best skits still hold up today, smutty but clever, liberatingly funny in their incorrectness and their vigorously exploited stereotypes.
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