Every now and then something comes along which hits you in the face like a wet flannel. I caught 'Canned Laughter' on its original I.T.V. transmission in 1979, following a showing of 'Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes'. Not having heard of Mr.Atkinson, I wasn't sure what to expect. Thirty minutes later, my sides ached from laughing too much. I spent the next few days telling all and sundry about this strange rubber-faced man whom was clearly destined to be the next Peter Sellers. Atkinson played three roles; the nerdy Robert Box, his sinister boss Mr.Marshall, and would-be stand-up comic Dave Perry. Box has somehow gotten the most attractive girl in his office, Lorraine ( played by the lovely Sue Holderness ) to agree to a date, and, being a right twit, messes it up. Box was clearly the inspiration for 'Mr.Bean'. Despite its excellence, 'Canned Laughter' strangely never became a series, leaving Rowan free to do 'Not The 9 O'Clock News' for the B.B.C.
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