Bringing the Pythonesque humour of cult Radio 4 series The Burkiss Way to television, this surreal, satirical soap show was the first TV series from multi-award-winning screenwriters Andrew Marshall and David Renwick.
Series One centres on Vera and Norman Straightman, a couple whose efforts to live a quiet life are constantly shattered by the unwelcome intrusions of guests from the world of television, while Series Two's combination of short, sharp sketches and inspired, mildly deranged slapstick prefigured Not the Nine o' Clock News, to which the writers would contribute; both afford ample opportunity to parody the style and content of late '70s television. Written by
Of all the surreal sketch shows that sprang up in the wake of 'Monty Python's Flying Circus', London Weekend's 'End Of Part One' was, in my view, the best. It only ran to two seasons, yet is fondly remembered by those fortunate enough to catch it at the time. Andrew Marshall and David Renwick's witty skits mocked not only popular programmes of the day, but also their presentation. Titles and theme tunes were parodied with astonishing accuracy. A good example is 'Nationtrite', based on the B.B.C.'s long running early evening show 'Nationwide'. 'Larry Grayson's Fat Ladies Embarrassment Game' was impossible to distinguish from its inspiration - 'Larry Grayson's Generation Game'. 'Doctor Eyes' mocked the Tom Baker era of 'Dr.Who' ( director Geoffrey Sax went on to helm the real thing in 1996 ). 'O*H*M*S' was 'M*A*S*H' starring the Royal Family. 'The British Bum Speech Awards' guyed the annual orgy of back-slapping known as B.A.F.T.A. ( the winner of the all-time bum performance was, unsurprisingly, Bernard Manning ). 'Cheapo Cartoon Man' was a marvellous mickey-take of Hanna Barbara animated superhero shows. The writers were not paying affectionate homage to their targets. In fact at times they could be quite vicious. 'Are You Being Stereotyped?' subverted the famous theme tune to Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft's department store sitcom, turning it into a scathing critique. 'The Hollywood Greats' ended with Barry Norman ( Fred Harris ) being murdered by the dead movie stars whose reputations he has sullied. Not all the sketches were about television. In 1930's Hollywood, a young make-up artist ( Tony Aitken ) completes his designs for the new Frankenstein movie, and finds the studio executives closely resemble the monster. A send up of Tory Party Political Broadcasts was bang on the money, with its patronising depicting of the opposition as apes ( the real ones of the time were even more absurd, with bowler-hatted men marching backwards across Westminister Bridge )!
The cast were outstanding, particularly David Simeon ( his Enoch Powell was spot-on! ) and Sue Holderness ( who took off Sue Lawley and Isla St.Clair to perfection ). Also impressive were Denise Coffey and the late Dudley Stevens. The first season featured recurring characters 'Vera Straightman' ( Coffey ) and her husband 'Norman' ( Aitken ), a dreary couple indeed. They were barely seen in the second, however. 'End Of Part One' was hilarious, often brilliant, and deserved a longer run, but alas was sabotaged by bad scheduling. London Weekend Television hid it away on Sunday afternoons when its target audience was least likely to find it. The writers made their displeasure public in the listings published in 'T.V. Times'; 'the award-losing show returns at a time when no-one will see it anyway'. Although no third season appeared, they stayed with L.W.T. for their next two - equally superb - shows: 'Whoops Apocalypse' and 'Hot Metal'.
In 2012, Network finally released both seasons on D.V.D.
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