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An entertaining history of the comedy sketch in the UK

Author: Niki-22 from West Midlands, UK
23 February 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Victoria Wood's 2-part documentary traces the history of the sketch from its early days as part of the variety/music hall entertainment to the TV sketch shows of the 21st century. Charting the growing sophistication of the style and its audience - from physical comedy and catchphrases to the multi-layered reference-laden sketches of today, this takes in all the classic British sketches you can think of and a few more besides (but see SPOILER alert below). It assesses how changes in attitudes within society concerning women, minority ethnic communities, and sexuality have been reflected (or more often not) by the genre. The clips and commentary are linked by Victoria Wood in new, specially-written sketches.

SPOILER: You may wish to watch this programme to see how your favourite sketch actor/writer fares in the 'place in history' status. If you were expecting the sophisticated historical and religious-based sketches of Dave Allen, prepare to be disappointed (as I was) at the programme's apparent ignorance of his talents. Although the rest of the programme is well worth watching, the exclusion of Dave Allen's work leaves the programme lacking from the 'definitive' history it seeks to be.

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