It’s hard to really know what influenced you in life. What makes you the person that you are. My Father was a big influence on my sence of humour and my outlook on things. After he died in 1981 I had to find other role models. The 1981 Ipswich Town team taught me that every dog has its day and that day is May 6th!
I spent a lot of time watching television but for the most part it seemed bland and uninteresting. I was 12 and wanted something that stood out. Up till now it was Benny Hill, Paul Daniels magic shows, Variety shows involving some duff pop act of the day. It was also that time of your life at school where you had to fit in. Or appear to fit in!
I was not the cool kid.
I was quiet, respectful and if I had half the chance would have set fire to something. That is why on November 9th 1982 at 9pm on BBC 2 the universe came into alignment and the perfect television show for me came on.
This show was different. I couldn’t put my finger on it. It wasn’t until the greatest entrance of any T.V. character ever that I realised what it was. Anarchy! When Vyvyan (Ade Edmondson) came crashing through the wall holding a leg that he had got from the mortuary that I knew I had found my show. This show had everything. Hippies, cool people, wanna be cool people a punk, rats eating each other (it’s what he would have wanted!) it even had music. I was hooked instantly and couldn’t wait to go to school the next day and talk about it.
“Did you see the Young Ones last night?” a question I asked all day. Every person I knew at Howard Middle School got asked. And to a man they all said no and looked at me quizzically until I explained what it was. The only other person I found who had seen the show the previous night was Chris Moore. It was a great moment being able to talk to someone about something that nobody else had a clue about. For once I was the cool kid. Others listened in as we laughed and talked about how funny it was. It was a glorious day and remember it quite clearly! The following week was different though. Instead of it just being Chris and me talking about it. The whole school was a-buzz with the antics of Neil (Nigel Planer), Vyvyan, Rick (Rik Mayall), Mike (Chris Ryan) and the various characters of Alexi Sayle. No one seemed to remember that I saw it first, I was the cool kid who was in from the beginning? These Johnny come latelys were stealing my cool. And then my cool was gone, not to return for some time!
The show written by Ben Elton, Lise Mayer and Rik Mayall was an instant classic. Much like the Monty Python of old, it was a trend setter. It was a sit-com like no other and it captured an image of the early 80s extremely well. Unemployment was high, not that I cared I was still in school, and most people were in need of a good laugh. It came out of nowhere at just the right time. It’s hard to pick a favorite episode because they were all so good. Flood was brilliant, as was Nasty. Each show had its great moments that the kids would quote over and over. I can still remember kids being asked to do something by a teacher and saying “I can’t because there’s an atom bomb in front of the fridge.” Everyone had a character they could identify with. I think if I had to say I think I’d have been the Rick of the group. trying to fit in but failing at every attempt.
One of the funniest episodes was entitled sick. And it was from beginning to end. From the first snot covered scene to the violent riot and the WTF ending it was what every schoolboy wanted. Gross humour that made your ribs hurt from laughing so much. I still today when someone asks me a dumb question reply with “What fish?” I get a funny look but it makes me giggle.
It wasn’t until the second series came out that I had that most wonderful of things. A video tape recorder. I had all the episodes on tape, which I watched over and over until I had them memorised!
The Young One was always designed to shock. That was the nature of the beast, and the final episode was no different. Summer Holiday was the title of the episode and saw the characters evicted and living on the streets, turn into bank robbers and then crash a stolen bus off of a cliff. Only to explode at the bottom. I watched in horror as the cast I’d come to adore were blown up. I was in shock, I really was in shock. How could they do this to me! How could they end the series like this. Little did I know then, that was the end of the show totally. I always hoped for a return of the characters, but it never happened.
Of course I had to buy the book when it came out. I seem to remember a line in there from Neil about “if he saved up all the bogies that had ever came out of his nose, he’d never get them all back up there!” And being actors the cast came back for several different money-making opportunities for charity in some cases. The first Comic Relief was a big event and The Young Ones teamed up with Cliff Richard and Hank Marvin to release their version of Living Doll. It even reached number one on the charts on the 20th of March 1986 and it stayed there for three weeks. The video was great and I still remember the fact that when Ade Edmondson had to record his part they stuck him in another room because he was too loud. “locking girls in trunks is politically unsound – Rick.” The B-side of the single was a great little piece call All The Little Flowers. And if you’ve heard it then you should be smiling because it made me laugh just thinking about it.
There was a dodgy computer game that came out too, though I never played it. And Filthy, Rich and Catflap came out a year or so later, which I loved, but apparently the BBC didn’t. Thank heavens for Bottom. Proof that irreverent TV never died. Theres not much that competes with those shows, though The Inbetweeners certainly comes close.
Every now and then I put the Young Ones DVD In. Still miffed that the American version cut out the version of Subterranean Homesick Blues great song. But I still laugh.
“you woman, you shall be ships cook and concubine,”
“Oh yeah? whats a concubine?”
“its a small spiky mammal.”
“that’s a hedgehog.”
“in that case you shall be ships cook and hedgehog.”