1 9 8 4 – 1 9 8 8 (UK)
43 x 30 minute episodes
1 x 60 minute special
Debuting on 31 January 1984, this clever comedy sketch series with Mel Smith (son of a betting shop owner) and Griff Rhys Jones (son of a doctor) basically picked up where they left off on Not the Nine O’clock News.
Mimicking the title of the 1970s Western series starring Pete Duel and Ben Murphy, the programme was written by Smith and Jones, Clive Anderson, Rob Grant and Doug Naylor (creators of Red Dwarf). The 40-minute 1988 Christmas special was called Alas Sage and Onion.
In 1988 the duo produced The World According To Smith and Jones for LWT, returning to the BBC for Smith and Jones In Small Doses and Smith and Jones (1990-1995). The latter was in the same format as Alas… but the quality declined.
The series – which started on BBC2 but transferred to BBC1 – is probably best remembered for the ”head-to-head” scenes where the idiotic Smith attempted to explain something straightforward to the even dimmer Jones:
Mel: I think I might emigrate to Australia
Griff: Oh no, don’t do that, mate, don’t do that.
Mel: But it’s a beautiful country . . .You can tell that when you’re watching all the films and everything, can’t you? What’s that one with all the wild animals in the outback, what’s it called? . . . “Dingo’s ate my baby” . . . you know, it was in Australia, what was it called? . . er . . . Meryl Streep was in it . . .
Griff: Out of Africa?
Mel: That’s the one, yeah
An attempt to revive Alas Smith and Jones was made in 1998. Mel Smith died in 2013.