1 9 8 7 – 1 9 9 1 (UK)
35 x 30 minute episodes
This series – introduced by the BBC with the ominous words “it’s time for summer fun” – was a puzzle.
It had a “young” cast and eight writers who essentially presented a chain of short blackout sketches. Yet due to the fast-changing nature of television and club variety, it came over as old-fashioned and bitty. Probably all right for an instant laugh but like candy floss, it disappeared in a second and was immediately forgotten.
Given that the very word impressionist – due to overkill by a score of shows such as Copy Cats and Who Do You Do? – heralded switch-off time, Les Dennis (now a solo act since the death of Dustin Gee) wisely steered away from impressions and towards comedy characters.
But Dennis needed high-quality support around him and with the possible exception of bubbly Lisa Maxwell he didn’t get it. Magician Martin Daniels was no personality rival to his Dad or Wayne Dobson, and any stand-up comedian like Johnny Martin who talked about “fillums” was carrying a regional handicap.
Full marks, however, for Lisa, who well deserved her extended spot as a Judith Chalmers doing Wish You Were Dead in a holiday report from Eastern Europe: A sunken oil tanker meant the bay was polluted, the rebels were shooting down planes and firing indiscriminately, there was radiation along the beaches, and you had to watch out for the quicksands.
Guests who appeared on the show over five seasons included Brian Glover, George Layton, Burt Kwouk, Roy Hudd, Ed Bishop, Eamonn Walker, Gorden Kaye, Shane Richie, Mike Reid, John Junkin, and Sherrie Hewson.