Tuesday, February 10, 2009


The High Life #1

Yesterday, Caron revealed the horror of Alex Salmond’s attempt a Scottish independent Eurovision entry. Tonight, instead, you can see the proper Scottish entry on BBC4 at 9pm (well, probably more like 9.25, as it’s the climax of the show). And unlike Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s postmodern ‘Please let me win’ song, Pif Paf Pof is a proper Eurovision song about shagging. The High Life was perhaps the Nineties’ finest sit-com, and tonight it’s Dug, one of the finest episodes – Alan Cumming shooting to stardom, Forbes Masson somehow not, Siobhan Redmond and Patrick Ryecart showing just how very funny they can be.

Alan Cumming is Air Scotia trolley dolly Sebastian Flight with Forbes Masson Steve, his partner in crime and Siobhan Redmond their ferocious chief stewardess, Shona Spurtle. They’re all brilliant, though for me the show’s persistently stolen by Patrick Ryecart as posh but probably still Sixties drug-addled pilot Captain Hilary Duff (no, really. You’ve no idea how difficult I find it to listen to the later one). Tonight mixes pop fame, giant dog costumes and Shona’s unhappy love life to spectacular effect. Being a sit-com, albeit a more than slightly off-the-wall one in which (for example) Captain Duff’s occasional Star Trek delusions give him the ability to teleport, of course everyone is unhappy in love. Shona, Steve, Captain Duff… But, in one of the few aspects that dates the series, not Sebastian. Yes, the flamboyant and blatantly gay lead character is said to be “celibate”. As if. Still, though he may sympathise with Steve’s doomed attempts at female companionship, we all know they’re shagging.

There are only two episodes to go in the BBC4 repeat season, so do yourself a favour and pick up the DVD to see Winch, the third of the six episodes made; probably my favourite, and probably the cheapest. With hardly any speaking cast barring the four regulars, it has the time to let them all let rip. There’s an obvious secret just waiting to explode; an unreliable narrator supplying a memorable version of Love Is the Drug; and Shona finally – she thinks – getting the ammunition to take Sebastian down:
“Themed breakfasts, my Auntie Arse. I will have you over a barrel!”

“You will have to chloroform me first.”

“Silence, you insolent toe-rag. You are a waster, Sebastian. You are a lying cheat. You are a fibster, a fabulist, an equivocating shim-shammer, a cozening card sharp, a pathological mythomaniac, a yarner, a poulterer – who perjures – a whited sepulchre, a cantering serpent, a rat!”
It’s so unfair, then, that the show’s stolen in the final seconds of the episode and the flight by Captain Duff emerging from the in-flight loo with his usual affable, slightly disorientated beneficence and the inspired closing line:
“Have we landed yet? [Pause] Oh bugger!”
There’s still the most surreal of the lot to come next week, as Molly Weir, Batman, an Avengers villain and delicious tablet combine in Dunk. Oh, dearie me! In the meantime, here is tonight’s main event – Pif Paf Pof

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Good call! So annoyed it isn't on iPlayer, will have to wait 'till May for the DVDs.
Hey, that duet was still less excreable than John Ashcroft's "Let The Eagle Soar".
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