Little Britain: The Complete Third Series

I’m a huge fan of Little Britain. It’s the best British sketch show, arguably the best sketch show period, since Monty Python’s Flying Circus. What Matt Lucas and David Walliams have constructed over the course of the show’s three seasons (not to mention the original BBC radio show where it all began) is original, risqué and biting comedy that never knows when to stop. Little Britain has made such an impact that not only is HBO apparently producing an American version (Little America?) for next year but there is also a film version and a videogame for the PS2 currently in development. No doubt the duo have been busy but sadly it’s becoming apparent, as cracks are beginning to show in this third series. Utilising observational humour based on the UK’s colourful population, Walliams and Lucas are finding easier targets and becoming increasingly offensive with their attacks. Hitting every sensitive spot from the disabled, elderly and obese to racial prejudice, nothing’s out of bounds. Personally, I have no qualms, but it’s been a focus in the press as complaints have been made. Instead, my beef is with the flogging of the same jokes involving Fat Fighters, Daffyd "the only gay in the village” Thomas and Vicky Pollard, who lost her slapper charm after the first season. (Imelda Staunton’s guest appearance gave Lou and Andy another lease on life.) Little Britain knows how to progress — Ting Tong Macadangdang’s web of lies, Desiree’s hefty battle with Bubbles, Sid Pegg’s militant neighbourhood watch campaign and Mrs. Emery’s bladder problem are all currently a laugh — but it needs to let go of the dead weight holding it back from regaining its initial lure. Deleted scenes are excessive and actually decent, giving shyster hypnotist Kenny Craig another shot, though not a major one. The South Bank Show Special intimately looks at the pair working on their characters both on the set and in Walliams’ apartment. Such a candid meeting of minds reveals a couple of normal, relaxed guys sharing their wildest ideas about exploiting the country’s diverse cultures. As they admit, doing press in other countries and learning the outsider’s opinion of the show only confirm their prejudices. A Top Gear appearance by Walliams, meanwhile, puts the show’s pretentious host Jeremy Clarkson in his place, while proving that the comedian is a decent driver. Nice. Plus: Rob Brydon interview, Richard and Judy interview, "Heresy” radio show with David Baddiel, commentaries, live trailer. (BBC)