Saturday 20 September 2008

Prostitution and anthropology

Last night, in the spirit of anthropological discovery, I decided to watch an entire episode of Two Pints of Lager and A Packet of Crisps. Readers in the UK (and I'm assuming that's pretty much all of you, but still) will be well aware of how easy a task this is, to begin with at least. Watching Two Pints is like shooting fish in a fucking barrel. Every night of the year you can guarantee at least two episodes will be shown on Freeview digital broadcasts, the most basic and commonly available British digital service. So there's no DVD buying, sly recording or immoral downloading to be done. In fact, the hardest thing is to get through a night's viewing without seeing Ralph Little's gurning Alice the Goon face.

Now, for those of you lucky enough to have achieved this, it should be mentioned at this early stage that Two Pints is absolutely appalling and without any discernable positive aspect. It's ubiquity on British television cannot be explained other than by my assumption that it's cheap to make. Yet, during the course of researching this rant, I discovered there have only been 63 episodes. If I'd been asked to guess, I'd have gone for 730, making two for every night of the fucking year. Either that or one, because every episode is the same. Perhaps part of its economic viability comes from the fact every episode uses the same script (although, one of the show's GIMMICKS is that the word "fuck" is spoken once per series, in the last episode. For example, 'thank fuck for that'). This said, the concept of series-based TV is rather lost by the BBC's blanket scheduling policy for the programme.

The other fascinating thing for me was to find out about the woman who writes this filth, Susan Nickson. I've seen this woman's name written down so very many times thanks to this programme's grinding inevitability that I honestly believe I only see Queen Elizabeth II's likeness more during an average day. And that's just because she's on the stamps. Yet, despite this, I know next to nothing about her. Apart from the fact she can't write TV comedy for SHIT. That link at the start of this paragraph, for example, contains a photograph of her which represents the first time I've seen her mush. Well, what I have discovered is that she's been groomed for this business since she won a competition aged 14, and began writing Two Pints aged 18. She was born, therefore, in 1982, making her 2 years younger than me. For heaven's sake.

The BBC do not share my rather negative view. Aside from the fact that they repeatedly recommission series of this hoop, Nickson has also produced (ostensibly following a request from people who make TV programmes happen) one other series for the Beeb - Grownups - which was also terrible. I also assume she has a hand in the upcoming BBC 3 series which (for some reason) trumpets proudly the credit "from the makers of Two Pints!". Sadly, I can't remember the name of this, and can't be bothered to look. So I will assume it's called Crap Salad.

But here's my question. I read the credits at the end with something approaching a gimlet eye. There are some big hitters in there. Ralph Little has been in all sorts of things, a lot of them critically acclaimed. The two ratbags who were in Hollyoaks can at least point to the fact they were in Hollyoaks before it turned shite. And the series is directed by Gareth Carrivick, who was the hand behind much of Lee and Herring's BBC output during the 1990s, as well as The Smoking Room and producing episodes of A Bit of Fry and Laurie. Surely, a man who has spent a large part of his professional career in and around TV comedy must realise that what he's doing is bloody terrible. I am horrified by the fact that these people must have all just have turned off the part of their brain which is - with the wonderful opportunity and forum they have been given - endorphin-fuelled by the prospect of leaving a wonderful creative legacy, and instead just focus on raking in the pay cheques. It troubles me. Possibly because it's a glimpse into my future.

By the way, I almost watched the entire episode, but I couldn't quite make it. Sorry.


Matt Round said...

I also once tried to watch an entire episode.

I failed.

G said...

It's the worst thing on the TV. And that's a shame, because I rather liked Ralph Little in the Royal Family, and in 24 Hour Party People.

Alistair Coleman said...


1. Two Pints is indeed incredibly cheap to make, even by usual sitcom standards

and more importantly:

2. The programme was commissioned with a £0.00 repeat fee for the artists and writers. Every time it is repeated, the artists get the square root of bugger all.

So there.

Alistair Coleman said...


I have never seen a full episode of Two Pints, and neither have I seen a full episode of Friends, and my life is all the better for it.

dotmund said...

Those facts are highly interesting, duck. Especially the repeat fees one. Allow me a brief moment's giddy laughter.

a ha ha ha-ha-ha, take that, Will Mellor.


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