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Wednesday, 16 May, 2001, 14:18 GMT 15:18 UK
My top TV: Chris Langham
Chris Langham
Langham as 'broadcaster's broadcaster' Roy Mallard
Performer Chris Langham reveals his favourite TV shows for BBC News Online.

Writer and performer Chris Langham has worked in radio, TV and on stage.

He has been honoured at the Sony Radio Awards and British Comedy Awards, and by the Writers' Guild of America for co-writing The Muppet Show from 1977 to 1980.

On BBC TV he has written for Not The Nine O'Clock News, Murder Most Horrid and Spike Milligan's Q6, among many others.

His People Like Us made a successful transition from radio to TV and features Langham as 'the broadcaster's broadcaster' Roy Mallard, in a series of beautifully observed spoof documentaries.

Langham spoke to BBC News Online about his top TV choices.

What TV shows made you laugh most when you were a child ?

Very early on it was radio, particularly the Goon Show - and it was fantastic late in life to find myself writing Spike Milligan's TV shows.

There was a freedom and intellectual restlessness about the Goons' humour that was very liberating and exciting.

It had other assets - like Peter Sellers.

Then obviously Monty Python, and Marty Feldman's stuff like At Last the 1948 Show.

When was the last time you cried while watching television?

The truthful answer is that it was when we were dubbing the links onto the 'vicar' episode for the coming series of People Like Us.

It's a great credit to writer John Morton's style that he doesn't write characters that you despise, but the vicar is obviously quite a sad person.

I was sitting in the voiceover booth and in that scene when he says, 'You know when I was a student and I had this burning desire to go into the church' - and my character says 'Yes' - the vicar says, 'I think it was a phase - it would have passed.'

And I brimmed, because I think it was so underplayed and moving.

Which TV comedy character do you wish you had created and why?

Well, I wish I'd created Mr Bean, because then I'd be rich!

But it's sort of like saying, would you like to be somebody else?

A character like Blackadder is so much a fusion of what's best about Rowan Atkinson, and the writers Ben Elton and Richard Curtis - so to wish I'd created Blackadder is like saying I wish I was those three people.

Is there anything on TV at the moment that you can't bear to miss and have to set the video for?

The next Leeds match.

How many TVs do you have in your house? Where are they?

Two TV's - actually three, but one of them I had to cut the plug off for the espresso machine in the kitchen.

In People Like Us you are the documentary-maker behind the camera. Is this something you've always wanted to do?

When I was younger I was writing features for Time Out and I interviewed Fred Wiseman, who was notorious for doing these long documentaries, usually about institutions and he'd spend months there and he'd amass hundred of hours of material.

It was said he exerted no editorial control, but when I interviewed him he said that was untrue - because every cut and every edit, every choice you make is an enormous editorial decision.

And I thought what a fantastic palette to have, from which to choose your colours and make your statement.

But, though I was interested in that, the short answer is no.

Will your character - Roy Mallard - feature more in front of the camera in the new series?

Chris Langham
Roy Mallard: drifting into shot occasionally
We are aware that there is a sad sub-section of the viewing audience who are great fanatics of the show and who have spotted where sometimes Roy had inadvertently drifted into shot or maybe been caught in a reflection in a window.

Knowing that these people exist we do drop in a few of these, like a hand reaching for a biscuit, a leg, and an inadvertent profile shot - to satisfy those members of the audience who like to keep a track of these things!

What other projects - on TV or elsewhere - are you looking forward to?

I'm doing a series of one-off half hours for BBC Choice, a series of comedy chillers, funny but sinister.

People Like Us starts 10 May 22.15 BST on BBC Two

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