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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 October, 2004, 08:46 GMT 09:46 UK
DVD review: Little Britain
By William Gallagher
BBC News Online

Little Britain
Little Britain has been a hit on BBC Three

It's a week for television comedy on DVD but the one that will break sales records - and deservedly so - is the first series of the tremendous Little Britain.

Born of Radio 4, it managed the leap to television even better than Dead Ringers and launched whole phrases into the language: "Yeah but, no but..."

The core of the DVD is the set of eight episodes and they'd be enough.

But we also get deleted scenes, some of which you wonder why they were cut, and short clips of stars David Walliams and Matt Lucas's earlier work.

The best of those is the brilliantly made Rock Profile spoofs that still pop up late at night on VH1.

Ripping Yarns

Many readers have emailed about this release since it was announced a few months ago. Half of readers said they were looking forward to it but the other half said it was out ages ago.

Ripping Yarns
Ripping Yarns was screened in the late 1970s

But not like this, it wasn't. This is the complete set of the Michael Palin and Terry Jones spoofs of schoolboy heroics and stiff-jawed bravery.

Tomkinson's Schooldays, Escape from Stalag Luft 112B, Across the Andes By Frog, the famous tales are all here and all as funny as you remember.

Plus Palin and Jones provide very enthusiastic commentaries.

There's also a documentary profile of Michael Palin in which he interviews lots of people but rarely lets them get a word in.

For fans, the greatest extra is Secrets - a 1973 comedy by the same people. It's in appalling picture quality but is the sole extant copy.

Arrested Development

Are you hooked yet? Wednesday nights on BBC Two and BBC Four have early episodes of this new US comedy but now you can import the whole first season.

Jason Bateman stars as the one almost sane member of a family of incredibly self-obsessed people, the Bluth family, who are now in hot water.

It's not to everyone's taste but if it works for you, you cannot stop yourself evangelising about the show.

The set has 22 episodes, a short documentary and very good commentaries

It also boasts an extended version of the pilot episode: it's about seven minutes longer and while it's funny, the bonus is really in seeing how brilliant the editing of the show is.

Comparing the two versions, you see some entire scenes that are different but most of the changes have been made with such subtlety that they would go unnoticed if you were not looking out for them.

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