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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 November, 2004, 14:51 GMT
The Office v Little Britain
Little Britain and The Office will be competing against each other at the British Comedy Awards. The shows share similarities and differences but both have been hailed for pushing the boundaries of comedy.


The Office

The Office was set in the offices of a paper merchants in Slough and focused on manager David Brent and his "unique" way of managing his staff.

Brent sees himself as a friend and entertainer as well as a boss, although his colleagues wouldn't necessarily agree.
Much of the humour comes from the awkward and embarrassing situations rather than witty punchlines.

It started in July 2001 and ran for two series and two Christmas specials.

Little Britain

Little Britain started life as a radio show but transferred to TV in February 2003 on the fledgling BBC Three channel.

It features a number of oddball characters from around the UK including teenage tearaway Vicky Pollard, Daffyd - the only gay in the village - and Marjorie Dawes, the overweight and tactless leader of weight-loss group Fat Fighters.

Former Doctor Who actor Tom Baker narrates the show, illuminating untrue oddities of life in Britain with lines such as: "As the sun sets in southern Britain, those in the north are just waking up."

CREATORS

Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant are the brains behind The Office. Merchant is content to let Gervais steal the limelight as David Brent although they are credited as co-writers. Merchant has appeared in an episode of The Office in fancy dress as the Oggmonster.

Gervais' first try at fame was in the band Seona Dancing. He then went on to manage bands including Suede.

He made his TV breakthrough on The 11 O'Clock show and had a short-lived chat show.

Matt Lucas and David Walliams are the men behind Little Britain, acting, writing and producing the show.

Matt Lucas was known to UK viewers as grown-up baby George Dawes on Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer's comedy quiz show Shooting Stars.

The duo also had successs with their Rock Profiles spoof series, where they played outrageous versions of stars including Take That's Gary Barlow and Jason Orange. And Walliams quietly carved out an acting career before Little Britain really made his name.

MEMORABLE QUOTES

David: In fact, a postage stamp is legal tender. A bus driver would have to accept that as currency.
Tim: Yeah, that'd happen.
David: Well, if he doesn't, report him.
Tim: Yeah, I'll report him while I'm walking home.
Gareth: Get a taxi, if you've got enough stamps.
Dawn: Or cash 'em in at the Post Office.
David: Shouldn't have to. Shouldn't have to.

David: "Well, there's good news and bad news. The bad news is that Neil will be taking over both branches, and some of you will lose your jobs. Those of you who are kept on will have to relocate to Swindon, if you wanna stay. I know, gutting. On a more positive note, the good news is, I've been promoted, so - every cloud... You're still thinking about the bad news aren't you?"

Social worker: All I want to know Vicky is where is your baby is?
Vicky Pollard: Oh, I swapped it for a Westlife CD.
Social worker: Oh my God, how could you.
Vicky Pollard: I know, they're rubbish.

Snippets of wisdom from Fat Fighters' Majorie Dawes:
"Picture yourself naked - not nice is it, eh? Who the hell would want a great lump?"

"Dust... it's actually very low in fat so you can eat as much dust as you like."

Pippa and Gordana, young mothers discussing babies' names:

So how old is yours now? Sewage, oh she's nearly 20 months. And yours? Well Hip Replacement's nearly two and Roadkill's 14 months.

ICONIC SCENES

David Brent's office dancing during the Children in Need charity event has gone down in comedy history.

The Christmas special started with the pop video Brent recorded with his redundancy money. There were calls for the song, If You Don't Know Me By Now, to be released as a real record, but Gervais refused.

Some of the characters' catchphrases in Little Britain have already caught on such as "yeah, but, no, but," as uttered by Vicky Pollard.

Daffyd's catchphrase of "I'm the only gay in the village" and other near-the-knuckle lines have also been a hit with fans.

The Office and its star Gervais have picked up a host of awards including Baftas for Gervais and best comedy sitcom three years in a row. Gervais has also won two British Comedy Awards.

One of its biggest surprise wins was the show's two Golden Globe Awards in 2004, cementing its international reputation.

Little Britain has attained a number of awards in its relatively short life on TV. Lucas and Walliams won best comedy performers at the Royal Television Society awards in 2004, while Walliams picked up a British Comedy Awards newcomer title last year.

THE FUTURE

The Office ended after two series and a Christmas special, with Gervais adamant it would not return. There have been rumours of a spin-off featuring the characters Lucy and Tim.

It was such a hit with US critics that an American version was produced, although early indications from its pilot episode indicate it has not been a success.

The second series of Little Britain is still being aired on BBC Three and there is already talk of a third being made.

The second series will transfer to BBC One for the first time, although some material will be cut to appeal to a mainstream audience.

Little Britain is available to US viewers via BBC America, but its uniquely British characters have yet to be embraced by a wider audience.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Matt Lucas and David Walliams on their success



SEE ALSO:
Little Britain faces award battle
10 Nov 04 |  Entertainment


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