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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 December, 2004, 00:17 GMT
Little Britain: From cult to classic
Andy and Lou
Andy and Lou are popular characters in the series
Little Britain has won two prizes at the Bafta TV Awards - confirming its leap from cult show to classic UK comedy.

In its first series, Little Britain went from cult cool - thanks to those digitally-converted viewers catching it on BBC Three - to the kind of quotable success that comedy classics are made of.

In the space of eight episodes, it introduced a strange, twilight Britain made up of half-hearted transvestites, naive carers, lazy romantic novelists, and children's show presenters turned bitter staffers at DIY warehouses.

It made stars of Matt Lucas - who appeared as overgrown baby George Dawes on BBC Two quiz Shooting Stars - and David Walliams, previously seen on the comedy-drama Attachments and spoof show Rock Profiles, alongside Lucas.

And its second series, which began in October 2004, achieved record ratings of 1.8 million viewers on BBC Three before truly moving into the mainstream on BBC One.

Classic sketches

But it had to be re-edited, with graphic references - including those made in Daffyd's "the only gay in the village" sketches - deemed unsuitable for BBC One.

Little Britain began on BBC Radio 4 in 2000, with Walliams and Lucas playing a range of characters - from an alternative Britain peopled, it seemed, by an ever-increasing cast of misfits.

The show had classic sketches such as builders going through plans with a wicked witch for her gingerbread house, the bizarre teacher at the Kelsey Grammar School for boys and the verbal diarrhoea of work-shy schoolgirl Vicky Pollard.

LITTLE BRITAIN CATCHPHRASES
Vicky Pollard
"Yeah but no but yeah but" - Vicki
"It's so hard being the only gay in the village" - Daffyd
"I want that one" - Andy
"I'm a lady. I do ladies' things" - Emily Howard
"Write the theme tune, sing the theme tune" - Miniature Dennis Waterman

It borrowed as much from the dark modern tradition of comedies such as The League of Gentlemen as the traditional sketch format of recurring characters.

The links between these unsavoury characters were a barrage of even more surreal made-up facts voiced in the fruity baritone of former Doctor Who Tom Baker.

Two series of the show were broadcast on Radio 4 and fans included Father Ted creator Graham Linehan, who urged the pair to make a TV version.

A pilot for the first series was shown on the opening night on BBC Three in 2003, with a full series soon following.

The programme soon became a hit and gave Lucas and Walliams their due credit after almost a decade honing their comedy talent.

The catchphrases of their grotesque characters - from deranged Scottish hoteliers to council lads falling in love with their friends' nans - soon echoed round offices, pubs and schools.

As the digital audience mushroomed with the rise in sales of Freeview boxes, Little Britain became one of the BBC's worst-kept digital secrets, before making its terrestrial debut.


SEE ALSO:
Little Britain wins Bafta double
17 Apr 05 |  Entertainment
In pictures: Bafta TV Awards 2005
17 Apr 05 |  In Pictures
Bafta TV Awards 2005: The winners
17 Apr 05 |  Entertainment
Little Britain tops sketch poll
03 Apr 05 |  Entertainment
Little Britain DVD breaks record
18 Feb 05 |  Entertainment
Little Britain phrase tops vote
17 Apr 05 |  Entertainment


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