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EDITIONS
Friday, 29 November, 2002, 18:02 GMT
You think Norfolk's got problems...
Alan Partridge has put Norfolk on the map - but for all the wrong reasons, say proud locals. Yet TV comedy has made a mockery of many unsuspecting British towns.

Hapless DJ Alan Partridge may only exist in the mind of comic Steve Coogan but he has stirred a very real backlash in the east of England.

Councillors in Norfolk believe the comically crass presenter, who hosts a late-night show on the entirely fictional Radio Norwich, has brought ridicule to the county.

The council will debate claims the BBC show I'm Alan Partridge portrays Norfolk as a "backwater populated by yokels".

Yet Norfolk is not alone in feeling the sting of television comedy.

Torquay - once fondly known as the "Queen of the English Riviera", Torquay's reputation nosedived when Fawlty Towers was first screened in 1975.

Fawlty Towers
Check out any time you like, but you can never leave...
The series undermined the popular view of Torquay as a quiet and refined corner of the England's south coast.

But these days the local tourist office will direct pilgrims of the programme to the Gleneagles Hotel in Asheldon Road, which is said to have inspired the series.

Staines - home to streetwise babe-magnet and rapper Ali G, Staines is one of those towns with a reputation for over-arching blandness. While Ali, a member of the West Staines Massive, may portray it as the UK's answer to South Central Los Angeles, the commuter town is probably more notable for its "drive-thru" burger joint than drive-by shootings.

Only Fools and Horses
Not exactly Millionaires' Row
Peckham - this inner-city part of south London has become synonymous with the hapless adventures of market traders Del Boy and Rodney of Only Fools and Horses. The brothers live in a council flat in a tower block called Nelson Mandela House and are regulars at the local markets. Peckham enjoyed a second bite of the cherry as home to the Channel 4 comedy Desmonds.

East Cheam - one of the most famous addresses in comedy is 23 Railway Cuttings, East Cheam, fictional home to the late entertainer Tony Hancock. Through Hancock's shows, this tranquil suburb in south-west London became a comic symbol of small-town England and its small-time concerns.

Hancock
Life in East Cheam brings Tony Hancock down
Surbiton - just a short Volvo drive from East Cheam is Surbiton. In the 1970s, this slice of stock-broker belt became synonymous with Jerry and Margot Leadbetter and Tom and Barbara Good, of BBC's The Good Life. In this notoriously conservative neck of the woods, Tom and Barbara's desire to lead an alternative life was widely frowned upon by the golf-loving locals.

Liverpool - spotlighted in the 1960s as the centre of the Universe, by the 70s and 80s Liverpool had become the butt of comedy series such as the Liver Birds and Bread. Scousers - natives of the city - were mocked as being dizzy, work-shy, dole-fiddlers. Then came Harry Enfield be-permed, shell-suited Brookside parodies.

The Good Life
Living the suburban dream
Glasgow - Rab C Nesbitt was the permanently intoxicated, sloppy, loner. The joke was supposed to be partly on Govan, the area of Glasgow from where Rab heralded; many took Glaswegians and Scots felt it reflected on them all.

Norfolk - if you're not out farming in Norfolk you'll be shopping for casual jumpers and hanging out at World of Leather, at least according to Alan Partridge.


Do Britain's most-mocked towns deserve their bad reputations? Where else would you include on the list?

Some of your comments so far:

Worrabout Stella Street and Surbiton. Much more influencial than The Good Life.
Shirley, UK

Slough! What could be more of an insult than David Brent? At least people feel sorry for Basil Fawlty. Somebody somewhere is a middle manager in a paper merchants in Slough.
Ben Rometsch, UK

Don't forget Swindon. Not only stigmatised in the Office, as the only place they could think of worse than Slough, but also the only town to have the distinction on being put in Room 101 (by Mark Lamarr)
Andy Newman, UK

Where are Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Stoke, Bolton, Wakefield, Gateshead, Reading, Milton Keynes.... All deserve a laugh.
Emily Sergeant, UK

The channel 4 comedy Chelmsford 123 went to town on Romford, making it the setting for one of the biggest brothels in Roman England.
Ben Levy, UK

I think Only Fools and Horses presents a much nicer impression of Peckham than most people have.
Mark, UK

Morecambe, mocked by comedian Colin Crompton in The Wheel Tappers & Shunters Social Club TV series, back in the 1970s
Nigel Hunter, England

What about Tooting, home to Citizen (Woolfy) Smith?
Woz, UK

Orpington has the distinction of being labelled as 'ordinary' in the Honda advert.
Spike, Orpington

Sheffield - after the worldwide success of Full Monty, a lot of people think girls in Sheffield are man eating creatures who call go to loo standing up! (On second thoughts...)
Paul, UK

I have been mocked live on XFM for living in Whitstable but gave as good as I got to the presenter who cam from Manchesta! If these people find it offence then they obviously need to get out more!
David Ainsworth, England

What about Chigwell having its reputation left in tatters after Birds of a Feather?
Adam Dean, UK

How could you omit Neasden, target of decades of satire in Private Eye, with its hopeless football team (star: Baldy Pevsner), ashen-faced soccer supremo Ron Knee, and the fans (Sid and Doris Bonkers)?
Tim, US

Purley, in Surrey must surely be remebered for the "Nudge Nudge, Wink Wink" sketch in Monty Python.
Brian Eastaff, United Kingdom

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Charles Joyce, Norfolk County Council
"He's very good, but he goes too far"
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