Sunday, 8 July 2012

Top 10 British Sitcom Bastards - Part 2

Welcome back to my list of the Top Ten Sitcom Bastards. And we kick of the second part of the list with...

8. Vince Clark (15 storeys High)

In this cruelly underrated comedy, Vince Clark is portrayed as being a pessimistic, cynical, misanthropic social recluse and a borderline sociopath with no social graces and no sense of embarrassment. He is also shown to be incredibly boring and to have what seems to be no power of original thought as he often recycles other people's stories as if they were his own.

To get a good idea of his bastardness you just have to look a the way he treats his friendly, selfless, outgoing flatmate Errol. He has super-glued his hands to a heavy fish tank, not let him watch what he wants on TV, refused to help out of a room packed full of cactuses and sliced his trainers in half and putting them on the balcony (full well knowing that Errol has vertigo and will be therefore unable to retain them.) I think that should be proof enough of Vince's bastardness.

5. Basil Fawlty (Fawlty Towers)

Well, we couldn't have a list of top sitcom bastards without Basil could we? Throughout the painfully short two series of Fawlty Towers basil was a snobbish, miserly, xenophobic, sexually repressed paranoiac misanthrope who in his elitist ways long to be part of a higher social class and despises the people he takes in at his hotel. Insulting and rude and abusive to most his staff (especially Manuel) he also shows irrational right-wing views on nearly everything from sex to foreigners.

4. Tony Hancock (Hancock's Half Hour)

Most people seem to think the idea of playing yourself in a sitcom comes from Curb Your Enthusiasm. actually the idea spans all the way back to 1956 in Hancock's Half Hour. This, coupled with the fact that it is generally regarded as the first British sitcom just shows that Hancock was really quite ahead of his time.

Anyway...In this show Tony Hancock plays an exaggerated version of himself where he is insulting, venal, pompous, stuck-up and solely out for himself. Show utter tactlessness when talking to people and behaves like a rude, miserable bastard  to pretty much everyone.

This scene in the episode "The Cruise" I think demonstrates his character pretty well. First he berates and threatens two couples having fun with a beach ball. Then when Hattie Jacques comes up to try and flirt with him, instead of politely going "Uhh... no thanks. I'm not really interested." he goes on and verbally assaults her. Insulting starts around 4:31

3. Alf Garnett (Till Death Us Do Part/In Sickness and In Health). 

Alf was the curmudgeonly old bigot throughout the two shows mentioned above. Alf throughout really didn't like anyone. He was an anti-Black, anti-Semetic, anti-Irish, anti-women, anti-gay, selfish, mean-spirited prick. He was however firmly pro-monarchy, pro-conservative West Ham supporter who wanted to have the British empire back.

He used to spout hi vile, fascist views to however he could despite that fact that they were almost entirely illogical and had huge flaws in them. However he was stubborn enough not to register these problems and continued to bulldozer his hateful rhetoric right until the end. Yep, Alf Garnett was the archetypal bigot. So much so that 'Alf Garnett' is now occasionally used as an insult, 
particularly in politics.

2. Alan B'Stard (The New Statesman) 

The name says it all really. Alan B'Stard really was a bastard. A selfish, greedy, dishonest, devious, lecherous, sadistic, ultra right wing, fascist and truly evil bastard. And the thing that makes this bastard all the more bastardly is that he is in government and therefore has more power than most others.

Some of the appalling things he has done is on-purposely mismanage a Tory election campaign so Labour would be blamed for an economic crisis, stage his own assassination in order to bring back hanging and also make £1,000,000 in the process and when he was accused of having sex with minors by The Times newspaper he plotted to get his hands on the stolen millions of Robert Maxwell who was hiding in Bosnia he was hailed as a humanitarian hero. A true, blue bastard. 

1. Jill Tyrell (Nighty Night)

Although he wasn't quite the crowning bastard. In fact our no. bastard is a bastardette. Jill Tyrell is a truly nasty piece of work. She works in a beauty salon and would probably give Sweeny Todd nightmares. One of her customers is smothered to death by cling film while having a body wrap and another is driven to suicide due to one of Jill's trademark cuts.

What she really wants though more than anything is the husband of her friend Cath. And is willing to go out of her way to get him into her life. Including deception, dressing up as his ex-mistress, murder or too. You know, the usual stuff. 

Whereas Alan B'Stard's character has a cartoonish buffoonery that always separates his bastardly nature from reality Jill Tyrell is played as a very normal character. The sort of person you'd see on the street but not really care about. A typical blond-airhead, pretty harmless. Yet the fact she has such a dark and malaicious underpinning makes her all the more sinister. 

So that's my Top 10 British Sitcom Bastards. Hope you enjoy, should be more in the future. 

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