Thursday, 16 March 2017

Confidentially Speaking: Jasper Carrott's Walks To Work (Part 3)

Whats that? Third part of an incredibly niche subject? Lets do this thing!

Carrott Confidential started its third and final series on February 4th 1989 at 10:25pm, between American drama series "Midnight Caller" and still-not-yet-stolen-by-Murdoch football fun in "Match Of The Day". Punt and Dennis get more to do this series which may be a big influence on being tuning in for a obscure radio comedy series they're doing on Radio 1 at the same time. But who ever heard of The Mary Whitehouse Experience? (Answer: most people, it is a rhetorical question.)

Episode 1 - February 4th 1989

Radio Times Synopsis: "Jasper Carrott returns for another series of shows from BBC Television Centre. As usual, the humour is fast and furious. Steve and Hugh are his regular guests, and there are some surprise visits too."


Series 3 kicks off with not a knock on a dressing room door but a trunction on a jail door which proves THE BBC KNEW EVERYTHING!!!! ILLUMINATI 9/11 LIZARD PEOPLE!!!! ALAN WAS THE REAL THIRD MAN!!! And...wait, is that Elvis? Better play "Jailhouse Rock" then!


On release to "slop out for 35 minutes" Jasper encounters a chocolate cake scoffing Fergie on skis because fuck it its 1989 then is measured up by a surgeon in front of a butcher and what appears to be Zoltar from the movie "Big" before being saved by two NYC Guardian Angels and led to Studio 8.


And for continuity, here's the set for series 3. Better if massively generic.


Episode 2 - February 11th 1989

RT: "The man who put 'ella' into 'salmon'. The programme that's Clive James (E 605) free. No canned laughter, genuine live organic carrott."



The Lovin' Spoonful's "Summer In The City", a Dulux dog and some lovely blooms greet Jasper from his dressing room this week. Then its past a "Bring and Di Sale", Elvis again pushing a trolley, a BT (at the height of their useless yet unopposed reign) engineer cutting off customers with a big pair of shears and people meet the "Commons Select Committee"...to egg what I assume is meant to be Edwina Currie over her part in the salmonella scares over eating eggs upsetting farmers and suppliers hugely. Wouldn't it be strange if she was vindicated many years later? Oh.

Episode 3 - February 18th 1989

RT: "People, events, issues, arts, the media, a pound of mushrooms, 20 Woodbines, a Pot of taramasalata and three Pints today, please, milkman."



Ah, now there's a topical gag that needs no introduction as a post-Brit Awards shambles Sam Fox lookalike struggles to read the idiot boards introducing the show in front of a beaming Mick Fleetwood lookalike (bet there's not much money in that job..) "Rock Around The Clock" starts up just in time for Jasp to avoid some nuclear French cheese (presumably referencing that country's decision to start resume nuclear testing), break up the Queen and Elvis having a boogie and see the Ayatollah get hit by a penguin days after he sentenced Salman Rushdie to death for writing "The Satanic Verses" (published in the UK by...Penguin.)


Episode 4 - February 25th 1989

RT: "Not featuring the rock and roll years. 1842: due to a lack of newsreel footage.... please complain to the research department."


More superhero shenanigans as an even more aged Batman is waiting for Jasper outside his dressing room door to celebrate his 50th anniversary. As the classic Bat theme plays, Jasper passes an unfortunate family covered in sewage heading back from the beach and a coffin tastefully plastered with "HIROHITO" followed by one celebrating the death of another powerful world leader...



And another preparing for the (correct) result for the Mike Tyson fight happening that evening in Las Vegas (which gets a huge grumble from the audience)...


Episode 5 - March 5th 1989

RT: "The Chronicles of Barmia: The Hamster, the Dinner Lady and the MFI Corner Unit.
1: Why the BBC needs a bigger licence fee to make decent children's drama. Starring Jasper Carrott as Aslef the lion who's General Secretary of the Train Drivers' Union and Steve and Hugh as a couple of irritating kids who were weaned on E102 and monosodium glutamate."


A double whammy of late 80s advertising references to kick off with as new neighbour "Madonna" pops round for a spare "cola" which Jasper "prematurely" spills on her. Meanwhile, "Like A Prayer" plays in the background as if the programme has suddenly remembered the decade its being made in after just 21 weeks. Elsewhere, a Thatcher steps out of a fridge (nope) with a baby (son Mark had recently become a father) and an ill looking Humpty Dumpty seemingly bats for Salmonella. The journey to the studio is finished with a booth for signed Scandal programmes (featuring a suitably posed Joanne Whalley / Christine Keeler), the film of the Profumo affair that has been released in the UK the day before.


Episode 6 - March 11th 1989

RT: "After every meal or drink acids attack your teeth for up to 35 minutes. Jasper Carrott, along with Steve Punt, Hugh Dennis and Vicky Ogden knows this, but all of them are still prepared to spend the next 35 minutes letting you watch their teeth rot live, on air, just so you can have a good laugh."


More Prince Charles funnies as the sunburnt prince knocks our star up then we're back to the favourite driving hits as "Smoke On The Water" backs a series of events including a smoking tea lady walking past a "No Smoking" sign, some protesting furries (including a mole who Jasper is enraged by, evoking an old routine of his) and some very unfortunate football coaches, following a 2-0 loss to England by Albania that week.

Now about this mole...



Episode 7 - March 18th 1989

RT: "Linguini, tagliatelli, ravioli, tortellini ... what's the next pasta in the sequence?
Solve this simple puzzle and you could be eligible for membership of MENSA - which is the Latin word for 'smug clever dick'. Didn't you know that? Sorry then, chum ... we don't want thickoes like you in our club. Better stay in and watch Jasper Carrott instead - you might learn something."


Budget week then I take it. As Jasper gets a big red case shoved in his kisser, our second repeat song kicks in as his old pals ELO's "Ma-Ma-Ma Belle" from the second episode of series one plays, could this be a sign the show is winding up? (Yes.) Next the red case spills out money for a nearby Fergie and Andrew who get rid of the baby in order to fit more cash in the pram. Because Royals and 1989. He then passes have-to-blink-to-double-check-it-wasnt-the-real-one milk fan Bob Geldof lookalike awaiting Peaches who was born on March 13th (and depressingly has been dead for nearly three years), some extortionate water prices (this was the year of water privatisation) and some saucy ladies of the night (one of whom grabs Jasper's arse, seemingly unplanned) hanging about outside the House of Commons. Because Politicans and 1989.




Episode 8 - March 25th 1989

RT: "Cliffhanger Ending. In the final episode of the series, Jasper discovers the true identity of his parents, fakes his own death and begins a new life of complete anonymity by changing his name to Samuel Rushdie. Just your normal final episode, then."


And its back to the song from the very first episode, "Rockin' All Over The World" as Carrott Confidential bows out with one final corridor walk and some pissed up naval types at the door. Princess Diana returns to hand out johnnies from the Mates machine in a sequence designed for both winding up the public and taking delight in knowing its your final episode. John Hurt punches through a door, a tortoise carries a letter from former Conservative MP Paul Channon and various booze frontmen appear whilst everything around them is sold off, including Rutger Hauer for Guinness, George the Hofmeister Bear, Fosters' Paul Hogan and the Oblivion Boys (who were both in the cast of Jasper's previous show Carrott's Lib) in 'naked at the laundrette' Carling Black Label mode. Its not the real ones though (sadly?)


Its a very strange ending to a series that was quite by chance ended up airing through some big historical events. The whole run is much tamer than "Carrott's Lib" thanks to a more traditional writing team including Barry Cryer, Dick Hills, Spike Mullins, Neil Shand and Ian Davidson. Carrott's natural gift as a storyteller fits the format well as he weaves in and out of topical bits with more straightforward stand up, often for up to ten minutes a time in the opening monologue. A strange sort of act that was alternative yet thoroughly mainstream. I'm struggling to think of any comedian in the current climate who could host a similar sort of programme, which is a shame because TV needs more lighthearted satire for the masses that isn't Have I Got News For You or, indeed, any bleedin' panel show.

Its hard not to get sad too for the loss of TV Centre and its many corridors and studios we only got a little peek at as the home audience. Yes, it might have been out of date technologically and archaic in design but it was (and remains) bloody iconic and as far as the UK was concerned, the de facto home of British television. Not to mention absolutely a character of its very own. Remember it this way...


NEXT TIME: Not Jasper Carrott honest. Probably.

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