Wednesday, April 3, 2002 by

Remember these names – you may be tested later; Firstly, the debit column – and remember folks, this is the abridged version - A Kick Up the EightiesLaugh? I Nearly Paid My Licence FeeCity LightsPulp VideoNaked VideoAll Along the Watchtower,Caledonian MacBrains and Elaine. Now, to counterbalance that horrendous litany of disastrous failures with the credit column (in its complete entirety); The Vital Spark,Scotch and Wry and… er… actually, that’s it.

In the last 20 or so years, aside from the ethereal, elderly magic of Rikki Fulton and the timeless tales of Para Handy, BBC Scotland has delivered one stunningly bad comedy programme after another. Their consistency is not in question – their ability to make the general public laugh is. There can be no greater sense of dread to be felt than the continuity announcer proudly proclaiming that “a new comedy from BBC Scotland is coming next”. Furthermore, living in Glasgow, there’s absolutely no escape from Snoddy. Posters proclaiming that it’s a “Hotel Oscar Oscar Tango of a show” seem to be filling every second billboard as you drive along, and there’s one staring at you from the back of what feels like every bus in town. When you saturate and bombard the public like this, then you’d better make damn sure that you’ve the goods to back the claims up with. So, does Snoddy sit in the credit or debit column?

Well, with all the inevitability of a Jimmy Krankie punchline (and none of the wit), the debit column grows larger. I should have realised this inescapable fact when last week, prior to the Scotland/France match being screened, a trailer for Snoddy was shown and met with a torrential hail of abuse from the assembled masses. I also recollected an article from The Sunday Times a few weeks back in which the writer referred to Snoddy as suffering from “himaff syndrome” – in the more robust atmosphere of a Glasgow public house this quickly translated as “prickfae syndrome”. As the trailer ran, the disinterested fans would point to whatever lame character filled the screen and blithely ask-cum-state, “that’s that prick fae …” – and that’s a rather cleaned up version. In the aftermath of Scotland’s footballing rape by France, the news that Snoddy was due on screen imminently was welcomed with language that was infinitely worse and, certainly, hallmarked with that dark, gallows humour so redolent of this fine city. Evidently, Snoddy has, thus far, singularly failed to capture the imagination of the jaikie in the boozer (forget your chap on the Clapham omnibus, we’ll take the bloke in the bar getting hammered).

After a few minutes of watching this dire slice of phenomenally awful television, I noticed that several people seemed to be frothing at the mouth, with veins fit to burst, eyes a-popping and, to a man, on the verge of a collective seizure. Let’s just say that asking them all to pipe down so that I could listen was a bad idea. That’ll teach me to try and review a programme in a busy pub in the aftermath of a Scotland humiliation. Common sense dictated that it surely couldn’t be as bad as the scene that engulfed me suggested. After all, it was the drink on the back of the aforementioned humiliation that was talking wasn’t it? Well, you might start off in a state of total sobriety when Snoddy starts but, as sure as eggs are eggs, you’ll be hitting the bottle pretty damn sharpish. In a week when I’ve sat down and had my senses assaulted and battered by the likes of Lenny Henry and French & Saunders, it comes as no surprise to deliver a damning verdict of total and utter shite upon this excuse for a comedy show. Our licence fee goes towards crap like this – think about it. In some small way, we each and every one of us bear some responsibility for this.

If one had any smugness in being Scottish, then a quick two scenes of this mince would bring you instantly back to reality with a shattering crash. This programme screams “we’re Scottish and we’re pure pish” and does so with what borders on a voluble pride. Like FR David, words don’t come easy. This is not a comedy – it is a catalogue of everyone and everything that is bad and inherently wrong with the incestuous world of comedy within BBC Scotland and its obviously depleted gene pool.

When I said earlier that there was nothing scarier than the continuity announcer informing the viewing public of an upcoming new comedy, I was tragically wrong. How horrible must it be for a BBC Scotland high heid yin to sidle up to you and mutter, “loved your comedy, darling. We’re going to commission it.” That, quite frankly folks, must be hell.


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