Chewin’ the Fat

Wednesday, December 20, 2000 by

With the final episode of Chewin’ the Fat, it is perhaps appropriate to look in again on this third series and dwell on whether it has been a success overall, or if it has failed to deliver the goods.

In general this series has been of a uniform standard, with no episode lacking anything the rest of the run possessed. However, the flipside to this is that no episode has shone out as being particularly brilliant.

It must be said that the programme has again been extremely well received; at least in the experience of this reviewer. However, as weighted towards Glasgow and its colloquialisms and humour as Chewin’ the Fat undoubtedly is, it is difficult to ascertain what the response has truly been outwith the city where I live. Perhaps in Edinburgh or indeed London, the consensus is different. But that is missing the point; the reviews have been positive in the press, and public opinion seems to be that they want more.

In terms of characters, the old stalwarts were mostly in place. I found many of them, however, to be slightly stale. Ronald Villiers the appalling actor had several noteworthy moments, particularly the “Kwik-Fit” style advert, but there seemed to be an element of re-using old ideas. The Lonely Shopkeeper and the Lighthouse Men are one-joke sketches, so if there is to be a fourth series I would prefer to see them phased out, as I believe them to have run their course. Jack and Victor the old men, and Bish and Bosh the painters are still enjoyable, partly because they are slightly more realistic and have more scope for development.

As for the new inclusions this series, there was an element of hit-and-miss about them. The “ooh, fancy” gag had been trailed in all the tabloid papers as the “new catch phrase” item, but it was disappointing. Yes, your friends may take the mickey for using “big” fancy words, but that in itself is not worth several short sketches.

One thing that was notable was the slightly more “vulgar” approach. A series of sketches about people declaring that their son has just started masturbating (much to the embarrassment of the boy), “wanker” hand signals, spoofs of “gay chat lines”, “Joey Deacon” faces; all marked a more “adult” approach, albeit with a slight playground mentality to it. Don’t get me wrong, much of it was hilarious, but there is the worry that they may go too far if pushed slightly further. Indeed, several friends have remarked to me that they believed it was all too much “smut”, one even commenting that one sketch was “almost child pornography”. Far from it, of course, the sketch was merely about how you can forgive any vandalism or mishap provided it’s carried out by an angelic-faced child. But the thought is there: if some sketches are “risque”, will narrow-minded people read too much into those that are entirely innocent?

So where do the team go now? Well, the rumours have it that they are preparing sitcoms for Ronald Villiers and Jack & Victor. I personally feel that Jack and Victor have more mileage, as proved in the stage show Still Game, which develops the two further. Villiers I feel is too thin a character to sustain a programme on his own. Rab C Nesbitt’s greatest moments were as three minute sketches on Naked Video. We do not need another sketch character fleshed out into a poor sitcom. Scotland has suffered enough.

As for Chewin’ the Fat itself? I believe the wisest move would be to call it a day. This third series was thoroughly enjoyable but it did seem slightly bereft of new ideas, relying too heavily on old favourites trotting out familiar catch phrases. It would be far better to bow out on a high note and concentrate on something new.

And one final note? “Dobber” is still an extremely funny word.


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