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29 July 2014
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A Bit of Fry and Laurie

Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie

Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie met while they were undergraduates at Cambridge University and members of Footlights. They were introduced to each other by fellow student Emma Thompson.

Their shared sense of humour immediately clicked, forging a comic partnership that became one of the strongest and most enduring in Britain across the 80s and 90s.

Stephen Fry

After joining ensemble sketch show Alfresco, alongside Thompson and Robbie Coltrane and following appearances on Saturday Live, in 1987 they landed their own BBC series.

This outlet for their burgeoning writing and performing talents enabled them to explore their particular brand of humour, which readily mixed subtle wordplay with slapstick and maintained an anarchic edge partly thanks to their awareness of, and frequent references to, the set of their own show.

The mix of sketches had a healthy hit-rate and unpredictability, alternating between items recorded in front of the audience and items shot on location.

Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry

And as in all great double acts both performers had something individual to offer, be it Fry's love of language and delight in innuendo or Laurie's ability to parody musical genres at the piano (a range of talents not dissimilar to Peter Cook and Dudley Moore).

Although each series enjoyed its loose structure, certain items did become recurring features, such as the Pythonesque spoof vox-pops and the continuing travails of two business magnates in the Uttoxeter area.

A Bit of Fry and Laurie ran to four series ending in 1995, although the pair have reunited regularly, particularly for the BBC's biennial Comic Relief event.

Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry

It's ironic that they should have based a 1990 episode around trying to make it 'big', given the enormous success each has since enjoyed on both sides of the Atlantic.

They may have eventually outgrown the sketch format but this series offered early proof of their skill and variety at both writing and performing comedy.

Cast

Hugh Laurie
performer
Stephen Fry
performer
Deborah Norton
performer

Crew

Hugh Laurie
writer
Stephen Fry
writer
Jon Canter
script editor
Roger Ordish
director
Bob Spiers
director
Nick Symons
director
Kevin Bishop
director
Roger Ordish
producer
Jon Plowman
producer
Kevin Bishop
producer

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