Alas Smith and Jones
Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones first found fame together on the massively successful Not the Nine O'Clock News.
While fellow performers Rowan Atkinson and Pamela Stevenson then struck out on their own: one starring in Blackadder, the other forsaking TV for a new career in psychology, Smith and Jones opted to stick with sketch comedy and in doing so formed one of the strongest comedy double acts on British TV.
Each episode would begin with Mel and Griff appearing in front of the studio audience to introduce the show, usually with great difficulty (such as trying in vain to hide enormous hangovers), before giving way to a succession of quick-fire sketches with a reliably high-hit ratio.
The series gleefully offered a skewed take on modern life (with even its title being a twist on American cowboy series Alias Smith and Jones) and followed the template of Not the Nine O'Clock News in featuring a high percentage of visual gags, delivered with a rich mix of studio and on-location filming.
They were broken up by longer spoofs (often of movies and TV adverts) and song parodies targeting anything from Madonna hits, to show-tunes (about such glamorous subjects as roadside car cleaners).
The show's trademark, though, was the weekly 'head-to-head' chat between the pair, in which they played dim versions of themselves who'd discuss any possible topic and arrive at ridiculous conclusions (sometimes reducing each other to corpsing in the process).
This of course drew comparisons with the ingenious Dagenham Dialogues of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, but despite living in such a huge shadow, Smith and Jones at their best were downright hilarious.
As well as being gifted performers, the pair contributed their own material to the show, and were ably supported by a hugely talented team of writers including Clive Anderson, Mark Steel, Andy Hamilton, Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews.
The result was one of the strongest sketch series of the 1980s and as a recent BBC One 'Best of' Series proved (The Smith and Jones Sketchbook), much of their material remains fresh and funny today.
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