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30 July 2014
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Alas Smith and Jones

Mel Smith and Griff Rhys 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.

Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones

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).

Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones

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.

Cast

Mel Smith
performer
Griff Rhys Jones
performer

Crew

Arthur Smith
writer
Mel Smith
writer
Griff Rhys Jones
writer
Andy Hamilton
writer
Clive Anderson
writer
Simon Bell
writer
Jimmy Mulville
writer
Rory McGrath
writer
Mark Cullen
writer
Colin Bostock-Smith
writer
Laurie Rowley
writer
Paul Smith
writer
Terry kyan
writer
Roger Planer
writer
Barry Bowes
writer
Robin Driscoll
writer
Moray Hunter
writer
Jack Docherty
writer
Paul Martin
writer
John Irwin
writer
Paul B Davies
writer
Jon Canter
writer
Dick Hills
writer
Mark Steel
writer
Terry Ravenscroft
writer
Guy Jenkin
writer
Andrew Hastings
writer
Jamie Rix
writer
Nick Wilton
writer
John Kilby
writer
Martin Booth
writer
John Machin
writer
Tony Sarchet
writer
Ian Brown
writer
Abi Grant
writer
Phil Nice
writer
Rob Grant
writer
Doug Naylor
writer
Jimmy Mulville
script editor
Martin Shardlow
director
Jimmy Mulville
director
John Kilby
director
Jamie Rix
director
Martin Shardlow
producer
Jimmy Mulville
producer
John Kilby
producer
Jamie Rix
producer

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