Alexei Sayle's Stuff
A firebrand Liverpudlian comic, Sayle was at the forefront of the alternative comedy boom at the turn of the 1980s.
He became the first compère at the Comedy Store and gained widespread TV recognition, especially through his regular appearances in The Young Ones.
His strong persona was well-suited to television and Alexei Sayle's Stuff, his first starring vehicle, reached screens in 1988.
At the heart of the show were Sayle's trademark monologues to camera, which offered a showcase for his engaging stand-up style. Usually filmed on location in a variety of settings, they would cover a wide range of subjects and observations and provide a through-narrative for each episode.
These were broken up by a variety of surreal sketches that often used a skewed take on history and mythology as a source of humour.
This helped give the series an anarchic, Pythonesque feel, which was enhanced by the unpredictable way in which sketches could overlap or be invaded by Sayle himself beginning another monologue.
Refreshingly, this format kept viewers guessing as to what might happen next, and in mixing the surrealism of Monty Python with the comedian's own personal stamp, the series bear resemblances with Spike Milligan's Q series.
It was by no means a one-man-show, though, and Sayle was assisted by an impressive ensemble supporting cast that included Angus Deayton, Morwenna Banks, Felicity Montagu, Jan Ravens and Tony Millan, to name but a few.
Occasionally the utter weirdness of the sketches ended up overshadowing the comedy itself, but this was a small price to pay for a format that was unceasingly imaginative.
Sayle's self-styled image as 'the fat man in a tight-fitting suit' was now firmly planted in the public imagination and his sketch vehicles were to become a fixture of BBC TWO comedy across the next ten years.
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