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28 October 2014

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Attention Scum

Simon Munnery as The League in Attention Scum

Edinburgh Fringe veteran Simon Munnery made his name during the 1990s with stand-up shows based upon his two alter-egos, 'Alan Parker: Urban Warrior' and comic philosopher 'The League Against Tedium'.

While both personae gained exposure with a BBC radio series, it was in his guise as 'The League' that Munnery caught the notice of TV executives and in 2001 he fronted Attention Scum, his own experimental comedy vehicle for BBC Choice/BBC TWO.

'Comedy vehicle' is an unusually apt description for the show, based as it was on The League driving around the country in a converted transit van with a mission "to discover England and confuse it".

Attention Scum

Visiting evocative locations such as Glastonbury and Tintagel, the spine of each episode would comprise The League standing on top of his van in a car park, preaching his bizarre philosophies to small, baffled crowds. His musings could take in any subject, from wealth ("money doesn't grow on trees? Yes it does, it's paper!") to love and war ("in love as in fighting, the winner has an eight-foot pole").

The League also frequently appeared pacing about the countryside, sermonising to the viewer, with his comic snippets broken up by chains of surreal sketches and the occasional 'Pythonic' animation which were often deliberately incomprehensible: as if to make the point, they'd be book-ended by huge question marks or exclamation marks appearing on screen.

Episodes also featured a clutch of recurring sketches, including Johnny Vegas' guest role as a 24 hour news anchor "who’d been up for 24 hours" and the regular musical segment 'Kombat Opera', complete with sedated vampire on piano.

Catherine Tate, Kevin Eldon and Richard Thomas joined Vegas in a strong supporting cast and director Stewart Lee later revived Kombat Opera for its own six-part run in 2007.

Although it left itself liable to accusations of being too self-consciously clever, Attention Scum certainly never suffered from a lack of invention.

However, it was unable to find the success later enjoyed by Lee and Thomas’ musical spin-offs (including Jerry Springer: The Opera) and despite Parker's continued cult following, the show ran for only one series.

Cast

Johnny Vegas
performer
Catherine Tate
performer
Kevin Eldon
performer
Simon Munnery
performer
Lore Lixenberg
performer
Richard Thomas
performer
Roger Mann
performer
Janet Munnery
performer
Bridget Nicholls
performer

Crew

Johnny Vegas
writer
Catherine Tate
writer
Kevin Eldon
writer
Simon Munnery
writer
Lore Lixenberg
writer
Richard Thomas
writer
Roger Mann
writer
Janet Munnery
writer
Bridget Nicholls
writer
Stewart Lee
director
Richard Webb
producer
Myfanwy Moore
executive producer

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