World Of Pub
If ambition was the only yardstick then World of Pub would be one of the most successful comedies in UK history.
The setup was effectively a cartoon, and indeed the original radio show was advertised as a cartoon for the ears.
Deep in the East End, the worst pub in the world is run by Garry and Barry, who never really know what to do to make things better and seem generally content to let things slide.
It'd be easier to do that if it weren't for Dodgy Phil, their extremely sharp cockney geezer mate, who's forever coming up with frankly idiotic schemes to make the place a mecca.
The schemes always go wrong. Barry and Garry's world is always destroyed - and often the pub is as well, only to be back there the next time round.
Although physical realism obviously wasn't high on writer Tony Roche's agenda, it's his consistent characters and the courage of the setups that make World of Pub work most of the time.
The main comedy drive is usually provided by Dodgy Phil, who's like a one-man Fast Show - you know what he'll do every episode but it's the way he'll do it, the way he'll convince the brothers that his mad scheme is absolute gold, and the inevitable collapse of everything through incompetence and bad luck, that makes it funny.
Tony Roche assembled the ingredients of some of the best comedies of all time and nailed them all together for World Of Pub.
He took the absolute strap-yourself-in insanity of the Goons and its propensity for grotesque characters (the show was filled with cameos by well-known comedy faces). To this he brought sight gags and visual puns.
But it's the committed way that Garry, Barry and Phil combine to always, always bring things down around their ears, and its echo of Frank Spencer's one-man disaster area that pushes the whole series along.
Whilst it didn't set the world alight in terms of ratings, World of Pub did pretty well. It used strong actors rather than overused faces, particularly in the TV version (although virtually all the actors have gone on to bigger things), and whilst its publicity and approach always stressed its surreality and zaniness, it was actually a better show than that suggests.
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