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Not everything Glinner touched was gold — 4 Comments

  1. Oh, God. Big Train. That thing stunk.

    “Big Train retained another key principle: no returning characters or catchphrases.”

    Yeah, that was the biggest mistake. Reeves & Mortimer did a lot of stuff that wasn’t funny on first glance, but repetition and familiarity brought you round (well, it brought a lot of people round).

    “I had a theory that the reason people like sketch shows is the novelty and excitement of what the next one’s going to be”

    Which is wrong. Compare and contrast with the Fast Show, a couple of years earlier. Very few one-offs, and a lot of returning characters. Result, one of the most popular British sketch shows of all time.

    Spike Milligan noticed it in the ’50s, too. There’s a Goon Show with a running gag where the phone rings, someone asks, “Excuse me, can you tell me the price of sliced ham per portion?”, the answer comes, “No”, to which the caller replies, “Blast!“. He put it in deliberately to test his theory, which he’d had since the days of ITMA (which was almost entirely repeated catchphrases) that anything can become funny if you repeat it often enough.

    It makes sense now. Big Train was based on a flawed premise.

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