Tuesday, 23 December 2008

211: Christmas 4

“Harry Enfield and His Christmas Chums”, BBC1, 24 December 1997

Poor old Modern Dad was Richard Preddy and Gary Howe's idea. It appealed to me because I've lots of gay friends who've been through similar experiences. Few parents over sixty understand the 'progressive' comings and goings of their children, but they love them, so they try their best. I based my character on my father, who is from a much more traditional generation, and always tried just-that-little-bit-too-hard with my girlfriends, knowing that, in the modern world, he mustn't voice his old-fashioned disapproval of relationships outside wedlock. If you've ever seen my dad on Watchdog, you'll know how similar Modern Dad is to him. Modern Dad worked so well because Ben, who played my son, and his boyfriend Ewan (Spud from Trainspotting) were so sympathetic. They didn't 'camp it up' - they were just a normal, nice couple. You feel sorry for them, for me and for Mum. The sketch was basically “What if a gay couple had come to stay at Fawlty Towers?”

- afterword from “Harry Enfield and His Humorous Chums”, Penguin Books, 1997


Like the previous piece from “Punch”, this exhumes almost every common gay pun imaginable. The “Punch” parody uses theses clichés because for that public that’s largely what people thought homosexuals were. Gays are funny because this is what gays actually are.

By the times of this sketch, they’re acknowledged to be rather worn-out hack clichés. Each of the clichés is expertly deployed to humiliate the well-meaning but horrifically anxious father for his cluelessness.

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