THE BOTTOM LINE: Remembering a great British comedy

Bottom opening title card (c) Wikipedia

Vijay Shah (feature writer & editor)

Sunny Atwal (idea contributor)

In the mid-1990′s while growing up in a modest terraced house in Plaistow, east London, I would sit down after dinner on a Saturday evening and be enamoured by the antics of two hilariously seedy gentleman living in a mucky flat in some God-forsaken part of Hammersmith. Whether it was constantly complaining about their woefully pitiful social and love lives, or booting each other in the crown jewels, this duo of stragglers, Eddie and Richie, left me in stitches with their smutty jokes and slapstick comedy routines. The fact that this programme was simply called “Bottom” gives you an idea of how risqué the comedy featured on it was. Although the condom vending machine skits and numerous whiny complaints about not being able to “do it” may rub some people up the wrong way, I looked beyond the seaside postcard humour and discovered a hallmark example of relatable comedy going ‘back-to-basics’. Nearly two decades after the last episode was aired, I still regard Bottom as one of the finer pieces of modern British televised comedy, something which seems impossible to reproduce now.

Eddie and Richie were lovable rogues. Laddish to the core and brimming with old-school Cockney swagger (but with posher accents), they were easy-ish to relate to, if you were a man that is. If you happened to be a woman, then Bottom was your crash course in how to avoid sweaty-faced bald weirdos begging to buy you a drink in the local, while serenading you with sordid chat-up lines like “That’s a smashing blouse you’re wearing”. They were so close to each other, they seemed almost like a couple – Eddie the perpetually drunk husband, Richie the stay-at-home wife with his constant verbal nonsense and houseproud habits. Every other hour though, marital bliss would be blissfully shattered as they commenced smashing seven shades of faecal matter out of each other. You easily could have thought of them as a pair of “sad desperate plonkers” – crusty societal rejects with a overinflated self-entitlement in the sacred arts of scoring birds and appreciating quintessentially English pursuits – at least in Richie’s case. At the same time, they were too funny and familiar to hate, and the characters grew on you to the point, where you found yourself involuntary quoting lines like ” Okey dokey smokey donkey me old china” while gossiping over the office water cooler.

Ade Edmondson (left) and Rik Mayall (right) as Eddie and Richie in Bottom (c) Wikipedia

After I saw Bottom in my school days (I was surprised my mum even allowed me to watch it at all, but then she would make a good supporting character in there) I moved on and largely forgot about it. Then my friend at work began showing me snippets of episodes he had downloaded onto his iPod and memories of Eddie Elizabeth Hitler and Richard Richard Esq. soon came flooding out faster than Eddie’s vomit post-sneaked-in bottle of cheap Scotch. Last year I managed to get hold of a torrent someone made of the official Bottom DVD boxset…and the rest is history.

SYNOPSIS:

Bottom was a UK comedy television series that was broadcast on terrestrial channel BBC2 from 1991 to 1995. Set in Hammersmith, west London, its main characters were Eddie Hitler (played by Ade Edmondson) and Richard Richard (played by Rik Mayall). Edmondson and Mayall were long-established comedians who had previously appeared in comedy show “The Young Ones” in the early 1980s. Richie and Eddie are two flatmates who live on the dole in a rundown flat above a newsagent’s opposite a kebab shop. 

The programme ran for three series and included a series of live tours of the comedy routine and even a feature film ” Guest House Paradiso “. The show was noted for its nihilistic, chaotic humour and its emphasis on traditional slapstick, with moderately violent and sexual overtones. In 2008, Bottom came at number 45 in a public vote on ‘ Britain’s Best Sitcom’ by the BBC.

Recurring characters:

Here’s a summary of the show for those not familiar with it, as provided by Wikipedia.

Eddie and Richie are two crude, perverted lunatics, with no jobs, very little money and only a filthy flat in Hammersmith (located at “11, Mafeking Parade”) to their name. The two spend their time coming up with desperate schemes to acquire s**, attacking each other violently, and getting into dodgy situations. Bottom is considered the most violent example of britcom, examples of violence include teeth being knocked out, heads crushed in fridge doors, fingers being cut off, penises set on fire, legs being chainsawed off, forks shoved in eyes, pencils forced up noses, poison being drunk, legs broken and faces shoved in campfires.

Richie is a clumsy, pompous dimwit who attempts to make himself out as being much higher in social status than he actually is, and is both deranged and desperate, as well as being obsessed with s**. Eddie, a cheerfully violent drunkard, meanwhile spends his time getting drunk and wasting the dole money and secretly steals Richie’s family heirloom, although he occasionally has moments of demented genius. Eddie’s friends—the gormless Spudgun and Dave Hedgehog—both fear Richie, thinking he’s psychotic. Although the pair sometimes venture out (the most common location being the local pub, the Lamb and Flag), many of the episodes are set simply within the confines of the pair’s squalid flat.

I have watched all the episodes from first to last at least twice now in the past year, and honestly it’s one of the best laughs I have had in years. Bottom was a landmark example of British comedy at its finest…and crudest. Though the jokes seemed smutty and childish at times, they worked with maximum effect. Both me and my mate have always wanted Rik and Ade to start a new series, updated for the 21st century, but it’s a wish which may or may not come true sadly.

The Half-Eaten Mind, in this special tribute article and homage to one of this country’s comic jewels, has put together a YouTube gallery and selection of quotes from some of the best bits and scenes from Bottom. We hope you enjoy these select cuts of fine Nineties’ comedy at its best. You’ll probably laugh so hard, you will end up in Accident and Emergency with a bruised bottom. You have been warned!

Videos are rated 15+ and are the property of the BBC.

The opening credits….(posted by “TelevisionOpenings”)

Richie gets it in the eye, Eddie gets the cold hard (forged) cash – from the third series (posted by cookieoffender)

The Chess Fight!!! (Robert G. Houston)

Bottom – The Hobnob Fight (Robert G. Houston)

Halloween Banana (BBCComedyGreats)

Ritchie falls down stairs making a TV programme (ooosaeed)

Best of BBC show ‘Bottom’ series 3 (Oliver Harper)

[Facing imminent death]

Eddie: You know, I think I might come back as a bra.

Richie: What?

Eddie: Well, all us Buddhists believe in reincarnation.

Richie: When did you become a Buddhist?

Eddie: About 5 seconds ago. And may I say it has completely changed my life!

Richie: But you can’t come back as a bra! That’s just stupid! You have to come back as something organic.

Eddie: All right, all right, I’m only a beginner you know! Errr… all right then, I’ll come back as… ah! Claudia Schiffer! She’s seriously organic!

******

Eddie: That’s it! I’m going to write to my M.P.

Richie: Why?

Eddie: Because I love her!

Richie: [emphatically] Eddie! Tony Blair is a man!

******

Eddie: [reads letter] What’s this? Annual membership to “Barbarella’s Aerobic Fitness Centre”?

Richie: Nothing to do with me.

Eddie: It’s got “Richard Richard” written on it.

Richie: Ah. Er…

Eddie: [reads] “Leotard”?

Richie: Well, er, Eddie, none of us are getting any younger. I just pop along every Wednesday afternoon and firm up.

Eddie: What, you stand at the back of a room full of girls jiggling their bottoms up and down and “firm up”?

******

[both watching a rented video]

Richie: It’s not very sexy, is it?

Eddie: No. I must say, I expected a lot more from “The Furry Honeypot Adventure”.

Richie: I think this is for kids you know Eddie. I think those Hussein brothers saw you coming again. Well, what else did you get?

Eddie: “Big Jugs”

[laughs]

Richie: “Big Jugs”! All right!

[reads box]

Richie: “A history of pottery in the nineteenth century.” Anything else?

Eddie: Well this one’s a sure-fire hit. Look. “Swedish Lesbians in Blackcurrant Jam”.

Richie: Yabba-dabba-doo!

[reads]

Richie: No Eddie, it’s “Swedish Legends in Blackcurrant Jam Making.”

Eddie: Aw, come on, it’s got to be dirty, it says “Swedish”!

******

Eddie: What was your Red Indian name then? “Running Mouth”? “Sitting Down”? “Talking Bollocks”?

Richie: “Dances With The Wind”.

Eddie: That’ll be the curry again.

******

Richie: Haven’t you got through to the Pope yet?

Dave Hedgehog: [looking at telephone directory] “Pope, G.”

Richie: What do you mean, “Pope, G.”? He’s not Pope Gavin is he? He’s Pope John Paul. Look under “Pope, J.P.”!

Dave Hedgehog: J.P. Oh, here he is: “Pope, J.P.” I didn’t know he lived in Twickenham.

******

Richie: Let’s just be economical with the truth, errrm, something, buck, yeah hot young buck.

Eddie: What about badger?

Richie: No, no I’m more a sort of…

Eddie: HEDGHOG!

Richie: No fox! That’s good, no that is good.

Eddie: Stoat!

Richie: Foxy Stoat? Yeah! It’s gotta a ring to it… foxy stoat seeks…

Eddie: Pig!

Richie: Foxy Stoat Seeks Pig! Oh Shut up Eddie!

******

Richie: You know mate, if we ever get through to the other side of this one, if we ever get back to Blighty, I’m really gonna change the way I live… find a piece of land, find a beautiful woman, hell, maybe even raise a few kids

Eddie: Aaaah quit dream’n skip, we’re never going to pull through to the other side of this one

Richie: No you’ve got to dreeeeam Eddie. You’ve got to hold on to the dreeeeeam!

Eddie: Can I ask you a question?

Richie: Shoot from the hip Eddie, that’s always been your style.

Eddie: WHY ARE WE TALKING SUCH COMPLETE AND UTTER BOLLOCKS?

[proceeds to beat Richie]

RELATED ARTICLES from Zemanta

SOURCE/IMAGE CREDITS:
“Bottom (TV series)” – Wikipedia LINK
“Section 3: Brainstorm of Content and Classifcation of film” - Ainsley Turton, Media (15 December 2010) LINK
“Bottom (1991–1995) Quotes” IMDb LINK

 

Posted on August 31, 2013, in Features and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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