Absolutely was a popular
Kingdom television comedy sketch
show shown on Channel 4 between 1989
and crew were mainly Scottish; the
principal writers and performers were Moray
Hunter, Jack Docherty, Peter Baikie, Gordon Kennedy, Morwenna Banks (who is English) and
John Sparkes (Welsh).
was directed by Phil Chilvers
, Alistair Clark
, and Graham C Williams
. The show's producers
were Alan Nixon
, and David Tyler
- Stoneybridge Town Council (played by the
entire cast) were the council of the fictional small Scottish town
of Stoneybridge. Originally meant to be a one-off mocking the
plague of promotional videos and adverts done by many British towns
during the 1980s and 1990s, the characters proved so popular that
they snowballed into a regular parody of small town and village
councils run by the parochial minded with jarring grandiose
aspirations for themselves and the people they are trying to serve.
The council all had the same attributes, in that they all had
nasal-sounding voices, and all the men having moustaches. Over the
course of series, the characters developed, in particular Bruce
(Kennedy), leader of the council, who would often try and
manipulate things towards his own favour. Although in the series
the town was described as being near the Yetts of Muckhart (and later twinned with it), the pictures of
"Stoneybridge" used in the series came from the village of Breich, near West
Calder in West Lothian, its town clock from Tranent in East
Lothian. The "Stoney Bridge" itself is actually within
the Edinburgh suburb of Warriston, on the Warriston Road.
- Frank Hovis (played by Sparkes) is a character
described as a club host, who first appeared in series three. Hovis
first appeared in the Absolutely sketch show, which he
self-titled as "On the Lavatory (once replaced by 'The Lavatory
Express') with Frank Hovis". These were set in an unpleasant
toilet cubicle with no toilet paper, where
Frank would draw upon his own personal experiences in a slurred
north eastern English accent, usually involving toilet humour. Outside of Absolutely,
Hovis has featured in his own panel-game entitled Pub
Quiz. Still as rude and filthy as ever, Hovis
hosted Pub Quiz inside various pubs around the UK, while having a drink himself. Hovis later
inspired Sparkes to create the character of Gwyn, another
drunkard with a twitch, though Gwyn was less rude than his
predecessor. Hovis' crass attitude was later applied to Mr. Ffff,
another character on Barry
Welsh is Coming.
- MacGlashan (played by Docherty) was an extreme
Scottish nationalist and
playwright, who frequently espoused anglophobia. Introduced into the show in series
two, he would often write plays or be given jobs by his camp agent McMinn (Kennedy), but his hatred of
the English would always take over, leading in MacGlashan's work
never to get off the ground. MacGlashan was based on a man Docherty met in
a pub in Soho.
McMinn was based on a camp television producer. In one sketch he
cycles to the Scotland-England border, steps across and shouts
"Poofs!", before cycling away in disgust.
- Calum Gilhooley (played by Hunter) is
introduced as the most boring man in the world. He talks endlessly
about his anorak ("it has pockets, which is
good, 'cos you can keep things in them, and they open and close")
and Honda motorbikes. Docherty, usually playing himself, would
often express his horror of Calum, up to the point that he once ran
to the end of the Earth to avoid him, constantly being chased by
Calum along the way. While booking a plane ticket over the phone,
he spells his last name as beginning "G for Gnome".
- Denzil and Gwynedd (played by Sparkes and
Banks) sketches were centred around ethnic
jokes, and mockery of the Welsh
language. Both had an interest in DIY, but without the skill to
match - in the spirit of Kenny
Everett's Reginald Prescott - and who later reappeared
post-Absolutely in Barry Welsh is Coming. Some of
their sketches had Welsh subtitles, and were supposed to satirise
the perceived low production standards of Celtic language
programming. The two characters spoke with exaggerated Welsh
accents, and spoke cod-Welsh. Both looked dishevelled with rotting teeth,
and would wear such strange items as "chicken skin slippers",
insulting one another as "Aberystwyth features", and declaring "what in Swansea am going on
here!". In one moment, Denzil fights his brother for the
love of Gwynedd in "Welsh Unarmed Hitting". Denzil would also
frequent Clwb Sboncyn for "a nice pint of cheese water".
- The Little Girl (played by Banks) was a
character developed to be more accessible than some of the darker
characters like Frank Hovis. The Little Girl would always sit on a
very large table of desk (to make Banks look small) and would go on
to describe a topic such as death, dentists or the government in an
overexcited bluster. The sketches often ended with her exclaiming,
"It is, it's true!"
- The Nice Family (played by the entire cast)
was a mockery of middle class life, in
particular fathers. None of the members of the Family are named are
instead referred to by their titles of "Father" (Docherty),
"Mother" (normally Kennedy with his back always to the audience,
cleaning), "Eldest son" (Sparkes), "Daughter" (Banks), "First twin"
(Baikie) and "Second twin" (Hunter). The Father was the dominating
figure of the family, with everyone else looking exactly like him,
wearing beige jumpers, white collar shirts, brown ties, brown
slacks (except the women who wear brown skirts) and black shoes.
Father would instruct the children about certain matters and what
was and was not "The done thing". Anyone not obeying him would be
severely punished. However, he himself was not above misbehaving,
with one sketch featuring Father in fetish clothing.
- George and Donald McDiarmid (played by
Docherty and Hunter) were a surreal duo who would appear in almost
every episode. George McDiarmid was dressed in a black pinstripe
suit and tie, while Don McDiarmid (no relation) was dressed in
tweed, a bow tie, and an unusual pair of glasses with one lens at a
right angle. George would often find Don annoying in some manner,
but other than that none of the sketches had a uniform style and
would differ depending on who wrote them. The two characters would
go on to get their own sit-com Mr
Don & Mr George.
- Peter and Jennifer Wells (played by Docherty
and Banks) were a couple introduced in series two, who were keen to
support charities, but often let their own prejudices get in the
way. For example, they object giving aid to an orphan in Africa
because he is "Not black enough". Of all the characters in the
show, these were the most politically incorrect and allowed the
cast to include humour which could be considered offensive.
- Bert Bastard (played by Sparkes) was an old
man normally walking with a Zimmer
Frame, who was very rude. He would often swear, saying "Arse",
"Bastard", "Bugger" and "Quim",
commented that he was rude to women and in one scene shoplifts.
Bert how is very feeble and not able to perform many day-to-day
tasks such as cooking and eating. The character was based on
Sparkes's own experiences of working in social services.
- The Musical Sections featured in every
episode, but by series two Baikie developed a character of a smug
piano man. The character was meant to be a parody of characters
from other comedy shows such as Richard
Stilgoe from A Kick Up
the Eighties. The piano player would often be used to link
sketches together by playing his piano across the set. Another
regular musical character was created in series four, who had the
habit of laughing at amusing bumper stickers and signs.
- Gwyn (played by Sparkes) is a Welshman who
would often give monologues to camera. Gwyn suffered from a
constant nervous twitch which resulted in his body shaking all over
the place and whistling while he talked. The character was first
performed by Sparkes when he performed stand-up comedy before Absolutely.
Gwyn reappeared in Sparkes' post-Absolutely series,
Barry Welsh is
ran for four seasons, with a total of 28
- Season 1: Six episodes transmitted between 23
May 1989 and 27 June 1989
- Season 2: Eight episodes transmitted between
22 August 1990 and 10 October 1990
- Season 3: Eight episodes transmitted between
17 May 1991 and 5 July 1991
- Season 4: Six episodes transmitted between 22
January 1993 and 26 February 1993
The show finished in 1993. Gordon Kennedy had been appointed as the
host of the brand new National Lottery
it was decided that the time was right for the remainder of the
team to pursue individual projects and mutually agreeing that the
show had probably run its course. .
In 1993, the characters of Don and George had their own series
Mr. Don and Mr.
, which ran for six episodes.
In 1995, a pilot was shown on BBC2
for a series
called "Mac", a sitcom based around MacGlashan and his
long-suffering brother Finley (played by Gordon Kennedy). Finley
ran a small shop selling the sort of stereotypical Scottish kitsch
for tourists that inflamed Mac's senses, his assistant Aileen
(played by Elaine Collins of City Lights
) acted as Mac's
love interest, while Nick Hancock
played his Londoner love rival Van Webster.
All four series of Absolutely were released as a boxset entitled
on 5 May 2008.