between 1973 and 1979. The main cast and scriptwriters were Tim Brooke-Taylor, Barry Cryer and John Junkin, with supporting roles and piano accompaniment provided by Denis "
The format of the show was loose at best, as it was entirely focused on jokes. However, a typical episode would consist of twenty minutes' worth of quick sketches, puns, and jokes, with some novelty songs thrown in for good measure, and the last ten minutes would be taken up with an extended sketch, usually under the heading "
taken to their logical extreme by "playing three programmes at one and the same time", which resulted in jokes, puns, and
as the dialogue in the programmes were cut together to form sentences.
. More or less everyone agrees that no great steps were taken to make the material more visual. This version lasted for 13 episodes before fading away.
Counting the twelve surviving episodes of the TV show and the five seasons of the radio show, coupled with three Christmas specials, more than 70 episodes were made, all-in-all.
- Accidental Misnaming:
- John casually referred to Barry as "Fatty", and Barry usually responded with "Baldy". In one episode, Barry calls him out on it, explaining that he's gone on a diet and is no longer fat — John complies, and calls him "Skinny" for the rest of the episode.
- In a stranger example, the gang would sometimes refer to each other casually, using names or nicknames that weren't theirs — for example "Vera", "Babs", "darling" and "George".
- All Men Are Perverts: Played a part in one-off gags so very, very often...
Barry: There is a spiritual love, a pure ethereal love that exists between two human beings, enabling them to share each other totally. Each joy, each sorrow...each tiny emotion. They are as one. ...On the other hand, there's WHOAHOHOH!
- Analogy Backfire: Not so much 'exposing another fact about an analogy' as 'exposing why it couldn't possibly work':
Tim: Did you know that if the entire Chinese nation started marching past your window right now, due to the excessively high birth rate in China, the procession would never end?
Barry: ...But how could they if they were mar—
Tim: Shut up.
Barry: Well—no! They're marching, they can't—
Tim: Shut up, Barry.
- Animated Actors: Everyone. Even when they were out-of-character, the cast played themselves as characters — John was a serious professional, Barry was a lovable swine, Tim was a naïve snob and Denis was narcissistic and smarmy.
- Bad Impressionists: Played around with — Barry did a lot of impressions on the show, of varying quality. Sometimes, however, he set them up to be needlessly difficult (such as an impression of a discussion on the German economy between Adolf Hitler and a horse). Also, in one episode, he tries to prove he can go international by doing impressions of English celebrities in French. ("Et maintenant, monsieur Tommy Cooper! Exactément comme ca! Non, comme ca!")
- Played completely straight in another episode, though, when Tim claims he can do an impression of a Scotch egg.
Barry: Why 'McSplat'?
Tim: Forgot to mention—it was a very tall chicken.
- Bad Liar: Whenever John was trying to conceal his seldom-brought-up affair with Barry's wife, this trope took effect.
John: Actually, one of my best friends is Barry's wife.
John: I mean...I was just talking about this West Indian dwarf I'm in love with.
- Bilingual Bonus: In one episode, Barry sings a moody song in French...and is soon joined by the rest of the cast, with the tune shifting to Knees Up Mother Brown. If you happen to speak French, you'll notice that the lyrics actually are the lyrics of Knees Up Mother Brown, translated into French.
- Boring Insult: Non-villainous, but still applies. In one episode, Barry is attempting to tell the longest joke in the world, which takes off to a slow start. John makes the aside "He could make World War II sound boring," to which Barry responds by doing his impression of World War II — it's an amalgamation of accents, sound effects and war songs.
- Brick Joke: In one episode, Tim explains that they'll be broadcasting Rigoletto in two parts. This is immediately followed by a cry of "Rigo—". Fifteen minutes later, we hear a cry of "—letto!"
- Butt Monkey: Denis, who was frequently insulted by the others about his musical ability and height.
- Cannot Tell a Joke: Denis suffered from this. It wasn't so much that he forgot the jokes as it was that his smarmy delivery impacted the humor, and the fact that he'd usually make some sort of happily self-satisfied comment afterwards didn't help.
- Captain Obvious: Dudley Function.
Barry: And now, Dudley Function will talk about his garden.
Dudley: It's at the back of my house, and it's got leaves and flowers in it!
- Cargo Ship: Invoked in one episode, when Barry mentions his irresistible attraction to string. John sneers in contempt, before explaining that a bar of soap is different.
- Cast Full of Writers: Everyone, except for Denis.
- The Cast Show Off: The songs.
- Catchphrase: See Mad Libs Catch Phrase and Share Phrase. The only 'straight' catchphrase was lampshaded — whenever there was a courtroom sketch, Denis would get the line "Silence in court! Silence in court!". Later in the show's run, he'd refer to it as his catchphrase and claim he was famous for it.
- Celebrity Resemblance: Parodied — in one episode, Tim, Barry and Denis all confuse John for Doris Day. Especially surreal as John is middle-aged, male, and bald.
- Corpsing: Happened occassionally, and was always coupled with Throw It In. There's one notable instance in the first episode of the TV series — the sketch stops dead for fifteen seconds while the audience go into hysterics and the cast try to compose themselves.
- The Danza: Everyone.
- Double Entendre: So, so very often. Lampshaded and invoked a lot.
John: And I'll tell you something else that's not much fun on the radio, but a lot of fun on the couch—
Tim: Hello, BBC censor here. It sounded to me like you were going to do a rude joke. Well, I'll tell you that if you try to do that, I will have it off. No, er—I'll cut it off. I—I'll take it out and show it to the Director-General—I'd like to take this opportunity of handing in my resignation.
- In fact, double entendres were used to such an extent that at one point, Barry is asked to tell a clean joke. There's awkward silence for a few seconds, before he says that he doesn't know any clean jokes.
- Ending Theme: See Title Theme Tune.
- Exact Words: Invoked.
Barry: Don't talk to me about the Osmond Brothers!
Tim & John: Alright.
- Favouritism Flip Flop: Used, after John gets annoyed with some of the ridiculous names in a sketch.
John: Who thinks up these names?!
Tim: Head of Radio 2.
John: Bloody good, aren't they?
Tim: Very, very good indeed.
- Gag Series
- The Glasses Gotta Go: Parodied. In one sketch, a manager is talking tenderly to his secretary, finally asking her to take off her glasses. She claims that she can hardly see without them — he says he doesn't care. She takes them off...and he runs off with her handbag.
- Homoerotic Subtext: There was a lot of it hovering around. Always, always joked about.
Barry: (after a ballet sketch) Hello. I'm Barry Cryer, and I didn't appear in that sketch because I don't hold with that sort of thing. I smoke a pipe, and play a lot of rugby, and...oh, god, Denis has got lovely eyes...ah! I mean...go into the song, darling!
- Hypocritical Humor: From episode nine of the TV series:
Denis: Hi fans, it's me again — Mr. Lovable. (turns to other band members) Will you shut up when I'm talking?!
- Impossible Insurance: In one episode, there's a parody ad for 'Furtive Insurance', which has you covered if you're kicked by a stag in the London Underground or stabbed by a Guatemalan midget in church. "Remember the name...Furtive Insurance! Our motto — take the money and run."
- Incredibly Lame Pun: In one episode, John is shot for making a terrible pun, which leads into a lengthy parody of a dying scene.
- Insane Troll Logic: This conversation ensues in the TV series:
Denis: And speaking of John Betjeman...
Barry: ...That was five minutes ago!
Denis: Well, yes, but you must remember that when I cross over from the piano, I cross the international date line. I'm here with you now — over there, I haven't even woken up yet!
Barry: We can hardly tell the difference anyway!
Denis: How dare you! You'll hear from me tomorrow — or, as I call it, Wednesday.
- Is This Thing Still On?: One episode started with this:
John: Did I ever catch my what in a mangle?
Barry: I was just—the green light's on.
- Knock Knock Joke: Subverted.
Tim: Knock, knock.
John: Who's there?
Tim: Oh, you've heard it...
- Larynx Dissonance: Tim's mother, voiced by John.
- Least Rhymable Word: See Musical Gag.
- Mad Libs Catch Phrase: There were three that were shared by all the cast. "Meanwhile, at X, not a thousand miles from Y", "Little-known facts that nobody cares about, number X" and "Home hints for the handyman, number X". Used exclusively by Denis was "Hi, fans! Denis "Nickname" King here!"
- Meanwhile, Back at the...: The basis of the catchphrase "Meanwhile" — although as it was used here, it didn't change between storylines so much as simply provide an excuse to do a Smash Cut from one sketch to another.
- Metaphorgotten: Occassionally.
John: A story to stir the blood, quicken the senses, thicken the gravy, peel the potatoes, hoover the carpet, tote that barge, lift that bail, get a little drunk and you end up buying the producer large gins all night...
- Mistaken for Gay: Tim and Barry were both married — John wasn't. This comes up in conversation during one episode of the TV series.
Tim: Barry, uh...John, is he...(makes limp-wristed hand gesture)
Tim: No, no, no, is he...(puts hand on hip, makes the gesture again)
Barry: ...A teapot?
Tim: No, is he...(blows kisses)
Barry: ...To hell with John, give us a kiss!
- Momma's Boy: Tim. A variation, as Tim's mother is not so much My Beloved Smother as a deep-voiced street hoodlum.
- Musical Gag: The song I've Fallen For A Girl Called Agnes, which has no steady rhythm as the singer can never finish a verse, owing to the fact that nothing rhymes with Agnes.
- My Local: The Duck & Pullet, and the alternate version, the Cock & Wallet.
- No Fourth Wall: Characters read letters from their fans, explained technical hitches, or otherwise addressed their listener ("hello, Eric").
- Orphaned Punchline: "So the midget in the top hat said "No madam, not in these trousers!""
- "...Which just goes to show he could have painted it blue and joined the police."
- Overly Preprepared Gag: A Running Gag was that Tim would announce a joke, immediately followed by Barry telling an old joke in an overly verbose manner. The sheer length with which he managed to have the jokes drag on made them into this trope — even if you've figured out what the joke is halfway through.
- Overused Running Gag: A variation — even though the sketches that "broadcast three programmes at one and the same time" had new jokes every time, the formula was treated as being this trope.
Tim: And now, we present...three programmes at one and the same time.
Barry: We've done it before, and we'll do it again!
John: Have we no shame?
- Phrase Catcher: The appearance of Dudley Function would always be followed by someone muttering "The man's a fool!"
- Produce Pelting: Invoked and played to an extreme in one episode of the TV series. Barry performs another parody Silly Love Song, about being struck by various forms of food ("How'd ya like to squirt me with a soda siphon, baby? / How'd ya like to hit me with a pie?"). He performs it twice — the first time, it's just sung. The second time, John and Tim attack him with what he's singing about while he sings. (This includes being pelted with tomatoes, struck down with pies, hosed down with seltzer and smashed over the head with eggs.)
- When this was performed on the radio series, it obviously lost the visual.
- Pun: A staple of the show's humor.
- Punny Name: Some of the names they made up (Duncan Disorderly, Hamish Wheretheheartis). Some were just silly (Nosmo Thrup, Gladys Upchurch).
- Rapid-Fire Comedy: And how. Barry Cryer once described the show with the statement that "one minute was considered to be an excessively long sketch".
- Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: Occassionally, often regarding sound effects.
Barry: We hope to bring you some laughter, and to bring—bring...oh, sorry, that's a sound effect.
Tim: I say, have you seen this in the paper? It says 'rustles paper'...oh, sorry. (rustles paper)
- Recurring Character: Many, frequently with one specific type of joke allocated to them. There was Dudley Function, a man with No Indoor Voice who said obvious things and slurped every syllable — Tom Filth, a well-intentioned interviewer who kept tumbling down Freudian Slippery Slopes — Monty Oddbin, a loud, violent parody of the 'lovable Cockney' type of character — George Dull, an utterly boring roving reporter — and Professor Schweineken, who frequently misunderstood other people due to his loose grasp of English.
- Running Gag: People calling in to complain about the programme. One specific complainer deserves special mention...a man who kept calling up claiming to be people he obviously wasn't. These include Mary Whitehouse, The Archbishop of Canterbury, Moira Anderson, and a sheep.
- The different categories of jokes (see Share Phrase) — a home hint for the handyman would always be an Incredibly Lame Pun, a meanwhile would always be a quick sketch, a newsflash would always be either of the above or satire.
- Any cast member singing a short excerpt from a song, then making a joke based on the lyrics. ("When you walk through the storm, hold your head up high...and the rain will go right up your nose.")
- "And now, ladies and gentlemen...a joke." See Overly Preprepared Gag.
- In addition to these, a lot of episodes established running gags at some point in the episode that carried on throughout.
- Self-Deprecation: All the time. Hello Cheeky's Postbag was an occassional section of the show in which the cast read 'letters from the fans'. Everyone who listened to the show were either out of their minds or hated it.
"Dear Hello Cheeky — your programme brings a breath of fresh air into my life. Every time it comes on, I go outside."
- Share Phrase: Many.
- "Did you know...?"
- "This is a newsflash. (swoosh)"
- "Your private life is your own concern!"
- "...And they were never seen again."
- Silly Love Songs: Often parodied. Moderately In Love With You is worth a mention.
You aren't quite driving me really insane
But affect a small part of my brain
Like a glass of non-vintage champagne
- Small Name, Big Ego: Denis. In one episode of the TV series, he even refers to himself as Denis "Small Roles, Big Personality" King.
- Sound to Screen Adaptation: The TV series in 1976, in which much material was recycled.
- Special Effects Failure: Occurs sometimes in the TV series, but the worst cases were usually lampshaded.
Barry: The flat downstairs has caught fire?! By jove, how bad is it? (opens door)
(two seconds of silence, then a lone wisp of smoke)
Barry: (shuts door) Oh, there's no escape! It's a raging inferno out there!
- In another sketch, a monster is terrorizing cavemen. The monster is rather blatantly a hand puppet projected on the back wall with greenscreen. The scene goes on for a bit...then Denis, operating the hand puppet, leans into shot, talks to his fans for a bit, then leaves.
Tim: Have you ever seen something so terrifying!?
Barry: I once saw him doing cabaret with his brothers.
- Special Guest: A rather self-aware variation. There were a few episodes with guest stars, and a great deal of jokes in those episodes revolved around exaggerations of the guest's personality and the guest being baffled by or adapting to the show. (Joan Bakewell discovered she enjoyed making jokes and turned into an amateur comedienne — Sir Terry Wogan kept his distance and made snarky comments about the "three aging funsters".)
- Also, there were a few special episodes with a lot more guest stars. These almost took the format of Variety Shows, with the regular cast just doing comic interludes and introductions.
- Spiritual Successor: To Im Sorry Ill Read That Again. Both shows featured a cast — including Tim Brooke-Taylor — who played themselves as characters and knew they were in a show, and — in the first seasons — shared a producer in David Hatch. As the first season of Hello Cheeky and the last season of I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again ran shortly after each other, the former was actually mentioned in the latter...
David: I'm one of the most talented producers of our time! Good heavens...I produced Hello Cheeky! ...But a man's allowed one mistake, isn't he?