Series: Harry Hill's TV Burp
There's only one way to find out - FIIIGHT!Ear cataracts?
The United Kingdom's answer to Mystery Science Theater 3000
and/or The Soup
. The series ran from 2001 to 2012. Comedian Harry Hill went through television programmes that had been shown that week, often Soap Operas
or one-shot documentaries, and lampoons them - for weak acting, bad writing, or general WTF-factor. It's a highly Affectionate Parody
, though, with lots of silly facial expressions, cuddly Radio 4 innuendo and episode-long Running Gags
. Once an Episode
, two characters, concepts or something which Hill finds particularly notable would have a slapstick fight on stage.
It was a silly program, but surprisingly intelligent, and genuinely funny. In many ways, it's what snarky web review shows would be if they had a budget and access to the real actors and sets from TV shows - Hill uses the latter to insert himself into scenes from this week's TV and sometimes even interact with the characters.
Contains examples of:
- The Abridged Series: The This Week's [Programme] In A Nutshell jokes. The most common is This Week's Apprentice In A Nutshell, which usually consists of a few seconds of a candidate explaining why they're great at a specific task, followed by Lord Sugar's finger of doom pointing them out of the boardroom. Another recurring example is This Week's River Cottage In A Nutshell, which involves Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall taking care of some farm animals, followed by a clip of him eating their meat.
- Adam Westing
- Affectionate Parody: The vast majority of his mockery of programmes is done in this manner, which is doubtless the reason why so many programmes' actors play along and appear on his show.
- Ascended Extra: Knitted Character, literally a prop from Eastenders for a few episodes before becoming a fully-fledged character on Burp.
- Aside Glance (Unusual version in which Harry glances aside at a different camera and makes a quip after his own feeder line - usually him quoting the official description of a programme)
- Big Word Shout: SALMOOOOOOOON!
- Biting-the-Hand Humor: Generally at the expense of home channel ITV- although the first episode where the studio changed to be filmed at Television Centre liberally sprinkled mockery of a BBC show with comments about the licence fee.
- Breaking the Reviewer's Wall: Harry often invades or otherwise manipulates scenes in the shows he reviews.
- Brick Joke/Running Gag: usually over one episode, occasionally over entire series. Bonus points for the number of times things in programmes manage to work themselves into running gags.
- Catch Phrase: There's only one way to find out - FIGHT!
- Censored for Comedy: A wildlife presenter looking for king penguins was changed, with the addition of a few well-placed censor bleeps, into a wildlife presenter looking for "***king penguins!"
- Continuity Lockout: A lot of the Running Gag sections require knowledge of previous episodes (the jelly and fight competitors). A few of them are even jokes based on apparently cancelled programmes (Chippy chiiiiips!).
- Cool Versus Awesome: Some of the "fiiiiiiiiight!"s are along these lines.
- Critical Annoyance: A common gag as he gets progressively more irritated with someone on a programme getting something consistently wrong in a series of clips before snapping. For example, in The Apprentice someone dressed up as a glove mascot for a company kept introducing himself as "Mr Glove" when it was supposed to be "Mr G. Love", and after correcting him several times with increasing annoyance, Harry bursts into the original scene and starts beating him while yelling "IT'S NOT MR GLOVE, IT'S MR G. LOVE!".
- Curb-Stomp Battle: The "fiiiiight" between God and the Devil.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Decon-Recon Switch: Of one of his own Running Gags, no less:
Freaky Eaters Narrator: For the last ten years, Simon has eaten nothing but biscuits.
Harry Hill: [completely deadpan] Biscuits. Yeah I've stopped doing the silly voices now, because it's actually quite a serious condition.
[later, after watching Simon's family giving him messages of support]
Harry Hill: Hi Simon. [shouting] Just stop eating biscuits! Just stop eating them! Just stop eating biccy-wic, biccy-wic, bic-wic-wiccy-wic, Kitkat, Kitkat, Toffee Crisp, Toffee Crisp, Toffee Toffee Toffee Toffee...
- Department of Redundancy Department: The Many Faces of Jimmy King's Face
- Description Cut
- Don't Explain the Joke: He occasionally does this as part of a deliberately Overly Long Gag, such as when he explained that he had amusingly been mishearing "axolotl" as "thanks a lot".
- Don't Try This at Home: Never played straight. For example, in the 2012 series a washing machine falls off a scrapyard magnet and lands on his head, after which he says "Don't try this at home, kids!", does his Aside Glance and adds: "And the thought never occurred to you until I said it!"
- Duels Decide Everything: "But which is better? There's only one way to find out - FIGHT!"
- Early Installment Weirdness: The show took several years to settle its format. For example, there was more emphasis on sketches, and the 'fights' could happen at any time and they showed one side winning, whereas in later series the 'fight' always happens at the end of part 1 and we don't see who wins due to the advert break. Given the nature of the show it might be more accurate to describe this as Early Installment Less-Weirdness.
- Face Heel Revolving Door: The Knitted Character turned on Harry for replacing him with Mr Fuzzy. At the end of the series, he showed up to help Harry.
- Foreign Remake - An Australian version, hosted by Ed Kavalee (Thank God You're Here) broadcast in 2009.
- Grand Finale: The show more or less wrapped up in the last three minutes when Cheryl Ferguson confronted Harry over the portrayal of her EastEnders character, Heather, on the show. Cue a cover of "Someone Like You" by Harry, Cheryl, Heather, Kitted Character, Wagbo and Amanda Lamb. It seems almost like any other ending, however, the credits played a solemn piano version of the theme followed by a stinger of "It's Over" using a clip of Phil Mitchell in a recent EastEnders episode.
- Gratuitous French: Happens with one of the fights.
- Hong Kong Dub: Whenever Harry's actions are supposed to be synched to taped sounds (such as when he plays a musical instrument) he will always get it wrong towards the end as a joke. He also usually doesn't bother not moving his lips when acting as a ventriloquist.
- Ho Yay: Invoked between Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and a swimmer.
- I Am Not Spock: Played with when Harry refers to Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard.
- Ink-Suit Actor: Kind of... Harry's became the cover star of The Dandy, beloved Long Runner in British comics. He even writes it!
- It Makes Sense in Context: a lot of the funny comes from presenting such moments entirely out of context.
- Killed Off for Real: The Knitted Character. They got a different one and his Unexplained Recovery is lampshaded.
- Lighter and Softer: The show became less edgy and more family-friendly over time, acquiring a primetime slot (but, if anything, became funnier).
- Living Prop: Lampshaded in "TV Burp Stars of Tomorrow, Today!" - fake talent-spotting sections showing a clip of an extra reading a particularly mundane line, walking across a room, or similar.
- Long Runners: Has been running for over a decade.
- Long Title: Some of the "...of the week" sketches.
- Mondegreen: TV Bur Smidge of the Week
- Mood Killer: Harry will often do this to some Narm, often by being Captain Obvious to a rhetorical question.
- Mutually Fictional:
- An episode of Law & Order: UK had a photofit picture of a suspect dubbed "Harry Hill" due to its resemblance to Harry—then the incident was used as the basis for a sketch on TV Burp...
- EastEnders also referenced the 'FIIIIIIGHT' catchphrase at one point.
- Mythology Gag: A Fight between a fake coyote and a fake badger from a wildlife programme elicits a "Come on, Mr Badger- for the parade is in but half an hour!", a Call Back to his old Channel Four show.
- "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Usually when a BBC Three programme is featured, such as Young Butcher of the Year.
- The Other Darrin: Lampshaded in two episodes where the character of Wagbo is portrayed by a different actor. He then returns. And forms a tag-team with the Other Wagbo.
Harry: "You shouldn't have gone on holiday!"
- Overly Long Gag: Ear cataracts?, as mentioned above and many others like watching an old extra walk across a room.
- This is also used to point out something from another show that wasn't a gag, but still remained Overly Long, such as the prizes in The Gadget Show's phone in competition.
- Amanda Laaaaaaaaamb! Amanda Laaaaaaaaamb! Everybody loves Amanda Laaaaaaaaamb!
- Parrot Exposition: The famous "cataracts" and "ear cataracts" sketches. It was about Val from Emmerdale finding out she has cataracts and all of the characters who are there at the reveal repeat the word "cataracts?" over and over again. Later she's accused by a man for getting upset over a misunderstanding and she asks if her ears have cataracts as well. Both times Harry asks "[ear] cataracts?" and telephones somebody which starts a chain of characters or presenters repeating the word(s).
- Precision F-Strike: Dropped on the 2004 series when God strikes Jeremy Bowen for doubting Noah's Ark, saying "Don't fuck with me, Bowen!". This was when the show was still in the Darker and Edgier late-night slot, compared to the latter Lighter and Softer Saturday night prime-time slot it's probably better known to be shown at.
- Real Men Cook: Averted. A Running Gag is Harry being unimpressed or even offended by TV chefs' insistence on trying to evangelise cooking to the masses, and he often makes jokes based on him living entirely off microwaved ready meals.
- Rhymes on a Dime: The "TV Burp Poetry Corner" segment, which picks out lines from soaps and dramas which (presumably inadvertently) rhyme.
- Running Gag: Too many to list. Often lampshaded, such as when the jelly is accidentally ruined, Harry laments "I got thirty seconds a show out of that!"
- Simpleton Voice: Harry does a distinctive 'breathy' one, speaking as though his nose is blocked, when imitating obviously stupid characters.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: Inappropriately Upbeat Music of the Week
- The Stinger - Since the 2009 series, an out of context clip from a random show is played before the Avalon Television logo.
- Stylistic Suck: Often. The two most common examples are Harry doing ventriloquism (in a bad "gottle of geer" fashion) and him playing his bongos ("I like to play my bongos in the morrrrrr-ning!" or another instrument, only for the dubbed sound to carry on after he's finished playing.
- This Is Unforgivable!
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall: There we have a Full English Breakfast Salad...
Harry: That is a crime against God!
- Ventriloquism: A common gag is for him to interpret the voiceover on nature programmes as being the animals speaking. He also sometimes does this himself with prop dummies (particularly one of Alan Sugar) but, as part of the joke, does it in a deliberately bad "gottle of geer" fashion.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Harry is quite adept at the Comedic Sociopathy. His treatment of The Knitted Character has raised quite a few eyebrows. Possibly inspired by Brian Conley's earlier "IT'S A PUPPET!!" sketches.
- Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: The "fight" segments often feature two bizarrely unconnected people or things, like a shark and a toaster, or Phil Mitchell and Mr Blobby...
- Who's on First?: The story on a chimp called "Ai", which turns into a whole sketch about the sister Yu, the brother Mi and so on.