Series / The Fast Show

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'Suit you, sir!'

British sketch-based show in The '90s. One of the best British comedies of the decade.

Lots of regular characters, and lots of regular catchphrases. "Suit you, Sir", "Does my bum look big in this?", "I'll get me coat" (which was used a lot on Outpost Gallifrey), "I'm a little bit wooh, a little bit waaay", "...which was nice", "I'm afraid I was very, very drunk" and so on. Singlehandedly added several Stock British Phrases to the language.

According to creator Paul Whitehouse, the show's format was inspired by when he was working on Harry Enfield and Chums and made a five-minute reel of highlight clips (mostly sketch punchlines) to send to the BBC to be used in previews - he then decided that "character comes on, someone shouts 'ARSE!', bang, next sketch!" was actually funnier than the usual sketch buildup, and created a show around that format (hence "fast").

Probably the best known celebrity fan of the show is Johnny Depp, who allegedly kept trying to insert its catchphrases into the Pirates of the Caribbean films.


This TV show provides examples of:

  • The Ace: Monkfish, who has been a tough, uncompromising detective, a tough, uncompromising doctor and a tough, uncompromising vet amongst other things. He even got an adaptation on Channel 9 called "MOOOOOOOOOOOONKFISSSSSCH!".
  • Affably Evil: Chris, the Crafty Cockney.
  • Affectionate Parody: Jazz Club, of 'Whispering' Bob Harris of the Old Grey Whistle Test, and artsy late night music show Later with Jools Holland... Great. Wonderful.
    • Arthur Atkinson is a (mostly) affectionate parody of Arthur Askey.
    • As is narrator Tommy Cockles of Denis Norden
    • Ron Manager was very much an affectionate parody of Jimmy Hill.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Ron Manager (and Tommy too)
    • In one sketch, Ron starts rambling on about BSE (Mad Cow Disease), and eventually ends up telling us that parts of the dead cows are used in the cosmetics industry.
      Ron: ... which is another good reason not to kiss girls!
    • Ron and Tommy have also spent discussing which football players are the most attractive (and which ones used to be but have lost it now).

  • Armour Piercing Question: Parodied in a set of sketches where a criminal played by Mark Williams is subjected to Perp Sweating with no success, only for a George Smiley expy to turn up and ask him a question in an innocuous tone that leads to him accidentally revealing everything. "Aha!" "...Shit!"
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Played for Laughs with Channel 9 TV. Scorchio!
    Ethethethethetheth, ethehethethetheth, ethethetheth, Chris Waddle!
    Buono Estenté. Elácrimos y sputá é fálio ming di pucco-poco wikhjawikh pátandara Milio Pátagonia.
  • Banana Republic: The country that produces Channel 9 (only identified as 'Repubblica') was eventually shown to be one complete with a dictator known only as El Presidenté.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: "Suits you, sir!" was never ever said; the line was always "Suit you, sir!"
  • Berserk Button: Johnny Nice Painter is a perfectly harmless man painting watercolours (and apparently narrating them for a tv show) right up to the moment he happens to mention the colour black. Then he quickly sinks into depressive darkness leading to insane ranting and smashing things.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Ralph is a very nice, calm person, but he will snap and yell at anyone who insults Ted.
    • A good example of this is when Ralph is out shooting in the grounds with Clive, a fellow landowner. Clive keeps insulting Ted (including picking on him for being Irish and expecting him to do menial jobs like cleaning his shoes), and Ralph visibly gets more and more tense and irritated, before finally snapping:
      Ralph (Screaming and grabbing Clive's jacket): LEAVE HIM ALONE! LEAVE! HIM! ALONE!
  • Bi the Way: Ted. He is happily married to his wife, but seems to reciprocate Ralph’s feelings towards him too.
  • British Stuffiness: combined with UST in the "Ted and Ralph" sketches.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Rowley Birkin QC actually is a retired barrister. Given how Queen's Counsel members are elicted on merit, this suggests that, for all his eccentricities and drunkenness, he was an incredibly good one.
  • Butt Monkey: Chester Drawers is that to Arthur Atkinson in the Show Within The Show.
  • California Doubling: the "Shore Leave" song, supposedly in New York, is clearly filmed in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
  • Catch Phrase/Mad Libs Catch Phrase: Millions. Some characters are only even named by their catchphrases.
    • The Suit You Tailors: "Oh, suit you sir!" "Were you out with a lady last night sir?" "Did she want it, sir?"
    • Rowley Birkin QC: Variations on "...and I freely admit I was vey, vey drunk"
    • The Off-Roaders: "Gripped." "Sorted." "Let's off-road!"
    • Billy Bleach: "There's someone sitting there, mate."
    • Chanel 9: "Bono estente" ('Hello'), "Boutros-Boutros Ghali" (Goodbye, among other things), "Ethethethetheth, ethethetheth", "Svinky Pinky", "Chris Waddle" and "Scorchio". The commercial breaks included "(insert function here) Gizmo" and "Action Pumpo".
    • The Insecure Woman: "Does my bum look big in this?"
    • Jazz Club: "Nice". "Great".
    • Mr Nice: "...Which was nice."
    • Jesse: "This week, I are been mostly (verb)ing..."
    • Brilliant Kid: "Int X brilliant?!" (His dad has "Int X rubbish?!")
    • 13th Duke of Wybourne: "Me, the 13th Duke of Wybourne? Here? In (place)? With my reputation?"
    • Ed Winchester: "Hi, I'm Ed Winchester!"
    • Swiss Toni: "(Verb)ing a (noun), Paul, is very much like making love to a beautiful woman..."
    • Ron Manager: Variations on "Football, eh? Little boys in the park, jumpers for goalposts...marvellous."
    • Johnny Nice Painter: "...Black? Black! BLACK! (goes off into insane rant)
    • Simon Day's high-rise builder character: "I can't do the accent" (before proceeding to do an excellent job at imitating a completely different accent) and variations on "Was he F--"
    • Monkfish: "You! Put your knickers on and make me a cup of tea!"
    • Arthur Atkinson: "Have you seen it? Have you seen it? Where's me washboard? How queer!"
    • Ted and Ralph: Sort of; while the storyline was a lot more naturalistic and down-to-earth than most of the other characters, and based less on catch-phrases, several of Ralph's fumbling and awkward encounters with Ted would inevitably end with one or the other babbling or muttering something about "the drainage in the lower field".
      • Most of the catchphrases were played with in the final episode, e.g "... which is a shame."
  • The Character Died with Him: Taggart`s use of this trope (continuing for years after the title character died with his actor) is parodied in universe in "The Last Fast Show Ever", when Monkfish actor John Actor dies, only to be given a new show: "John Actor plays a tough, uncompromising, dead Scottish detective in MCMONKFISH!"
  • Chew Toy: In the Arthur Atkinson sketches, his sidekick Chester Drawers spends the whole time getting injured by Arthur and generally treated like crap. In The Fast Show Live, he finally snaps:
    Arthur: (To audience) Eh? Have you seen it? Have you seen it? Have you seen it?
    (Chester comes up behind him as Arthur continues to ask the question.)
    Chester: (Smashing a washboard over Arthur's head) There's your FUCKING washboard!
  • Couch Gag: In the first series, each episode starts with Paul Whitehouse as cabaret singer "Kenny Valentine" singing "Release Me" while something different happens to him, usually his face or body being distorted by visual effects. On one occasion he was even briefly transformed into "Jenny Valentine".
  • Country Matters: "Country Matters" is the name of a farming programme whose hosts have unfortunately suggestive Verbal Tics. The title is presumably not accidental.
  • Cowboy Cop: Monkfish starts out as a parody of this trope, before (presumably due to "John Actor" being typecast) applying the same attitude to other jobs in other shows he appears in.
  • Curse Cut Short: The main joke in the sketches where Simon Day and Mark Williams play builders on a high-rise—all the sketches end on something like "And was he? Was he F-"
    • Billy Bleach was talking about people he knew with parents of different nationalities and how that affected their personalities. He concluded with a man whose mother was French and whose father was French. "He's a c-"
  • Drinking Game: Ted and his friends in the "Ted and Ralph" sketches have one which involves saying the name of a different vegetable before every word. See Mood Whiplash below.
  • Everything Is an Instrument: Bob Fleming and friends perform The Wild Rover.
  • Gratuitous English and Inherently Funny Words - Channel 9, and Rowley Birkin QC ("Poisonous Monkeys!")
  • Handsome Lech: The 13th Duke of Wybourne.
  • Hollywood Tourette's: Jed Thomas ARSE!
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: In a documentary about the show, Harry Enfield acted as an exaggerated, bitter version of himself complaining about how "I CREATED THEM!!" and now The Fast Show is more popular than his own show.
  • Insistent Terminology: Monkfish is always a "tough, uncompromising..." whatever occupation he's playing in his latest show, regardless of whether this makes sense or not.
  • Fan Dumb: Invoked in the case of Archie the Pub Bore, specifically the Monomaniac variety. Every conversation he butts into he will ultimately turn into a lecture about Frank Sinatra.
  • Funny Background Event: In the Dave Angel sketches, Shirley is often doing the exact thing Dave is warning against in the background whilst he is talking to the camera e.g. When Dave is warning against using aerosols, Shirley can be seen using an aerosol in the background.
  • Jerkass: Arthur Atkinson, both in and out of character.
  • Jizzed in My Pants: Sorry, I've just cum
  • Just Like Making Love: Swiss Toni delivering his catchphrase is very much like making love to a beautiful woman...
  • Le Film Artistique: Subverted to humourous effect in this clip.
  • Looks Like Orlok: "Monster, monster!"
  • Lost in Transmission: About nine tenths of everything Rowley Birkin says, thanks to his half-sober mumbling.
  • Mad Libs Catch Phrase: Most of the catchphrases were like this.
  • Mood Whiplash: Quite frequent in some of the longer running sketches.
    Rowley Birkin: "mumble mumble....she passed away in my arms...mumble mumble....I'm afraid I was very, very drunk." very much a departure from his other sketches which all ended comedically.
  • Mushroom Samba: The Offroaders, on a survival expedition, go half-arsed on the survival part and agree to a compromise by ordering a plain pizza but will top it with the wild mushrooms they have just found. Next time we see them, one of them is tripping out, referring to himself as "The Mushroom God".
  • My Local: setting of many sketches, especially the Pub Bore.
  • Narration Echo: Done in a one-off documentary-style sketch with Arabella Weir as a marine biologist. After the narrator has echoed her a few times, they accidentally talk over each other and get into an argument where he starts insulting her.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Jazz Club features a Nigel Kennedy lookalike, and a character called Jeremy Kwee singing about chocolate on his Ferrari, who in no way resembles Jamiroquai.
    • Jazz Club's host's voice was also inspired by that of radio DJ "Whistling" Bob Harris.
  • Noble Bigot with a Badge: Monkfish. Upon arriving at a crime scene, he tells the widow of the deceased to "put your knickers on and go make me a cup of tea!"
  • Non-Specifically Foreign: Chanel 9
  • Overly Long Gag:
  • Paintball Episode: played for laughs as the Off-Roaders are supposed to be useless at all the extreme sports they try.
  • The Parody: The films of Guy Ritchie, such as Snatch. ("It's a Right Royal Cockney Barrel of Monkeys"), the musical On the Town ("Shore Leave") and the classic movie Whiskey Galore ("Heroin Galore").
    • The aforementioned Le Film Artistique entry is a parody of a similar scene from Le Mepris.
  • Positive Discrimination: Subverted with the Insecure Woman, and an incomprehensible Jive Turkey.
  • Promoted Fanboy: Johnny Depp appeared in one of the "Suit you, sir!" sketches. (If you want to do this, it helps to be Johnny Depp.)
  • Pun: "...which was Nice" became this when used to describe flying into a particular French airport.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: An instrumental version of "Release Me".
  • Running Gag: Very many within the sketches, and also a few that crossed over between different ones, such as "Cheesey Peas" (which started out as 'an advertisement for Northern types before getting a Chanel 9 version, a posh version, being mentioned in Brilliant Kid's rambling monologue, etc.)
  • Ship Tease: In the Fast Show Live with Ted & Ralph.
  • Sketch Comedy
  • Something Else Also Rises: In the later Arthur Atkinson sketch "Confessions of a Cucumber Salesman," a door-to-door cucumber salesman offers a sexy woman his produce. When the woman turns and bends over to pick up her dog, showing off her rear, the salesman tilts the cucumber in his hand until it points straight upwards (complete with "boing" sound effect).
  • Spin-Off: Lots, though none have ever matched the popularity of the original.
    • Ted and Ralph got their own one-off drama to wrap up loose ends (which also featured Rowley Birkin as a barrister).
    • Swiss Toni got a short-lived sitcom on BBC 3 with Simon Day's alcoholic businessman character incorporated into his staff.
    • Billy Bleach got his own show, Grass.
    • Brilliant Kid had a popular milk advertising campaign ("Int milk brilliant?!")
    • The Suit You Sir tailors have advertised both Holsten Pils beer and the mobile phone store Phones 4U.
    • Simon Day played a version of his 'Dave Angel, Eco-warrior' character (but without the costume) for a series of bookend idents for a power company sponsoring ITV Weather. Dave Angel and Billy Bleach both appeared on Day's 2011 radio sitcom The Simon Day Show.
    • Ron Manager and the other characters in his sketches hosted (in-character) a short-lived Sky One sports-themed Panel Game, Jumpers For Goalposts.
    • Insecure Woman became Jackie Payne, the heroine of Arabella Weir's novel Does My Bum Look Big In This?
  • Sticky Fingers: Chris the Crafty Cockney, who constantly reminds people that he's 'a geezer' and will 'nick anything'. Due to his upfront nature, a lot of people don't believe him, only for him to immediately steal their belongings and run off with them. One sketch implies that he really is a kleptomaniac - his friend asks him to watch his stall for him, and, despite Chris telling him repeatedly that their friendship won't stop him stealing his stuff, he leaves Chris their unattended. Sure enough, Chris steals his money, but he doesn't look happy as he does so.
  • Talks Like a Simile: Swiss Toni. Always the same simile, too:
    Swiss Toni: Going to the brink of death and back, in a nine car pile-up on a dual carriageway, is very much like making love to a beautiful woman. First of all, brace yourself, hold on tight - particularly if it's a rear-ender. Pray you make contact with her twin airbags as soon as possible.
    • Though when he had a nervous breakdown he descended into Metaphorgotten:
    Swiss Toni: Answering the phone, Paul, is very much like making love to a beautiful woman. You...pick up...the receiver...speak loudly and clearly...oh, and always state your name...(To himself) You're losing it, Toni...
  • Team Dad: Parodied/exaggerated with Competitive Dad.
  • That Syncing Feeling: When Arthur Atkinson appears in a 1950s film (which Tommy Cockles explains as a decade when films were interrupted by 'pointless song and dance numbers that added nothing to the story.'), Tommy Cockles explains that, as Arthur couldn't sing, he was made to mime to a popular singer at the time. Cue Arthur miming horrendously to a voice that sounds nothing like his own, and tap-dancing on the grass.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: When the Offroaders go on a Survival Expedition, they end up eating mushrooms that are probably toxic, judging by the way Simon is tripping and calling himself the Mushroom God. In the background, Lyndsay is doubling over, and the sound of him retching can be heard.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Part 2 of the Last Fast Show Ever special features four of the cast playing annoying young people in a Cheesy Peas advert. At the end of the episode, we see them again, and it is obvious the Cheesy Peas has done something to them, because one of them is crying, one keeps rushing out of the room to vomit, and another is doubled over puking in full view.
  • Waxing Lyrical:
    • A favourite of Ron Manager (and occasionally Tommy).
    • Colin Hunt spends an entire sketch doing this, and manages to get two of his colleagues doing it too (the other just gets more and more pissed off).
  • Write Who You Know:
    • Simon Day admits to basing "Competitive Dad" on a man he saw at a public swimming pool, who challenged his children to a race and then swam away at top speed leaving them to struggle behind him.
    • This inspiration formed part of the very last Competitive Dad sketch, where we see a video recording of Competitive Dad's own father doing it to him as a child.
    • Rowley Birkin QC was based on a similarly incomprehensible (English) person Paul Whitehouse met in Iceland - although his style also owes something to ventriloquist Ray Alan's puppet Lord Charles.
    • One of Arabella Weir's characters is a woman who suggests something to a group of arguing men, only for them to totally ignore her and hear the suggestion as though one of them had made it. This, as Whitehouse and Higson wryly realised on reading the first sketch, was her commentary on how they tended to treat her in script meetings.
    • Insecure Woman was suggested to Weir by the others, based on herself.
    • Swiss Toni was apparently based on several different real car salesmen.
    • The Suit You Tailors were based on a real person, but oddly enough, a bank manager rather than a tailor.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Series/TheFastShow