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Series / Absolutely

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Stoneybridge: We're games if you are!note 

Absolutely is a British Sketch Show which ran between 1989 and 1993. It owed something of its style to Monty Python's Flying Circus (consisting of six writer/performers, weird animation sequences and sketches running into each other), but relied more on recurring characters than the Monty Python team did. Although it was never a particular ratings winner, it is still fondly remembered and can, in retrospect, be seen as a forerunner to similar character-based sketch shows such as The Fast Show and Little Britain. The six performers were the Scottish Jack Docherty, Gordon Kennedy, Moray Hunter and Peter Baikie, with the Welsh John Sparkes and the (honorary Celt) Cornish Morwenna Banks.

Recurring characters included;

  • MacGlashan - a rabid Scots nationalist (played by Jack Docherty)
  • Calum Gilhooley - Introduced as 'the most boring man in Scotland' (played by Moray Hunter). In the first series he would always annoy his neighbour about his love for anoraks and Honda motorbikes, before pestering everyone else he spoke to in later series
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  • Mr Don & Mr George - two flatmates who inhabited their own bizarre universe (played by Jack Docherty & Moray Hunter). They went on to their own Spin-Off Series.
  • The Little Girl (played by Morwenna Banks) who gave her own perspective on the adult world
  • Denzil - an utterly incompetent shelving-obsessed Welsh DIY fanatic (played by John Sparkes) trapped in an increasingly loveless marriage with his equally grotesque wife Gwynedd (Banks)
  • Bert Bastard - Highly unsavoury yet strangely sympathetic Dirty Old Man, played by Sparkes and based largely on his experiences working as a carer for the elderly
  • The Nice Family - Ridiculously bland and beige lower-middle class family; ruled by Docherty's strangely-accented patriarch, to whom being Sensible and Tidy are the highest virtues, and consisting of Eldest Son (Sparkes), Daughter (Banks), the Twins (Hunter and Baikie), and Mother (played by Gordon Kennedy with his back to the camera at all times)
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  • Stoneybridge Town Council - A gaggle of squeaky-voiced Scots (played by the whole cast), running a small town whose only point of any interest is its eponymous stone bridge. A parody of the outsized self-importance of parochial politics, with most sketches revolving around the over-ambitious schemes of megalomaniacal council chairman Brucie (Kennedy) for the town to host the Olympics, declare itself a sovereign nation, etc.

Contained the following tropes:

  • Audio Adaptation: Revived on BBC Radio 4 in 2017 as The Absolutely Radio Show.
  • Author Filibuster: In-universe. MacGlashan is spectacularly unsuccessful as a writer, largely because everything he writes is an excuse to have a go at the English.
    MacGlashan: Oh yeah? What aboot 'Traveller in Time'?
    McMinn: Oh yes, 'Traveller in Time', markedly different - Scotsman invents a time machine, travels back to 1965 and shoots Geoff Hurst.
  • Berserk Button: The English for MacGlashan (especially English sports presenters for some reason).
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Quite often used, but a particularly strong example was used at the end of series three which featured a character in a sketch whose false beard comes loose. He then confesses that he is just a character in a sketch wearing a costume. This is followed by a montage of all the characters in that episode removing their costumes.
  • Catch Phrase: Surprisingly for a character-based sketch show, they were largely avoided. Exceptions included Morwenna Banks' 'Little Girl' who started every monologue with 'Yes I do know what is a.....[theme of the sketch]" and ended with 'Yes it's true!!!!"
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • The middle-class Peter and Jennifer Wells whenever they try anything involved with a charity (for example, joining Amnesty International and complaining about getting involved with the ANC).
    • Denzil, when Gwynedd tries to inform him she is pregnant:
    Gwynedd: Denzil, I have just seen Dr. Willseeyounow.
    Denzil: Have you? Where!? What are he doing in my house?
    Gwynedd: No, Denzil. I saw him at his surgery.
    Denzil: Gwynedd, why are you telling me this? There are nothing out of the ordinary about seeing Dr. Willseeyounow at his surgery.
    Gwynedd: No, Denzil. He saw me at his surgery.
    Denzil: Well he would do if that's where you were! Doctors are trained to notice people wandering about in their own surgeries, Gwynedd!
  • Depending on the Writer: The Don & George sketches were written either by Jack Docherty or Moray Hunter separately. The writers have commented on how you can tell which is which (Jack's sketches were all about weird situations, Moray's sketches were streams of jokes).
  • Driving a Desk: Parodied in the sketch where the Nice Family go out for a picnic. In the interior shot of the car, Father constantly wrenches the steering wheel back and forth in the usual manner while the back projection remains straight. Then in an exterior location shot of the car, it's weaving from side to side right across the road.
  • Informed Ability: Parodied here []
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Unfortunately they can't remember what goes with Good Cop.
  • The Hyena: The concept behind Pete Baikie's Laughing Man character - A rotund Pavarotti lookalike who bursts into hysterics at the sight of such things as You Don't Have To Be Mad To Work Here But It Helps signs and My Other Car Is A Porsche stickers.
  • Is This Thing Still On?: After one Calum Gilhooley sketch 'ends', Michael Grade (then chief executive of Channel 4) enters the set to show some gormless VIPs around. After Moray and Jack are forced to make awkward small talk until the VIPs leave:
    Moray: God, they just swan in here-
    [Jack indicates the boom microphone is still present]
    Moray: ... and I'm jolly glad they do!
  • Just a Stupid Accent: The accent and lyrical language of Braid Scots turns out to be Gordon Kennedy saying a few key phrases ('Oh, it cannot be') in a totally exaggerated Scottish accent.
  • Karma Houdini: In one sketch, an angry Docherty and Sparkes claim the secret to this is having a sensible haircut.
    Sparkes: Listen! You can do anything you want as long as you've got a parting!
    Docherty: You can murder your wife!
    Sparkes: You can eat babies!
    Docherty: Just as long as you've got a parting!
    [Photo of Adolf Hitler is shown]
    Docherty: Okay, he may have started World War Two. He may have been responsible for the Holocaust. BUT YOU COULD HAVE TAKEN HIM HOME TO MEET YOUR PARENTS!
  • Large Ham: Morwenna Banks edges into this territory when playing the Little Girl. John Sparkes edges into this territory all the time (even when playing the straight man).
  • Love Dodecahedron: One sketch featured this with a group of Bohemian characters attending the funeral of a companion. So involved are all their relationships that even they have forgotten who was supposed to be married to whom and who slept with whom.
  • Marty Stu:invoked Parodied with Peter Baikie's 'Mr Musak' character. He began as a parody of Richard Stilgoe, sitting at a piano and singing songs about how clever he is. By the fourth series, he is able to travel around on his piano and sort out just about any sort of problem, ranging from premature baldness to death.
  • Refuge in Audacity: John Sparkes's character Frank Hovis always gave his talks to camera while sitting on a toilet. His customary self-introduction was "This is Frank Hovis" but in one sketch, that's as far as he got before giving into an extraordinarily long cascade of invisible but all-too-audible diarrhoea, which was apparently so excruciating that he couldn't speak. When it was over, he just muttered "Bye-bye" and the sketch ended.
  • Reunion Show: The cast (minus Docherty due to schedule conflicts) got together in 2013 to perform a mixture of new and old sketches for the BBC radio show Sketchorama. The passage of time was lampshaded in the opening sketch, with Brucie announcing that the Stoneybridge Town Council annual meeting was "The first one for twenty years. Owing to... a reason."
  • The Talk: The Nice family children receive this from their father. The entire conversation is at cross purposes, with him advising them on jobs and pensions, while they ask about flagellation and reveal they've all had sex with Derek the Scoutmaster. At the end, Father, who does not appear to have been hearing his children at all, stands up and announces to the camera:
    "Well! I think that went very well!"
    ...and faints.
  • Toilet Humour: Literally with John Sparkes' 'Frank Hovis' who delivered a monologue from a toilet seat, largely about his problems with various lavatorial functions.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway??: 'Schedule D Man' - who has the power to get his tax returns in on time.

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