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Series / Burnistoun

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Burnistoun is a Scottish Sketch Comedy show that ran on BBC Scotland from 2010 to 2012. Starring Iain Connell, Robert Florence, and Kirsty Strain, the show centers around the wacky antics of various residents of the fictional village of Burnistoun.

There are a number of recurring characters, although it's mostly a series of vignettes. These characters include:

  • Jolly Boy John, a hyperactive Manchild who films himself doing bizarre things in his bedroom and has a tendency to call things "For Real".
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  • Kelly McGlade, leader of the band Kelly and the Sloppy Seconds, a rock star with an attitude who's determined to make it big.
  • Paul and Walter: two brothers who run an ice cream/snack truck. Walter is extremely childish, with a tendency towards tantrums and fits of whimsy, while Paul has to put up with him.
  • Scott and Peter, a pair of lower-class friends who hang out and have Seinfeldian Conversations and other Slice of Life antics.

The show is available to viewers outside of Scotland on Netflix.


This series provides examples of:

  • Asshole Victim: Kelly McGlade when the Burnistoun Butcher becomes her new manager and presumably kills her. She's enough of a jerk that it's hard to feel too worried about her death.
  • Arch-Enemy: Big Sanny Tolan's Boy is Doberman Man's greatest enemy, and Doberman Man invests the majority of his time trying to chase him down. While Burnistoun has plenty of actual criminals, Big Sanny Tolan's Boy was Doberman Man's school bully, and Doberman Man's quest to stop him is based more on his personal vengeance than any actual threat he poses to the city.
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: While Paul and Walter are almost always at each other's throats, in the last episode of Series 2 they take a break from fighting and bond over a childhood game and their dead mother's memory. And then they are killed when their van rolls into the sea.
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  • Batman Parody: Doberman Man, a dog-themed superhero with a growl, cape, and costume that resembles Batman. Unlike Batman, Doberman Man seems more concerned with getting back at his school bullies than fighting crime.
  • Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop: Played for laughs in the "Quality Polis" series of sketches. These feature a pair of officers, Toshan and MacGregor, who abuse their power for their own amusement (for example, using a noise complaint to invite themselves to a man's party and threatening to arrest him if he doesn't let them in). They're also extremely dim and oblivious to actual crime that happens right in front of them. They seem to enjoy examining and criticising civilians' CD collections.
  • The Bad Guys Are Cops: Parodied in a sketch about a police chief who's dealing with a serial killer. It turns out that the serial killer was one of his officers, just like the last one, and the previous one. It ends with the police chief becoming such a killer himself, by shooting his officers.
  • Brick Joke: Often a feature of the longer, more complex Paul and Walter sketches. For example, in one, a line about Walter's apparently debilitating fear of Jools Holland seems come out of nowhere until it plays a large role in the punchline.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "For Real," by Jolly Boy John.
    • "Excuse me?" for Kelly McGlade.
  • Da Editor: The editor of The Burnistoun Herald is burly, bald and mustachioed. He's gruff and demanding with his subordinates, but he's also very dim, so his suggestions often don't make much sense.
  • Daydream Surprise: In the first sketch of the first series, a man named Gordon Belford is harassed by a pair of thugs who threaten to pull a knife on him. He responds by chucking a bottle of ginger ale at them and perfectly hits one in the head. This leads to him being featured on a TV programme and making it into the Guinness Book of World Records. At the end of the sequence, this is revealed to be in his imagination, and when he actually tries to chuck the bottle of ginger he dumps it all over himself instead.
  • Dreadful Musician: Kelly and her band appear to be this, though it is impossible to say one way or another since we never actually hear them play a song.
  • Economy Cast: Most sketches in Series 1 feature only Connell and Florence, and occasionally Kirsty Strain and Richard Rankin, despite having other billed actors.
  • Edgy Backwards Chair-Sitting: An entire sketch based around this trope. A policeman is able to instantly convince multiple suspects to confess merely by sitting backwards in his chair. Later, there's a long gag where a husband struggles to sit backwards in a cushy armchair, and when he finally succeeds he instantly repairs his marriage with this display of trustworthiness. The lesson seems to be that sitting this way is a panacea for communication.
  • Euphemism Buster: One sketch features a political debate that's nothing but the two candidates using elaborate euphemisms to hint that their opponent's wife is sexually promiscuous, then clarifying explicitly what they mean about the wife's sexual proclivities.
    Calvin Brogue, MSMPS for Burnistoun North: Well now, well now, we all had a good laugh at the charity ball last night, when Mr. Coughlin's wife Marge complained about having pins and needles in her feet. What does she expect? Every hour Mr. Coughlin is in London, she spends with her legs in the air, yes...having sex with men!
    Morris Coughlin, MSMPS for Burnistoun South: Well now, well now, I wonder if Mr. Brogue has considered the possibility that the reason none of his constituents are using the cycle lanes he had installed, at great cost, is because they're all too busy riding the local bike—his wife, Mrs. Brogue! Yes, yes, "bike" in the sexual sense!
  • Everything Is an Instrument: A recurring gag is a tension-filled situation (i.e. someone encountering hoodlums destroying his car) turning into a musical mashup of rhythmic sounds, which turns out to be being actively mixed by DJ Jesus in heaven.
  • Excalibur: A series of sketches has an ordinary bloke find Excalibur (depicted as a large sword with glowing runes on it), wedged in a crack in the ground rather than in the traditional stone. He pulls it out easily, and a man who resembles King Arthur appears, telling him that he is The Chosen One and needed to fight evil. Unfortunately, as Arthur puts it, the chosen one is "a fanny" and prefers pubbing to fighting evil. Eventually he sells the sword to a kebab restaurant, who uses it to cut off gyro meat.
  • Fat and Skinny: In the Scott and Peter sketches, Peter, who plays the Straight Man to Scott's wackier personality, is skinny while Scott is fat. They comment on this contrast in one sketch, where Scott posits that he's the dominant one in the relationship and predicts that Peter will soon become fat as a result.
    • Humorously inverted in the "quality polis" sketches where MacGregor, despite being visibly skinnier than Toshan, is referred to as "the fatter of the two officers."
  • Football Hooligans:
    • A recurring gag in Series 3 deconstructs this. In the sketches, a rowdy-looking fan of the Burnistoun United football team attempts to come up with rude songs to sing at the opposing team, but tends to make them overly nice and polite instead. His friends always make fun of him for this until he changes them to be more offensive.
    • In one sketch, police are stationed at the football game to prevent a riot. However, they end up provoking one after one of the officers pepper-sprays the goalie of the team he doesn't support.
  • Grandpa God: A fair number of sketches feature God in the form of a glowing, robed, white-bearded old man. He's generally a pretty cool fellow who enjoys some good patter, although he disapproves of DJ Jesus's mixes of life on earth.
  • How's Your British Accent?: Subverted and parodied in a sketch about a Scottish actor who made it big in Hollywood. In the sketch, the actor uses his Scottishness to woo a woman, but he speaks with basically an insanely watered-down, Americanized accent. A passerby approaches and proceeds to criticise his accent and use of American slang like "buddy" instead of what you'd use "wi' yer da or uncle." At the end of the sketch, the interloper with the authentic Glasgwegian accent gets the girl.
  • Fluffy Cloud Heaven: DJ Jesus lives in a land in the sky surrounded by clouds, where his white-bearded father, God also lives.
  • Girlfriend in Canada: Doberman Man claims to have a girlfriend who's up at his Gran's, but it's pretty obviously a lie. (He also claims to have "done sex about ten times.")
  • Girl Group: Kelly and the Sloppy Seconds, an all-female band who sing somewhat sexually-charged songs and wear risque rocker outfits.
  • Glory Days:
    • Biscuity Boyle. As a young man he was a champion athlete and Burnistoun's most famous citizen, but now he's a sad, incompetent old man who's prone to physical comedy and can barely control his body.
    • Invoked literally in a sketch where a man attempts to sell a "denim jaisket" (denim jacket) to a customer at a garage sale for 500 pounds, despite the fact that it is a child's jacket. And the customer buys it, in an attempt to recapture his own glory days.
  • Kissing Warm-Up: In one sketch, Big Sanny Tolan's Boy taunts Doberman Man by saying he's never kissed anyone. When Doberman Man insists otherwise, Big Sanny Tolan's Boy demands he prove it by making out with his hand.
  • Latin Lover: The owners of Burnistoun United are worried that all their fans are ugly. The solution? Recruit a bunch of Spanish football fans so the team can have some hotties in the mix. When the new fans are introduced to the press, one of the fans passionately makes out with the reporter instead of answering a question.
  • Nobody Poops: Discussed and defied. In a sketch, a Soap Opera director discusses criticism for not including characters using the toilet. Cut to a series of clips from the soap opera with characters pooping at dramatic moments, including a climax where several guys fight each other for use of a toilet while crying hysterically.
  • Obviously Evil: The Burnistoun Butcher is an extremely creepy-looking guy with packing tape all over his face who wears a blood-soaked t-shirt and a trenchcoat. Everything about his appearance screams serial killer, but despite his publicly admitting to being one nobody pays him any attention.
    Rubbish collector: You cannae put that body in your green bin, mate. Stuff like that's gotta go in your brown bin. You know, with the grass and the plants and that? If you're wanting that emptied, you'll need to get that body out of there!
    Burnistoun Butcher: Sick! Too many bloody bins!
    Rubbish collector: Just daein' my job, mate. Just daein' my job!
  • Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up: Big Sanny Tolan's Boy is Doberman Man's greatest enemy, because he bullied Doberman Man when they were in school, mocking him for being a virgin and forcing him to hump a pole. Big Sanny Tolan's Boy acts the same way as an adult, and is still able to get a rise out of Doberman Man. In one sketch, he's able to force him to hump a pole despite being locked in a jail cell.
  • Separated by a Common Language: One sketch features two guys traveling in a new, voice-activated elevator— which has an American accent. The automated system is unable to understand their Scottish accents, and they try impressions of various accents, to no avail.
  • Serial Killer: The Burnistoun Butcher, a serial murderer, although he has a bit of a reputation problem as people frequently confuse him with Burnistoun's actual butcher.
  • Straight Man and Wise Guy: Paul and Walter have this dynamic. Walter is extremely childish and constantly causing trouble for Paul by doing things such as splashing water on him, calling him gay, and in general indulging in odd and whimsical fantasies. Meanwhile, Paul is just trying to run the ice cream stand and is constantly exasperated by Walter, trying to keep him under control.
  • Tuxedo and Martini: A series of sketches feature a James Bond parody. He's English and Tuxedo-clad, and is assigned various dangerous missions and has women with Punny Names fawning all over him. His main shtick is making lame double entendres, then pointing his gun at the camera and winking.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Kelly McGlade, the main character and narrator of a series of sketches focused on her. She's arrogant, self-absorbed, and cruel to her fellow band-mates who depend on her, and ends up physically fighting someone almost every time she appears. However, someone else usually gets the better of her by the end of each sketch, though she never admits it.
  • Verbal Tic: Walter ends almost every sentence with "anyway", even when it doesn't really make sense.
  • Violent Glaswegian:
    • Discussed in the voice-activated elevator sketch. The American-voiced machine urges the two very frustrated men to stay calm, to which one of them responds that obviously they had to add this, since they knew they were selling it to Scotsmen who were bound to lose it. The fictional town of Burnistoun appears to be located in the greater Glasgow area.
    • Series 3 has a series of sketches about a Scottish history programme. The show features a stereotypical wild highlander with a long red beard talking about famous historical battles, but he gets carried away and ends up violently re-enacting them by himself, assaulting unfortunate English tourists who happen to be around in the process.
  • Virgin-Shaming: Doberman Man was heavily bullied and forced to hump a pole as a teen due to being a virgin. As an adult superhero, he's still very sensitive about it.
  • Wacky Americans Have Wacky Names: Exaggerated in a sketch about where two American GIs with ridiculous names come to Burnistoun. Their names are Brocca Bronk and Honk Hucklehanka.
  • Wacky Marriage Proposal: An especially black comedy-filled example. An airport security agent proposes to a fellow security agent at a different airport. How does he do it? He hides an engagement ring inside the anus of a traveler he did a cavity search on, and then tells the fiance to do a cavity search on the same passenger.

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