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Series / Harry and Paul

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Harry and Paul was a British Sketch Show which aired between 2007 and 2012, lasting 4 seasons (the first one was titled Ruddy Hell! It's Harry and Paul). The concept is to bring back together Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse, who had previously worked together on Harry Enfield and Chums — Whitehouse is now at least as well known for The Fast Show. Other Fast Show actors, such as Simon Day, started appearing in series 2.

A running theme seems to be that of class warfare and cultural divisions in British society. This was true to some extent in Harry Enfield and Chums, but is more obvious here. A second major theme, growing more prominent over time, is that of examining past attitudes with Retraux and Deliberate Values Dissonance.

The show has had a mixed reception: Some people love it, others hate it.

Enfield and Whitehouse, along with some of their co-stars, reunited in 2014 for The Story of the Twos, a Mockumentary retrospective for the fiftieth anniversary of BBC Two. Hosted by a parody of Simon Schama, the episode spoofs many of the shows broadcast on the channel including Newsnight, I, Claudius, Boys from the Blackstuff, Blackadder and The Fast Show.

Harry and Paul provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Acting for Two:invoked In the Dragons' Den sketches, Enfield and Whitehouse, between them, play the entrepreneurs, all the Dragons, and Evan Davis.
  • Alter-Ego Acting: Series 4 episodes begin with a sketch where Harry and Paul supposedly play themselves meeting to write the script, but always with some twist on it, usually the sketch being done In the Style of another writer they're parodying.
  • Alternate History: The Beatles sketches from Series 3 are about what might have happened if The Beatles had never got into drugs - they're all alive and still together in 2010 and are still acting as they did in their A Hard Day's Night days.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Danny the cultured fisherman. He doesn't appear to have any interest in women, and, when asking Kenny to come to a posh restaurant with him, it sounds like he is asking him out.
    • The Posh Scaffolders. They both act camp and very rarely discuss women (outside of heckling them, which they only do, according to a tearful Darren, because they were 'trying to be friendly'). They are also constantly touching each other. Kev frequently calls Darren 'dear'.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The multilingual football manager, who talks to each of the players from his international side in his own language - most of which is authentic-sounding but gibberish.
  • Better on DVD: In-Universe: One set of sketches in Series 4 is about a couple who are culturally elitist about owning foreign DVD boxsets.
  • Blackface: In one Dragons' Den parody the regular entrepreneurs Ken and Bryan disguise themselves as Levi Roots, in the hope of a more favourable reception.
  • Bragging Theme Tune: The opening credits portray Enfield and Whitehouse as Communist-style dictators, accompanied by a patriotic anthem praising them in the same style.
  • Captain Oblivious: The Minor Royals (series 4)
  • Catchphrase:
    • "Really Sheridan, one must always make time for one's NHS work" and "You may feel a slight discombobulation" — Charles, the Consultant Surgeons sketches
    • "I saw you coming" — the owner of the eponymous shop
    • "`Ands, Ashley!" — the Clean Chavs (series 1)
    • "...or some sort of shit like that" — the Cultured Fisherman
    • "But I am...a Chocolatier!" — the Chocolatier
    • "What in the name of looooooooove is...?" "You too"/"Are a great band" and "What have you been making history this week, Bono?" — Bono and The Edge
    • "Is he a quare?" "If he looks like a quare and sounds like a quare..." — the Old Tories (series 3-4)
    • "I'm a very important man" — the Very Important Man (series 2)
    • "We're from Badiddlyboing, Odawidaho" and "Isn't she pretty?"/"Whatta guy!" — Ronald and Pam the eccentric small town American tourists.
    • "Everything's Better In Scotland" from the Scotsman in the eponymous sketch, and "We're no' all like that! I take a sideways look at life, you know?" from the Billy Connolly expy played by Paul.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Referenced in one episode where the Old Tories debate whether Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse are 'quares'; unsurprisingly, the Old Tory played by Harry thinks Enfield isn't and Whitehouse is, while the one played by Paul thinks the opposite.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • In one Dragons' Den sketch, the hopeless entrepreneurs Ken and Bryan actually come up with the brilliant breakthrough of a perfect biodegradable plastic bag... yet pitch it to the Dragons only as a way of temporarily storing non-biodegradable plastic bags.
    • The point of the "Clive the Geordie" sketch was to comically exaggerate the north/south divide by having a southern couple treat a Geordie as a pet, and to highlight that racism is often accepted in a Double Standard in a north/south context. Then there was one sketch about another southern couple visit and bring their Filipino maid in the hope that she will mate with Clive, which created a diplomatic storm with the Filipino embassy — thus demonstrating the truth of the point the sketches were making, that people were fine with the idea when it was a Geordie being treated in such a way, but kicked up a fuss when it was someone of a different race.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: In many of the Retraux past sketches, especially "When Times Were Simpler".
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In the Bono and The Edge sketch where The Edge accidentally says he likes Coldplay, the way Bono reacts is almost like The Edge were cheating on him. When he says they 'should split up', he is talking about the band, but his tone of voice and The Edge's horrified reaction makes it sound much more like they are talking about a relationship.
  • Dumb Blonde: The Sloane Rangers, who frequent the shop "I Saw You Coming".
  • Eagleland: At first glance Pam and Ronald seem to be flavour 2 of the Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist variety, but turn out to be quite nice people, just eccentric and overly friendly.
  • Everything Is Racist: The Scotsman in "Everything's Better in Scotland" thinks everything English people say is "patronisin' and racist". Everything.
  • Expy: "I'm Tim Nice-But-Balding."
  • Fake Band:
    • Not exactly — as in The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer, it's a real band presented in a crazy manner, specifically U2. This consists of The Edge hiding a surprise under his woolly hat every week, while Bono appears in a cloud of smoke and a white messianic glow and mentions what he's been "making history" this week. Catchphrases: "What in the name of loooooooooooooooove is..." and "You too" "Are a great band!"
    • Also see their Beatles sketch above.
  • Funny Foreigner: "Theo Profiterole" in the Dragons' Den parodies.
  • Gaydar: Played with. The Old Tories spend all of their spare time trying out their hopelessly inaccurate Gaydar.
  • Good Old Ways: Parodied in "When Times Were Simpler" (and several other sketches).
  • Gossipy Hens: The Fifties Typists.
  • Granola Girl: The entire clientele of "I Saw You Coming".
  • Gratuitous French: One customer at "I Saw You Coming" thinks the chocolate tart is rather expensive. But she's quite willing to pay the same price for "chocolat tarte".
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Gay?:
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today? / Actor Allusion: The Old Tory played by Harry Enfield refuses to believe that Harry Enfield is a quare. Even if he looks like a quare and sounds like a quare and is on television like a quare.
  • Homage: The "Clarkson Island" sketch is one to Whicker Island; the opening shows the two islands next to each other on a map, accompanied by a snatch of the Liberty Bell march.
  • Identical Grandson: The Consultant Surgeons' identical Georgian barber-surgeon ancestors appear in one sketch.
  • Impossible Task Instantly Accomplished: The "Yeah, we can do that" builders, who build a London Underground extension in an afternoon.
  • In the Style of: Doctor Who and Sherlock in the style of On the Buses.
  • Jizzed in My Pants: A series two sketch shows a tennis umpire getting aroused as he listens to the female tennis players moaning and grunting as they play. Over the course of the sketch, he tries to cover his groin and gets more and more uncomfortable. After the point is won, he wipes his forehead and excuses himself.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: The Ricky Gervais sketch in series 4 has them both make outrageously offensive comments before insincerely backing down by this method. "I hate the Jews! get in cartons, I prefer it freshly squeezed."
  • The Modest Orgasm: In the Retraux take on "When Harry Met Sally", the woman fakes an orgasm by crossing her eyes and clearing her throat slightly. Everyone else in the restaurant is still shaken to their core.
  • Narration Echo: Inverted in one Dragons' Den sketch, as a reference to Evan Davis's Captain Obvious tendencies on the real show:
    Ken: I've left it in the car.
    Narrator: Ken has left the solution to all the world's problems in the car.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Parking Pataweyo has been known to manifest superpowers, if that's what it takes to ticket a car.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Jasper Hazelnut (series 1) is a thinly disguised parody of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
    • In "Everything's Better In Scotland", Paul plays an expy of Billy Connolly.
    • In "The Cops", an expy of House appears at one point.
  • Officer O'Hara: Officers O'Malley-Mulligan-Hoolagey and O'Pat-Eddery-Flannery-Hoonigan.
    "I come from a small place in Ireland where everyone's a cop. Even the cops are cops."
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: The Consultant Surgeons.
  • Parody Names:
  • Patriotic Fervour: "Everything's Better In Scotland", in which a Scotsman at an English pub rudely insists that, well, everything's better in Scotland. This is followed by Paul playing a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Billy Connolly who insists "We're no' all like that!"
  • Politician Guest-Star: Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party, makes a random cameo in a series 4 sketch parodying Ricky Gervais' tendency to have a celebrity make an appearance for no reason in his series.
  • Retraux: The black-and-white 1930s "original versions" of hit movies, such as The Bourne Identity and (controversially) Brokeback Mountain. Many more Retraux sketches have been added over time, such as "When Times Were Simpler", which are similar in tone to the Mr Cholmondeley-Warner sketches from Harry Enfield and Chums.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: The father-and-son builders who build huge prisons, Tube stations far out in the country, etc., in seconds with the help of a Stock Footage Hard-Work Montage.
  • Self Deprecating Humour: In The Story of the Twos, a Mockumentary retrospective of BBC Two, after sticking the boot into practically everything else the channel did, the showrunners saved some snark for themselves; The Fast Show (which Paul Whitehouse co-wrote) is depicted as over-reliant on catchphrases and speedy to the point of nonsensicality at times. And in a later mock-interview about the show Harry Enfield (playing himself being interviewed by a DJ played by Whitehouse) offers some quite unconvincing denials about how he didn't want to be part of the show anyway and how he's not at all jealous that The Fast Show won four BAFTAs while his own show won none.
  • Spot the Imposter: Eenie Meanie Minie Mole is a sketch in which the head of MI-6 struggles with the fact that he now has two George Smileys working for the department, the Alec Guinness version played by Harry and the Gary Oldman version played by Paul. All this is really just an excuse for both men to compete over who can do the best George Smiley impression, which involves cleaning your glasses, staring out the window, and giving a Meaningful Look that hints at your Hidden Depths and Knight in Sour Armor nature.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: In a Retraux version of The Apprentice, LordSirAlanSugarDaddy fires his daughter, instructing her to 'go home and do some knitting'.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: In the series 4 sketch parodying Ricky Gervais' style, Paul jokes with Harry about running into fans who ask when Harry's bringing back his old Eighties character Loadsamoney. A few minutes later, Nigel Farage walks in and tells Enfield he's done nothing good since Loadsamoney.
  • Strawman Political: The audience and panel of Question Time.
  • Take That!: Several jabs at Ricky Gervais.
  • Traffic Wardens: Parking Pataweyo.
  • The Unintelligible: A series 4 sketch with an Irish racing magnate and his posh English friend (Paul and Harry respectively), who have similar levels of unintelligibility as Paul's earlier character Rowley Birkin from The Fast Show.
  • Verbal Tic:
    • The Consultant Surgeons often get stuck on repeating the phrase "forty, forty-five years" while reminiscing.
    • The father-and-son builders do the same with "four-by-two-by-four-by-two-by..."
    • And the Fifties Typists with "Anyway, anyway, anyway, anyway, anyway, anyway, anyway..."
  • Workout Fanservice: In-universe. The one time we see Pik engaged in his work as a gym instructor, he's taking an attractive woman through a stretching routine, and enjoying it rather more than he should.