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Series / Harry Hill's TV Burp

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There's only one way to find out - FIIIGHT!
Harry, Once an Episode

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.
  • Accidental Innuendo: invoked Frequently pointed out.
  • Actor Allusion: invoked Harry enjoys doing this to recognisable actors in different media. Notable examples are constantly referring to Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard, and calling Nana Moon's boyfriend "the bloke off Lovejoy".
  • Adam Westing: If a celebrity is mentioned in a review, they may often appear in the studio to either defend themselves over Harry's criticism or further the joke.
  • 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.
  • Bait-and-Switch: At one time in the show's history it seemed like the writers of Eastenders were deliberately trying to invoke the "There's only one way to find out - FIGHT!" joke in their scripts, but one day Harry got fed up with this.
    Girl on Eastenders: If they had a fight, who would win, God or Santa?
    Harry Hill: [sarcastically] Hmm, if only there were a way to out. [aside glance] The harder you try, Eastenders, the less likely you are to get your fight featured, all right?
  • Better than Sex: Harry supplies, perhaps, the definitive quote on the subject:
    The Apprentice candidate Ben: For me, making money is better than sex.
    Harry Hill: You're not doing it right.
  • 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.
  • Captain Obvious: TV Expert of the Week highlights examples of these.
    Gillian McKeith: Your poo stinks.
  • Catchphrase: There's only one way to find out - FIGHT!
    • Also others, including "You get the idea with that" when a desk bit is going on a bit and he swipes it all away.
  • 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!"
  • 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: A couple of the fights.
    • God vs Devil.
    • Bear Grylls vs the ocean.
    • Mars Bar vs Meat.
    • And, in the show's most meta example, Harry Hill vs Harry Hill...
  • Decon-Recon Switch: Of one of his own Running Gags, no less:
    Freaky Eaters Narrator: For 26 years, the only thing Andrew Forster has ever eaten is biscuits.
    Harry Hill: [completely deadpan] Biscuits. Yeah, I'm doing it grown-up now. Yeah, it's actually quite a serious problem, yeah.
    [later, after watching Andrew's family giving him messages of support]
    Harry Hill: Hi, Andrew. It's me, Harry. [shouting] Just stop eating biscuits! Just stop eating 'em! Stop eating biccy-wic, biccy-wic, bic-wic-wiccy-wic, biccy-wiccy-wiccy-wiccy-wic-wic-wics, a Kitkat, Kitkat, Toffee Crisp, Toffee Crisp, toffee toffee toffee— (bangs head on camera) DOH!
  • Delayed Explosion: Harry is often pelted from off-stage by things thrown in his clips. If the gag continues, he'll often get hit a second time, but the third hit unexpectedly doesn't come—until after he's moved on to the next bit in relief.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The "Many Faces of Jimmy King's Face" segment.
  • 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!"
  • Driving a Desk: Done literally when Harry converts his desk into a car, drives out of the studio, then onto the highway... then a racetrack... then a ski slope... then he takes flight before finally returning to the studio.
    • Also done with Vera Duckworth's coffin, which is seen sliding seemingly unsupported out of the funeral parlor on Coronation Street... after which it keeps going out onto the street, where Harry is thumbing for a ride. Hilarity Ensues.
  • 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.
    • The first four series can be considered this due to aiming at an older audience than a family friendly audience.
    • The 2001 pilot has a different set.
  • Faceā€“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.
  • Follow the Bouncing Ball: Used for the occasional segment "I Certainly Didn't Expect to See That."
    I've seen so many things since I've been doing this show / From Wagbo to a piano-playing cat / Anything is possible or so they say, buuuuuut... [bizarre clip] ...I certainly didn't expect to see that!
  • Foreign Remake: An Australian version, hosted by Ed Kavalee broadcast in 2009.
  • Genre Throwback: The humour on the show. Ventriloquism and puppetry, slapstick worthy of Punch and Judy, and shout outs to classic programming from 20th-century television with TV characters from popular shows and former British TV stars from the 1960s, '70s and '80s. Adds with Parental Bonus.
  • Gilligan Cut: "This week's Apprentice in a nutshell", an occasional segment which follows a clip of an Apprentice contestant bragging about how they're going to win with one where the contestant is fired.
  • 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.
  • Gratuitous French: Happens with one of the fights.
  • Hidden Depths: Bear Grylls once appeared and showed that he had a pleasant singing voice.
  • 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: invoked Often occurs. A couple of times, 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!
  • Insistent Terminology: The Cube is consistently referred to as "The Rectangular Cuboid".
  • 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).
  • Like a Surgeon: Harry makes fun of the prop patient in a surgery scene on Holby City, saying it looks like a brown PVC sofa. Then he gets a phone call telling him a bottle of ketchup has been dropped down the back of his brown PVC sofa, and the sofa is rushed into theatre.
  • 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.
  • Manipulative Editing: Common when he performs highlights of the week's television at the beginning and after the break.
    • One time in Series 5, this occurs:
      Harry Hill: And also this week, Patrick Stewart shows personal disgust about Emmerdale.
      Patrick Stewart as Ian Hood: What started out on a single farm became a national disaster.
  • Mood Killer: Harry will often do this to some Narm, often by being Captain Obvious to a rhetorical question.
    Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall: (plaintively, looking out over an industrial barn packed with chickens) What animal would want to live here?
    Harry Hill: (shrugs) A fox?
  • Mutually Fictional: invoked
    • invokedAn 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...
    • invokedA couple of shows, most notably 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 4 show.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Harry once made fun of a few scenes from a 2009 BBC Two documentary called Darwin's Dangerous Idea, in which presenter Andrew Marr attempted impersonations of Queen Victoria and Benjamin Disraeli in pretty much his ordinary presenter voice. Harry then spoofed this by doing "Andrew Marr" performing a range of impersonations, all using the same "Andrew Marr" voice (though he did add wigs and other props for extra contrast).
    "Catherine Tate": (flat "Andrew Marr" voice) Am I bothered? Face? Bothered?
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Usually when a BBC Three programme is featured, such as Young Butcher of the Year.
  • The Other Darrin: invoked 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!
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: Some of the "of the week" titles are very specific. (For example, "most casual turning on of a car indicator of the week".)
  • 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?" which starts a long 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.
  • Rube Goldberg Device: A clip shows a pair of detectives, looking through a recently killed man's computer, and concluding "He must have sent this before he died." Cut to Harry Hill proving them wrong by drinking a deadly poison, falling on a lever, and setting off a chain of events which ends with the e-mail being sent.
  • 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!"
  • Serial Numbers Filed Off: In-universe, Harry Hill is often quick to point out programmes which are shallow imitations of existing shows. For example, his song about The Colour of Money includes the lyrics, "It's like Deal or No Deal, but instead of boxes it's cash machines, please don't tell Noel Edmonds or he'll sue."
  • 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
  • Staircase Tumble: Harry gleefully extended a scene from Eastenders in which the heavyset Heather laboriously climbed up several flights of stairs in a block of flats by having Harry accidentally bump her at the top and making her fall right back down them again, accompanied by the sound of crashing piano keys and Harry running down after her shouting "Ev! Ev! Ev!" (a reference to another scene he'd made fun of earlier in the same episode). Thanks to her momentum "Heather" then rolled out into the street... only to be run over by the guy from One Man and His Campervan, a BBC Two series Harry had also made fun of in the same episode.
  • 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.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: invoked A running gag on TV Burp following Hole In The Wall changing presenter from Dale Winton to Anton Du Beke.
  • This Is Unforgivable!
    Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall: There we have a Full English Breakfast Salad...
    Harry: That is a crime against God!
  • 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...
  • Values Dissonance: invoked The subject of a joke in the TV Burp Book, which mentions that the first-ever children's TV show was a puppet show called "Jive the Monkey", and apparently "all copies were believed to have been wiped".
  • Ventriloquism: A common gag is for him to interpret the voiceover on nature programmes as being the animals speaking. note 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.
  • 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.
  • You Meddling Kids: Referenced and parodied in a sketch making fun of Derek Acorah's Ghost Towns, in which the ghost turned out to be Harry with a sheet over his head.
    "Daniella Westbrook": It's Harry Hill!
    Harry: That's right, and I would've gotten away with it if it weren't for you meddling... (looks around to see the cast members are all old) ... idiots.



Video Example(s):


Lonely Kebab

Harry gets a visit from the kebab which featured on that week's episode of the dieting programme 'You Are What You Eat'. The kebab is upset about being criticised on the show, so Harry consoles him by joining him in a rendition of Akon's 'Lonely'.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / AnthropomorphicFood

Media sources: