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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", "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.

Troping? With my reputation?

  • 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 Chanel 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.
      • One of the Arthur Atkinson sketches, in which Atkinson performs "And Then What", is a parody of Samuel Beckett's play Krapp's Last Tape, specifically a performance by Max Wall, another music hall comedian.
    • 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 Chanel 9 TV, a Running Gag about the sort of low-budget tv encountered on Mediterranean holidays. Scorchio!
    Ethethethethetheth, ethehethethetheth, ethethetheth, Chris Waddle!
    Buono Estenté. Elácrimos y sputá é fálio ming di pucco-poco wikhjawikh pátandara Milio Pátagonia
  • Awful British Sex Comedy: Accurately spoofed in "Confessions of a Door-To-Door Cucumber Salesman", complete with vegetable-based innuendo.
  • Banana Republic: The country that produces Chanel 9 (only identified as 'Repubblica') was eventually shown to be one, complete with a dictator known only as El Presidenté.
  • Berserk Button: Johnny Nice Painter is a perfectly harmless man painting watercolours (and apparently narrating what he's doing 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.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Handsome lech, the 13th Duke of Wybourne is generally interested in young women but in one sketch he’s alone on a farm...
  • 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!
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: The entire premise of 'Cheezy Peaz' — "They're a combination of cheese and peas to form Cheezy Peaz!"
  • 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 elected on merit, this suggests that, for all his eccentricities and drunkenness, he was an incredibly good one.
  • Butt-Monkey: Chester Drawers (himself a ShoutOut to real-life collaborator to Askey, Charlie Chester) is that to Arthur Atkinson in the Show Within the Show.
  • Catchphrase/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', literally 'good existence'), "Boutros-Boutros Ghali" (Goodbye, among other things), "Ethethethetheth, ethethetheth" (shoo), "Svinky Pinky" (a casual greeting), "Chris Waddle" ('Don't know') and "Scorchio" (more than 40°C). 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? Small 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!" and "That's Inspector/Doctor/Generalissimo Monkfish to you!"
    • Arthur Atkinson: "Have you seen it? Have you seen it? Where's me washboard? How queer!"
    • Archie: "...hardest game in the world." and "Thirty years, man and boy."
    • Ted and Ralph: Sort of; while their 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". Ted also had “I wouldn’t know about that, Sir.”
      • Most of the catchphrases were played with in the final episode, e.g "... which is a shame."
    • I'm sorry, I've just cum
  • The Character Died with Him: The use of this trope by Taggart (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.
  • Creepy Gas-Station Attendant: Done to hilarious effect with Mark Williams' batty old petrol station attendant. The sketch will start with someone asking for help, usually seeking directions, to which the old man responds with the same rambling directions involving a "lovely old tree" and a "lovely old wall", before descending into an unhinged, spittle-flinging rant about imagined threats they might encounter on the road.
    Old Man: You wanna watch where you're steppin' around 'ere, boy. You might fall down a 'ole. Where would you be if you fell down a 'ole? WHAT ABOUT THE FOG!? Stuck in a hole in the fog? Stuck in a hole in the fog in the middle of the night! WITH AN OWL! Up a tree! Stuck in a 'ole in the middle of a night! Stuck down an 'ole, with an owl! On your own, behind the wall! Lovely old wall! Stuck down a hole with an owl in the middle of the night! It could happen! Stuck down a hole on your own in the middle of the night! WITH AN OWL!
  • 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.
  • Eastern European Animation: Spoofed by Chanel 9's strange and sadistic cartoon "Willy Ton Bastardo".
  • Everything Is an Instrument: Bob Fleming and friends perform The Wild Rover.
  • Extreme Doormat: Played with with Indecisive Dave. He tries to have opinions about the topic du jour whilst talking with his mates in the pub, but refuses to disagree with any of them for fear of offending. As a result he fails to come to a conclusion about anything and lives his life in a state of perpetual bewilderment
  • 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.
  • Faux Horrific: During one of the Chanel 9 weather news segments, the usual "Scorchio!" is replaced by the weather girl pointing out a single cloud on the weather map: cue shocked reactions from everyone and panicking and screaming.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Parodied in a series of sketches about an unkempt man in an astronaut suit who would barge into an otherwise normal scene, bellow "Where am I?! What year is this?! Who's the President?!" at the confused people he encounters, and then run out again screaming before they can answer.
  • 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.
  • Gag Dub: Monkfish gets a Chanel 9 adaptation ("Mmmmmoooooooooonnnnnnnnkfiiiiiiiiiissssssh!") and, in true Chanel 9 style, is As Long as It Sounds Foreign with a couple of Monkfish's catchphrases thrown in for good measure.
  • 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 played an exaggerated, bitter version of himself, complaining about how "I CREATED THEM!!" and The Fast Show now being 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.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Used in a sketch parodying Forrest Gump. This sketch is trailer for a fictional film about 'a cute disabled man', called Cute Disabled Man. It won an award for "best portrayal of a disabled man by a fit and healthy young actor who wants to win an Oscar".
  • 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 humorous 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.
  • Madness Mantra: One of the later Swiss Toni sketches, in which Toni is gradually experiencing a slow-burning nervous breakdown as his life falls apart and his confidence is shot, results in him sending Paul out to tend to a potential customer before desperately muttering "Got to get it back, Toni... got to get it back..." to himself.
  • Meaningful Name: Many characters had names that described their job (John Actor, Johnny Nice Painter, Ron Manager) or a trait about themselves (Bob Fleming, who was always coughing up phlegm).
  • Mood Dissonance: The "Rowley Birkin QC" monologues are generally unintelligible but very funny anecdotes. One, however, seems to be about a woman he was in love with during WW2, and who apparently died. The whole scene is melancholy, and the final line "I held her in my arms... (long pause)... I'm afraid I was very drunk." is unutterably sad.
  • 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 comically.
    • Ted and Ralph can be this in general as their sketches are played pretty straight and are very different in tone from the rest of the show.
  • Mushroom Samba: The Off roaders, 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.
  • Naked People Are Funny: The entire point of the Shagging Couple, played by Paul Higson and glamour model Donna Ewin. They even appeared in the live version of the show, shagging in one of the theatre boxes.
  • 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.
  • Network Sign Off: To close out an evening of Fast-Show-themed programming on The BBC, we see Ted and Ralph in a studio where Ralph awkwardly starts singing "God Save the Queen", including visibly counting out the ascending chords in the middle.
  • 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 "Whispering" Bob Harris, and his suit and interview style are based on that of Jools Holland.
    • "That's Amazing" strongly resembles the Australian show "The Curiosity Show", which ran from the 70s through to 1990 and was successfully exported to the UK (eventually being brought back as an online series). The primary difference is that something always goes wrong.
  • 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!"
  • No Fourth Wall: Several characters such as The Brilliant Kid, Rowley Birkin, and the 13th Duke of Wybourne just appear alone and speak directly to the camera. The Jazz Club guy doesn’t count, though, as he’s hosting a television show so his cameras exist in-universe.
  • Non-Specifically Foreign: Chanel 9
  • Overly Long Gag:
    • 'The Big Long Punch Up'
    • One of the Ted & Ralph sketches involved a long shot of Ralph walking all the way from the house to where Ted is relaxing under a tree... and then standing there in awkward silence for a few seconds, and walking back.
    • "Just a tiny amount", in which Whitehouse is apparently interviewing Higson, who's playing a parody of Nick Park, and who painstakingly demonstrates how he does claymation by moving the clay figure's fingers "just a tiny amount" over and over again for each individual finger. The interested expression gradually drains out of Whitehouse's face and he eventually turns to the camera crew and whispers "Anyone fancy a pint?"
  • 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.
  • Flawless Token: Subverted with the Insecure Woman, and an incomprehensible Jive Turkey.
  • Pun: "...which was Nice" became this when used to describe flying into a particular French airport.
  • Rapid-Fire Comedy: The Trope Codifier!
  • 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 'Cheezy Peaz' (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.)
  • Sanity Slippage: Johnny Nice Painter, whenever the word 'black' is mentioned.
  • Series Fauxnale: The three-part "Last Fast Show Ever" wasn't the last Fast Show, due to the series being revived in 2011 as a web series on Fosters Funny.
  • Ship Tease: In the Fast Show Live with Ted & Ralph.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Shane, one of the guests on That's Amazing!, has a genuinely interesting story, but he can’t stop swearing long enough to tell Carl about it.
    Carl: Tell the people what happened next.
    Shane: Well, shit, Carl, it was the weirdest thing—
    Carl: Whoa, mate. You can’t swear.
    Shane: Sorry, mate, I got a bit carried away.
    Carl: Don’t worry. Just roar off. Away you go.
    Shane: Well, as I was saying, I was cleaning my pool, when ripples started appearing on the water. Next thing I knew was this rumbling sound. It sounded like a train. Then, fuck me, there was a fucking great roar! The fucking ground started shaking like a fucking roller coaster! The fucking wife shouted out the fucking window, “What the fuck’s going on?”
    Carl: Shane, Shane, what are you doing, mate? You can’t swear. You keep swearing!
    Shane: Sorry, mate. It’s force of habit. It was a pretty frightening experience. I fucking shit meself.
  • 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.
  • Subverted Catchphrase: Mark Williams' "I'll get me coat" guy is constantly finding the wrong thing to say in any social situation, eventually coming up with some terrible faux pas, such as telling a room full of food snobs that he really likes frozen Mini Kievsnote . Whatever he says, there's always a paralysingly embarrassed silence, whereupon he says "I'll get me coat," and leaves. In one sketch he finds himself in the Regency period, sitting in a circle with a group of men and women who are conducting an impossibly arcane conversation about their complicated relationships with each other in a pastiche of the dialogue of Jane Austen. Williams' character sits and watches all this, and when everyone has spoken except him, they all turn to him. He opens his mouth, pauses and then resignedly says "I'll get me cloak," and leaves.
  • Take That!: Whilst most of the people who appeared on Jazz Club are affectionate parodies, Jeremy Kwee (the parody of Jamiroquai) sends vocalist Jay Kay up as pretentious, egotistical and hypocritical. In fairness, this is his reputation amongst a fair amount of the general public.
  • 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 describes 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.
  • The Unintelligible: Rowley Birkin Q.C.
    • The two jive turkeys talk to each other in ghetto slang which is completely incomprehensible, until Colin Mc Farlane's character declares that he has had enough and starts talking witha West Country accent.
  • Universal-Adaptor Cast: Parodied with John Actor as Monkfish. He's been variously a cop, a doctor, a veterinarian, a butler, undercover (as a one man band), The Generalissimo, an interior designer, a female cop, and a dead Scottish cop (in a posthumous role, no less). In each of these shows, Monkfish is played as a tough, uncompromising Cowboy Cop who tells various female characters to "put your knickers on and go and make me a cup of tea!"
  • 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 Cheezy Peaz advert. At the end of the episode, we see them again, and it is obvious the Cheezy Peaz have 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).
  • What Year Is This?: This is spoofed in The Last Fast Show Ever with a recurring character wearing a space suit running into random places and yelling "Where am I? What year is it? Who's the president?", but running away again before he can get a reply.

...I'll get me coat.


Video Example(s):


The Fast Show

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.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / NarrationEcho

Media sources: