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Series / The Slammer

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Clockwise from top left: Mr Burgess, Gimbert, Melvin, the Governor, Peter Nokio

The Slammer is a children's talent show set in a fictional prison called HM Slammer. The programme follows a variety show format where “prisoners” (who have been arrested for “showbiz”-related crimes) compete, by performing to an audience, who decide which act should be released.

The Slammer contains examples of:

  • Absurd Phobia: The Governor is replaced in one episode by Mr. Beltsem, who suffers from 'show-biz phobia': a crippling affliction for someone running a prison for show-biz offenders.
    • In another episode, anything with the Queen's face on it is enough to frighten Melvin.
  • Anvil on Head: Gimbert rigs up a 'burglar alarm' that consists of a 10 ton weight that drops on the burglar's head. Naturally it ends up falling on the Governor's head, giving him Easy Amnesia.
  • Black Belt in Origami: In one episode the Governor employs a robot warder called Wardrobe 2000 who is expert in "karate, jujitsu and the macarena".
  • Brown Note: Tony Blackburn attempts to escape by playing a record of his own creation that puts anyone who hears it to sleep.
  • Bullet Dancing: The Governor does this to Gimbert after he has lost the Governor's showtime suit and the Governor has to host the Freedom Show dressed as a cowboy (It Makes Sense in Context).
  • Costumes Change Your Size: When Melvin and Pete are abducted and replaced by aliens, the aliens' masks not only make them look exactly like Melvin and Pete, but disguise the fact that they are taller and have longer hands.
  • Demonic Dummy: A fairy brings one of Peter Nokio's puppets, Naughty Thomas, to life. Naughty Thomas proceeds to run run amok, wreaking havoc during the Freedom Show.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Temporary wardern Miss Pinch in one episode.
  • Easy Amnesia: Happens to the Governor in one episode.
  • Enemy Mime: In "Mimer's Strike", the Governor is held hostage by an escaped mime who possesses Your Mime Makes It Real powers.
  • Everyone Hates Mimes: The Governor hates mimes. Apparently he once hired a troupe of mimes to build him a house on the cheap, only when they finished he didn't actually have a house.
  • Expository Theme Song: You've been convicted of a howling showbiz crime...
  • Felony Misdemeanor: When Sammy Sparkle admits that he is not really an entertainer, but is actually just a wannabe, Gimbert is so horrified that he faints.
  • I Can't Believe I'm Saying This: After the Governor gets Easy Amnesia following a blow on the head, Gimbert suggests jogging his memory. Mr Burgess's response is "Good idea, lad. I can't believe I just said that".
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog: Melvin poses as Lionel Blair in order to get back into the Slammer. When asked to tap dance, he first claims that he can't because the carpet is too brown, and then claims that he injured his wrist peeling a tangerine.
  • The Jinx: Jimmy Jinx, "the unluckiest man in the world", appears in one episode. He manages to cause accidents wherever he goes, including causing Mr Burgess to walk into a lamppost. Inside the prison. Twice.
  • The Klutz: Gimbert
  • Latex Perfection: When Melvin and Pete are abducted and replaced by the aliens, the aliens wear latex masks that somehow perfectly conceal their lumpy and misshapen heads (and also disguise their longer hands somehow).
  • Lethal Chef: Both the Slammer's actual chef, and the Governor when he takes over the role.
  • Modern Major General: The Governor may be an excellent entertainer, but he is really rather inept at running a prison. Lampshaded in one episode where a journalist points out that there have been several escapes in the time she has been talking to him.
  • Nonverbal Miscommunication: When the Governor loses his memory, Gimbert attempts to mime the name of the next act to him from offstage. The first attempt to convey the name of acrobat Alina Eskina is interpreted by the Governor as "a lean, mean laughing monkey".
  • Not Used to Freedom: After being released, Melvin sneaks back into prison because he misses his friends.
  • Oh Wait, This Is My Grocery List: When the Governor loses his memory, he introduces the one act as "a pint of milk, a bag of bin liners and three scratch cards". His nephew then tells him to turn the card over.
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: Audience members are sometimes asked to sum up an act in one word, which often leads to them using one of these.
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth: When a mime takes the Governor and Mr Burgess hostage, he mimes pulling pins from grenades with his teeth and then throwing them. They then explode.
  • The Place: Is set in HM Slammer.
  • Potty Emergency: Happens to Gimbert when he gets glued to the Governor, Burgess and Peter.
  • Prison: The show is set in H.M.P. Slammer.
  • Prisoner Performance: Contestants are presented as "prisoners" in the HM Slammer who have been arrested for showbiz-related crimes and are vying to compete in order to leave the prison.
  • Punny Name: The ventriloquist Peter Nokio (or P. Nokio).
  • Rule #1: According to Mr Burgess there are two rules to Dance Club. Rule number 1: You must dance! And rule number two: No fizzy drinks near the stage!
  • Shipped in Shackles: Jake LaPlant, "the man with the most dangerous jokes in show business", arrives at H.M.P. Slammer in a straight jacket and face mask and strapped to a trolley like Hannibal Lector.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Dick & Dom in da Bungalow, as most of the recurring cast of that show besides the titular duo (Ian Kirkby, Dave Chapman, Lee Barnett, and Melvin Odoom) also feature here in the sitcom portions, portraying Expies of their bungalow counterparts. (Ie, Burgess for Harry Batt, Gimbert for the Prize Idiot, Melvin in both shows appears as a fictionalized version of himself, etc)
    • The entire concept is directly taken from a segment on Dick and Dom called 'The Strangely Talented': a game in which contestants performed their specialised acts in front of the "Bungalow Heads" to try to win the title of "Strangely Talented Champion".
  • Sticky Situation: In one episode, the Governor, Mr Burgess, Gimbert and Peter have to host the Freedom Show stuck together after Gimbert uses the 'Dangerously Sticky Glue' to repair the showtime lever.
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: One episode opens with Mr Burgess composing a text in which says this week's show contained "wit, grit and sh... surely the best act we've ever had in the history of the show".
  • Tailor-Made Prison: Erica the Critic is kept within a special cell in solitary confinement that is chained shut from the outside.
  • Talent Show
  • Thing-O-Meter: A clap-o-meter is used to register the audience applause and decide who is the winner of the Freedom Show.
  • Toothbrush Floor Scrubbing: After Melvin sneaks back into the Slammer, one of his punishments is to clean the toilets with a toothbrush.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: In one episode the Governor is arrested and replaced by a new governor, Mr Beltsem. Beltsem is a tyrant who mistreats both the prisoners and the guards, and suffers from 'show biz phobia'.
  • Variety Show
  • Wimp Fight: Happens when the Governor and the governor of the Russian version of the Slammer catch each other attempting to sabotage the props. It degenerates into them attempting to slap each other at arm's length.
  • Win Your Freedom: The prisoners have to win their freedom by being the most popular act in the Freedom Show.
  • Working on the Chain Gang: The tap dancers in the opening credit.
  • Your Mime Makes It Real: In one episode, an escaped mime uses this to wreak havoc in the prison. He locks the Governor, Mr Burgess and Gimbert inside a mimed box, causes an explosion by miming pulling the pin from a grenade, etc.