Little and Large – The Final Series

[more Little and Large: Who Do You Do?Double DareSeries 1Stout and Reed]

To quote myself in my previous piece on the pair: “Against all good judgement, I’m really curious to what that final series looked like, being that the format wore itself out before episode one was over.”

The leap between seventies comedy and that of the nineties was enormous, and after alternative comedy had swept through the landscape like a flash fire, club comics and traditional ‘straight man/silly one’ double acts become the punchline; hoary old forbears whose only worth was in being lampooned. By 1991, the old guard had started disappearing from our screens, with the ascent of names like Chris Morris, Steve Coogan, Lee and Herring, and Harry Hill, all lurking round the corner. Newman and Baddiel were just two years from filling Wembley Stadium, and despite Freddie Starr’s best efforts in years past, titting around in a teddy boy outfit, comedy really was about to become the new rock ‘n’ roll, at least for a while.

And yet, Syd and Eddie persisted. Now twice the age of the incoming class, Syd, already starting to grey in ’78, was the full silver fox, while Eddie lived up to his name more than ever. Many hours of television have passed between that first BBC stretch and their last hurrah with series eleven. Eleven! Nobody can deny this is a phenomenal run, traversing three decades, but what shape would that final set of half hours take? Worryingly, having jumped into this closing year, I find myself growing curious about the transition period, and those nine intervening series. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. For those whose parents put a porn block on the Wi-Fi, there’s still plenty of Syd in drag, however some of the female roles are taken by singer and impressionist Maddi Cryer. Something to keep in mind throughout is that Syd’s 48 here, and Eddie 49.

We start with episode one, which aired on Saturday 16th March, 1991 at 7pm, following Jim’ll Fix It and ‘Allo ‘Allo. It would be watched by an audience of 8.7 million. There’s no opening titles this year, so’s best to cram in even more of its new standard; the extremely lengthy musical number. And we’re straight into a rockin’ rap beat, punctuated by power chords and the shrill peep of whistles, conjuring images of illegal, sweat-soaked raves. Adding to our rapidly growing collection of troupes named after their choreographers, the Jeff Thacker Dancers do an energetic running man on a revolving stage, their baggy clothes and skew-whiff baseball caps helping pull us out of the grotty, smoke-filled seventies and into the modern era. This is unmistakeably the nineties — the Gulf War, EMF, Gazza, The Mary Whitehouse Experience; Syd Little and Eddie Large. Syd’s voice bids us welcome, introducing “the UK’s answer to The New Kids on the Block!

The lads burst through a backdrop, dressed like NKOTB, and accompanied by the gangly and now-elderly Eli Woods, Kenny Baker, and a bloke who legitimately appears to be seven-feet tall. Baker does the splits, and about a minute in, it hits me there’s been no funny lyrics, and we’re literally watching a straight cover of The Right Stuff, dancing and all, by a near-50-year-old Little and Large. Eventually, it segues into parody, albeit under the impression NKOTB were rappers — “we’re the New Kids on the Block, we like to sing and we like to rock!” — and with gags like the tall fella having a high voice and Kenny Baker having a deep one. Kenny’s called Lofty, Eddie’s Slim, and Syd’s called Fatty. Syd: “I’m funky and I’m hip…” Eddie “I’ve seen more fat on a chip!” There’s a textbook example of that 90’s joke, rapping that you’re doing a rap “but the others think I’m a load of cr…” and getting your mouth covered, before an excruciating four-and-a-half minutes ends with Eli Woods soiling himself.

The musical numbers are bridged by a huge amount of sketches, most lasting under twenty seconds, in a hop and a skip to a visual punchline. Syd and Eddie as policemen at the Blackpool illuminations, where it’s revealed they too are covered in lightbulbs. Syd (or rather, a stunt-double) running into automatic doors. Eddie winning a trolley dash and filling it with cash registers. Eddie ringing Syd the vicar’s front door, which plays a cacophony of church bells. Eddie asking shop assistant Syd if he can try out some boxing gloves before decking him. Traffic warden Syd unable to write down an Arabic numberplate to issue a ticket, as Sheik Eddie gives him a cheeky bow before driving off. Syd on the pier, taking a picture of his girlfriend with a “disposable camera,” and Eddie the road sweeper slinging it into the sea. Eddie the lifeguard, thinking drowning men are giving him a friendly wave.

So fast and sparsely verbal, these quickies feel like three-panel strips in the Beano or Whizzer and Chips, and hold up far better than the longer sketches, all of which shine a blinding great spotlight on how dire the scripts are, with material so thin, it’s slipping between atoms. ‘Toytown in Trouble’ is a garish nightmare, with Syd as Noddy and a nee-nawing Eddie as PC Plod, which finally gives us our first Eddie Large impression, of Kojak. Then Eddie pulls the string on a giggling, bimbo-esque rag doll, who asks “do you have a stwing I can puww?” and Eddie makes a face like “yeah, me prick” — an expression we’ll see again when asked if he’s got a big truncheon.

That one routine they had in the first series; Eddie interrupting Syd with impressions; doesn’t really happen at all here, with copious amounts of TV time in the intervening years forcing them to branch further than just “Sid wants to sing, but Benny from Crossroads is here!” What we’re left with is a real scrapbook of the period; lines padded with pop culture references, and continually mentioning people and things you get the sense the pair don’t understand — “heard about them Ninja Turtles, Syd?” — but saw when flicking through the paper. The unrelenting pace gives less a sense of two mates dicking about, leaving no time for corpsing, amid an extraordinary amount of work, with myriad costume changes and lengthy dance numbers which they flail through for seven-minute stretches. Was all this energy and effort a desperate attempt at remaining relevant; at staying on air, with the encroach of younger comics at their heel?

While that first series should’ve been called The Eddie Large Show, at this end, it’s more evenly balanced, and Syd himself is a noticeably more confident performer. Not a good performer, just less like he’s stood with his knees knocking and a gun to his wife’s head off-camera. Now he only fumbles some of his lines rather than all of them. Incredibly, Eddie’s impressions have gotten even worse, perhaps because they’re used sparingly and he’s not even getting the practise, now reduced to the absolute basics — “Lovely jubbly! Cushty, Rodders!” as Del Boy, with a “my wife Marlene…” as he slips into Boycie. Most consist solely of saying the names of other characters from the shows of whoever he’s meant to be.

The ‘character’ of Eddie is also less sex-obsessed, and the series has an even more babyish feel, not helped by the garish early 90’s colour pallet. One notable absence is the word ‘Soopersonic’, which doesn’t get used once. Things are broken up with a song by weekly guest performers, like Chesney Hawkes and Bananarama, who don’t interact with the pair, and most likely hopped over from the studio next door when they were doing TOTP.

In show canon, there are ‘at home with the boys’ skits, starting when Syd, in pyjamas, comes into Eddie’s bedroom to wake him over a noisy car alarm, establishing that they share a house (and “our lovely new car”), but not a bed. Through there’s a bunch of bachelor domesticity sketches, including one where Syd’s about to propose to his girlfriend of 12 years (who’s apparently not fussed him sharing a house with Eddie Large), it’s noticeably not always the same set, even in the space of a single episode. Another (mildly) interesting note comes in an art gallery skit, where Eddie’s called Cyril, which is Syd’s real name, as they argue whether a painting’s by Michaelangelo or Leonardo, leading to this reveal, which is either ruined or made better by Eddie letting out a “Cowabunga! Let’s go for a pizza dude!

I’ve seen some foreboding title cards in my time, like true crime docs warning “this film contains real footage of human death,” but none so chilling as the words LITTLE AND LARGE GREASE MEGA MEDLEY. These medleys are the real core of their closing era, with incredibly dense, seemingly unending segments functioning as a Jive Bunny megamix of both the period’s culture and Syd and Eddie’s comedy. It starts how you’d expect; a greaser gang, Eddie in a quiff singing Summer Lovin’, and Syd in falsetto and a dress as Sandy. Barely begun, and already I’m yearning for Arthur Mullard and Hylda Baker.

Once again, for much of its stretch, the lyrics are unchanged, until eventual comic intervention in the form of impressions; Eddie as Jimmy Cricket and Vera Duckworth, Maddi Cryer as Cilla and Dot Cotton. It pivots into various asides, including Eddie rowing a bathtub out of frame to the Hawaii 5-0 theme, a Blind Date parody with Eddie as Rab C. Nesbitt, the Kwik Fit Fitters, and Syd dancing in a tiny bikini. These big closers tail every episode, and I can’t lie, they end up winning me over; undeniably awful, terrible shit, but at the same time, pretty great. Each one a tour de force of naffness, to their credit, the energy level is off the scale, neither them nor us allowed a breath, in the comic equivalent of hardcore techno that shakes your fillings out. I can’t begin to imagine what it was like for the audience, as with costume changes and stop-start filming, these things must’ve taken half the night to shoot, leaving them sat listening to a looped Ronnie Hazlehurst cover of the Ghostbusters theme or whatever, for hours on end.

Episode two’s opener respectively puts Syd and Eddie as Rod Stewart and Tina Turner, joined by David ‘Kid’ Jensen, who they confuse for David Jason. “Know what I mean, Rodders?” says Eddie. Notable sketches include Eddie as a tattooist who gets a call from his wife, inking the shopping list on Syd’s back, most likely with a real tattoo gun he swapped with the prop one for a joke. If you’ve slept with Syd Little, please confirm or deny in the comments. A BBC gift shop skit, shelves lined with Edd the Ducks, showcases their MO of bombarding you with visual gags, terrible puns, and Eddie’s voices; with Bruce Forsyth soap — “nice to clean you, to clean you!” — Blankety Blank wine — “more like Plonkety Plonk!” and an 18-inch long matchstick — “that’ll be Match of the Day!” Of course, there are haunting Jim’ll references, like the notion he’s got his own brand of glue; “a tube of this, and you can say Jim fixed it for you!

This week’s finale is very exciting for me, with a bat and spooky skull, and the legend LITTLE AND LARGE’S MONSTER MEGA MIX, in a conflation of both my main interests; horror and Syd Little. I loathe just repeating what’s onscreen, but to help one appreciate the sheer density of material, it really needs to be accounted for in full. Opening with another straight cover, this time Ghostbusters, we spin off into Thriller, The Birdy Song, and Stayin’ Alive, as Eddie the vampire bites into a goth lady — “She’s tasty, tasty, very very tasty!” Sister Sledge’s Frankie gets sung at a Frankenstein, while Syd (as the Bride) bashes it to bits with rubber wrenches. Buddy Holly, Dave Clark’s Bits ‘n’ Pieces, and when Eddie catches Frankie’s severed noggin, Oops Upside Your Head. For an eerie skit, the only genuinely frightening moment comes during an arbitrary turn into Do The Bartman.

Then, to more Thriller, it’s Eddie as a hunchback (cape falling down to reveal a plastic-fanged Kenny Baker on his back); the Addams Family; Eddie as Max Wall doing the Monster Mash; Syd as Freddy Krueger — glasses perfectly on top of the mask — scratching a vinyl of U Can’t Touch This with his razor-glove. By now, I’m reeling, on the ropes and waiting for the knockout blow. L&L charge in with another devastating combo; Eddie as Frank Spencer as the Phantom of the Opera; Charles and Di, but cheating by using rubber masks, and an ET parody where the silhouette of Eddie Large rides a bike across the moon, and ET’s revealed to be a shop-bought mask of Michael Jackson wrapped in a shawl. By the end of it, with them back to dancing round to Ghostbusters, I’m completely done in, needing six months of bed rest and plenty of fluids. But I’m jerked upright with the defibrillator of episode three’s opening number, and the words “please meet those rivals of rap, Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer!

48-year-old Syd’s out first, blonde wig with lines shaved in it, no glasses, and ‘dancing’ on like he’s skipping through a field. Eddie soon follows, in huge parachute pants and a gold chain — oh, and blacked up; blacked right up; face to chest, for a rap battle with disses like “I’ve seen more life in an old string vest” and “you make Julian Clary seem like a man.” Syd really struggles here, accent and fast delivery leaving him unable to keep up with the lip-synching, and even his pre-recorded track goes a bit Pam Doove. Visibly unconfident at the dancing, he looks terrified, eyes flitting off-centre and clearly trying to remember which move is next. At first, I thought part of the gag was his being a few steps behind the backing crew, like Jones in Dad’s Army, but by the end it’s clear he’s just fucked, almost bumping into the others during the final dance-off. Though Eddie does well to keep up with a hugely energetic routine, it honestly seems like he might not survive it, if indeed he’s not slayed by the sheer heat of Vanilla’s bars — “Iceman’s a nice man, a very very nice man. I play it cool, but you gotta pay the price, man…

By far, the funniest sketches are those with such an obvious reveal, they give the satisfaction (and shame) of feeling like you came up with it first. When Eddie’s a goalie, fouling Syd for a penalty and asking if he can change his gloves, you know it’s cutting to him in a giant pair about six feet wide. Ditto when Syd reminds him the doctor’s banned him from chocolate and booze, but he can have one chocolate liqueur a day. Is said liqueur the size of a child? You bet! There are loads of these; a customs officer pulling apart Russian Eddie’s babushka doll, and then his suitcase, which has a succession of smaller suitcases inside; Eddie using a car jack and Syd’s head busting through the sunroof; “smoking table, sir?” asks Eddie the waiter, before Syd’s whole table starts billowing like Carry on Screaming; the lads betting on golf, and Eddie tipping the telly so the ball rolls in the hole. Having your expectations so vividly met feels like lucid dreaming when you’re awake. Am I shaping reality? When Syd complains of Eddie hanging a mirror wrong, did I make Syd shake his head at an upside down reflection?

This final series perfectly demonstrates the reason sketch shows don’t get made now, with dozens of quickies, all needing costumes, props, background extras and locations that only get used once, and must’ve burned up half a day’s filming. Barring two Antiques Roadshow bits over the six episodes, there are no recurring sketches, with everything a one-off. One has Syd giving Eddie a pass on his cycling proficiency test, with the joke that Eddie cycles straight off in sped-up footage, weaving all over the road and causing an accident. That probably took a whole morning; getting the road closed, the cars rehearsed and in sync, all the cones laid out, plus time for Syd to work out how to get a high vis bib on. Later, they’re sailors christening a new boat, but realise it’s been bricked up (ala cars with their wheels nicked). Twelve seconds long, for which cast and crew had to get to the dock, procure a boat and other props, plus jumpers and a captain’s hat. Before you ask, yes, I have seen a sketch show before, but the amount of work and money really stands out, considering the quality, and the fact these shows were essentially consigned to the dustbin of pop culture the moment the final credits rolled.

Megamix three is ROCK AND ROLL, and as we’ve learned, comics of that era, from Davro to Starr to Les Dennis, fucking loved the 1950’s diner Americana aesthetic. Eddie as the Big Bopper does the phone bit, with Maureen Lipman picking up, before cameos from Mary Poppins and Syd as Postman Pat, and Eddie as Elvis (the toilet years) meets Eddie as Deputy Dawg in split screen, with matte lines about six inches thick and the eyelines all wrong. Syd as Buddy Holly you expect; less so, Eddie as Little Richard — one foot up on the piano, one tin of boot polish slavered over his face. But then it’s Syd as Chuck Berry (blacked up, and looking like a sleep paralysis demon), Eddie as Fats Domino (blacked up), and Eddie slinging on a pair of glasses (but still blacked up) as Ray Charles. What with MC Hammer, is this the most individual uses of blackface in a single episode of anything?

Episode four’s opener is a Status Quo tribute, with Syd ‘n’ Ed in wigs, joined by Bob Holness for some reason. Bob’s not into it, and various celebrities try to cajole Bob into banging his head. So wonderfully, terribly Eddie Large are the impersonations, that I don’t need to name them for you to know who he’s doing.

     “Come on, Bob, join in with me and Di! Bang your heads!

     “Oh, we love to headbang, don’t we, Zippy?” “Oh, yes, it’s exciting, isn’t it, George!

     “I’m Popeye. Eat your spinach and bang your head!

     “Tell him to bang his head, Barney!” “You’ve gotta bang your head, says Fred!

The megamix is COUNTRY AND WESTERN, opening with The Devil Went Down to Georgia, which is fitting, given that I too stood at the crossroads, ignoring a sign marked ‘Normal Life Kissing Girls and That‘ to fucking pelt straight down the road for ‘Become Obsessed with Little and Large‘. Eddie’s Kenny Rogers and Syd’s the Milky Bar Kid, with Maddi Cryer donning giant knockers as Dolly, battering her dancers offstage to boing sound effects. In one-in-the-eye for alternative comedy, Maddi’s Ruby Wax tells Syd and Eddie (as Laurel and Hardy) that they’re “up-chuck city,” so they give her a pie in the face. There’s also appearances by Rab, Jimmy Cricket, Gazza, and a parody of The Bill‘s opening credits, needlessly dressing Syd as a female PC with absolutely gigantic jugs, seeing as they were already out of the prop cupboard. It ends with a fiddle duel, where Syd spins around like Wonder Woman and morphs into Nigel Kennedy, which out of Syd’s many, many looks, is the closest he’s come to being a hunk.

This makes episode five’s opening doubly upsetting, with Syd as Cher, in the outfit from Turn Back Time where you could basically see right up. It’s quite the sight, with shocked cackling from the audience, especially when Eddie joins dressed like a Mad Max dominatrix, in knee high boots and stockings over leather knickers. There’ll be some out there for whom this skit really awakened something. Later, Dannii Minogue makes a cameo, politely laughing through Eddie’s jokes about Skippy and Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport, and screaming when he accidentally (for real) squirts her with a can of Castlemaine XXXX which goes everywhere when he opens it.

But the pair have never seemed more at home than in the CLIFF megamix. Cliff’s been one of Eddie’s trademarks, and Syd was born to be Hank Marvin, miming to his guitar even when there’s no guitar on the track. Running through Cliff’s various hits and looks, this is very much an Ages of Cliff retrospective, although we’re some decades too early for Syd to impersonate the pilot of a BBC helicopter filming a house that’s being raided by Operation Yewtree. A wraith-like Thatcher crawls up out of the mist during Devil Woman (I knew they were good Labour boys), and then during a recreation of Cliff’s single from Phantom, this happens.

Okay, dude, who ordered the pizza?!” Syd lets himself down terribly here, given the world’s easiest impression of Jim Bowen, and fucking up the lines — “marvellous, smashin’, super, great, smaffin’ [sic]… smashing!” — but they don’t have him do another take. The last eighty seconds knocks the subversion on the head, and is simply Eddie Large in a white suit, doing a very straight, very impassioned, very gospel cover of From a Distance, in what at this stage in my viewing, becomes something close to a religious experience. As we reach the final episode, this is more than just the end of a series; it’s the end of an era. How will the lads go out? What form will their final bow take, as watched at the time by 6.4 million people? “It’s our tribute to those glitter rock stars of the 70s!” Okay. “Elton John…” Fine so far. “…and Gary Glitter!” Oh.

Syd as Elton, in pound shop comedy glasses, bangs away on the piano, before the stage starts to revolve. A chant goes up; “Come on, come on! Come on, come on!” The cheers are enormous as Eddie’s Gary Glitter emerges triumphantly, under a shower of confetti. His shiny Max Moon outfit leaves Eddie glinting as studio lights ricochet off its surface, and in a strangely prescient gag, Syd tells Eddie he looks like a mirrorball. “Cos I sparkle?“No,” says Syd, “you want hanging.” After an admirably awful joke — “It took five cobblers to make these shoes.” “That’s a lot of cobblers!” — it’s a routine which takes on greatly different resonance in hindsight.

With less than thirty minutes of their TV careers remaining, Eddie says the television of the 1970s is coming back, as an excuse to do his Columbo (“Hi, my name is Columbo”); his Kojak; his JR Ewing; “What do you think of my platforms? These are oil platforms!” Syd reprimands him; “Eddie, we can’t be stuck in the 70s, we’re in the 90s now. There’s new programs on television!” — and all in a sketch which finally harks back the format of 1978’s first series, with Syd barely getting a line in while Eddie runs through his repertoire of voices. There’s a circular feeling, with Eddie getting the audience to join in with Brown Girl in the Ring, which he sang in the very first episode, although their sing-along with Glitter’s Do You Wanna Touch Me, the camera cutting to rows of people joyously raising their hands on the YEAHs, may be the biggest mass cancellation on record, like those stadium weddings by the Unification Church.

There’s more than a little pathos in all this; a routine about moving forwards whilst falling back into their old rhythms, and energetically (and from their position in the past, unknowingly) performing a medley by, at best, history’s second most reviled performer — behind Savile — sadly rendering the episode forever unrepeatable. The audience are well into it, but watching from here, it’s like seeing the pair slowly sinking into the mud, and not realising that everything seems to be getting taller until Syd’s glasses are floating on the top. To cap off the irony, it ends on the line “as a matter of fact, we’re back!” as Eddie and Syd punch the air under a shower of sparks, and the cheering and whistling of their fans.

One odd stand-out here is the stopover to a canal boat to meet Wandering Walter, a Jethro type comedian, dispensing rambling old jokes via regional accent. This clip has been semi-notorious among comedy fans for years, and Walter was a popular comic around the local clubs, whose obituaries all make mention of his lone TV appearance on The Little and Large Show. It’s infamous for a reason, with the half-asleep/suddenly-shouty delivery of when you pushed your nice teacher a bit too far, and with jokes like “Where would you find a tortoise with two legs on the canal? Where you left it.” But there’s clearly not enough room on the barge for all three of them and a camera, so it’s all been shot in three separate takes, making it worse in the knowledge they’re all just talking to nothing. Nearing the end, there’s a sketch in a train carriage where Eddie’s got a right sweat on. As he does impressions from ‘Allo ‘Allo, the unforgiving close-ups are of a man who’s aged twenty-five years since the first episode, and by the end of it, there’s great rivulets of sweat streaking down his face.

Our final megamix fills me with the most dread yet, with two simple words: BLUES BROTHERS. I’ve spoken before about my loathing for the most ‘two dads at a wedding reception’ song of all, Everybody Needs Somebody to Love, which served as the lazy, audience-rousing standard for what felt like endless decades of men putting on sunglasses to run up and down bellowing “You! You! You!” over the sound of trumpets, for literally hours at a time. Like their Laurel and Hardy, at least they’re the right shape for it, as Syd runs on the spot while Eddie thrusts a Cumberland finger at us to implore “we need you, you, you!” Judging by the look of him in that train sketch, this one might put him in the ground. They must’ve had to burn his suit at the end.

This time, I’m grateful for the impressions which interrupt, taking precious respite in Vera Duckworth and Mavis, in Gazza and a line of nuns doing the Kia-Ora ad, and even in a trio of women I drew a total blank on, until the line “leave it out, we’re birds of a feather!” Though they’d appear together on other shows, such as Win Lose or Draw, Noel’s House Party, and the Big Break Christmas special (dressed as Popeye and Olive Oyl), as a duo, the last big hurrah on a stage they could call their own is a final ninety seconds of furious dancing to the same two bars of Everybody. Eddie’s visibly struggling, even jokingly flinging a handful of sweat from under his armpit, and an exhausted Syd is giving it his best, but then, like every fragile human life, suddenly, it’s all over. Thirteen years and seventy-six episodes, finished, and literally never to be repeated, leaving its songs and jokes an occurrence which could only be experienced by those who were there at the time, like seeing a UFO. If Eddie as Vera Duckworth says “Mr. Holdsworth sent me t’ fish finger counter to count the fish fingers. Well I never knew fish had fingers!” and it’s never repeated or released on DVD, did it really happen?

Their next act at the BBC would be to collect their p45s, before history — rightly or wrongly — relegated them to the creative bottom rung, below their contemporaries, and with the legacy of embodying all the horrors of variety past. The lads, they took it as far as they could, against all odds, laffin’ and jokin’ all the way from the seventies and into the nineties, and they (and I) have earned a nice sit down. But maybe I’ve just spent 5,000 words telling you what I could’ve in a single sentence — in a sketch with Billy Pearce, a man’s wig gets whipped off with a fishing rod. “Alright,” says Eddie, “keep your hair on!

This piece first appeared on my Patreon, where subscribers could read it a month before it landed here. If you’d like to support me for as little as £1 a month, then click here to help provide the world with regular deep dives about weird-bad pop culture, early access to my videos, my podcast, and all kinds of other stuff.

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~ by Stuart on September 5, 2021.

10 Responses to “Little and Large – The Final Series”

  1. Crazy this was still on when we had red dwarf and bottom on.

  2. I wonder if the opening of the last episode was actually meant for the first? From the description it feels more like a grand series opener than the NKOTB one, with the “as a matter of fact, we’re back!” climax and also the “we can’t be stuck in the 70s, it’s the 90s now” impressions re-cap.

    There are some claims that this last series was repeated precisely once, in the summer of 1992 – although BBC Genome says otherwise. I do hope it wasn’t, if only for the way most of the up-to-date 1991 cultural references would have already felt incredibly old by the Summer Of Grunge, which would make it even worse all round. (If you wore a Bart Simpson T-shirt during that time, people who didn’t have Sky would tell you that The Simpsons was old and crap now, because none of them had seen Marge Vs. The Monorail.)

    However, the Genome does reveal the very last thing L&L did for the BBC before getting those P45s: a Radio 2 series in ’92 called “You Can’t Have One Without The Other”, which was some sort of clip show or documentary about double acts in which they regularly appeared.

    After that, there’s a handful of appearances on things like Noel’s House Party, “Summer Afternoon with Ed Stewart” (whose breath stinks, so it is told), and Bobby Davro’s desperate last throw of the dice, Public Enemy Number 1. And they’re in the 1993 Children’s Royal Variety Performance, with the likes of Leslie Grantham, Sonia, and the massive-at-the-time ventriloquist Ronn Lucas. Oh, and Rolf fucking Harris, because you’re never far away from a Yewtree when you revisit the past.

    • This comment’s more comprehensive than my actual post! Now I’m wishing they had made it another year, to see the inevitable grunge sketch (Eddie as Kurt Cobain, Syd as the Teen Spirit janitor’s mop).

      If I were a real masochist, I’d track down all their post-series appearances together. I have already covered their shots on Double Dare and Noel’s House Party in some form, so I’m halfway there already…

  3. The UK did not get the Simpson’s till 96 so kids who did not have sky would be wondering about the Simpson references.

  4. As you say, what is remarkable about “The Little and Large Show” is despite lasting 13 years (nearly four years longer than Morecambe and Wise’s tenure at the Beeb), starting just before the initial stirrings of alternative comedy and ending when traditional mainstream humour was taking its final curtain, and some impressive viewing figures during its run, virtually every episode and every sketch and (attempted) gag is now confined to, save a few examples turning up on YouTube, absolute extinction.

    Eric and Ernie’s work is quite rightly appreciated and revered via innumerable DVD’s despite some occasional dissenting voices, and even every one of Cannon and Ball’s series on the other side has also turned up on said circular discs, but Syd and Eddie’s shows being repeated or on DVD? Nothing. Zilch. Nada. Diddly-squat. The Beeb and Network have resolutely refused to even issue a complication of their best moments, which as Stuart indicates, would probably barely last five minutes, anyway. It served its purpose, whatever that was, at the time, but it has to be said, alongside the endlessly hyped reality TV trash of the present day, it seems positively superior and imaginative broadcasting in contrast decades later.

    • The fact there was literally nothing shown after Eddie died of Covid, even after the heartfelt tributes in the press; not even tucked away on iPlayer; suggests those shows will genuinely never see the light of day again.

  5. Have you thought about doing a piece on the awful It’s Ulrika.

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