Harry and Paul series 2 DVD review

Remember when Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse were behind the funniest sketch show on telly? Hmmm....

Harry and Paul: the series 2 DVD

Harry and Paul return for a second dose of comedy that never really seems to progress from the days of Harry Enfield and Chums. However, with saucy old gentleman wooing young women with the promise of chocolate, and parodies of black and white films in abundance, the series succeeds in being one of those homely comedies with something to please both grandchild and grandfather alike.

I say grandfather specifically because there’s no doubting this show is very male-orientated, and older generation male at that. There are endless portrayals of women as dumb bimbos and sketches of women almost fainting at the sight of shoes. That said, it’s all very silly and harmless, like the mildly offensive things sometimes spouted by the non-politically correct pensioner who doesn’t know any better.

The show is hit-and-miss, with some sketches simply lacking in laughs, and others – such as “The Writer and the Landlady” proving just plain weird. Where this series succeeds, however, is in its ability to mirror with precision some of the attitudes and thoughts of contemporary Britain, in a way that is far more accurate than Little Britain ever was.

A recurring sketch featuring two fishermen highlights the fashion in which intelligent and educated people are often made to feel uncomfortable around Joe Public simply for having a little culture in them. One of the men attempts to discuss various artworks with his beer-and-Nuts-magazine mate, often adding “or some shit” after a description of a specific documentary or film in order to downplay his knowledge of that subject. It may not be laugh-out-loud funny, but it’s a very keen and informed observation of everyday life.

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Likewise, the first time we meet the posh builders, they are discussing the complexities of modern British art, echoing the thoughts of narrow-minded, perpetually outraged Daily Mail readers everywhere. “A child of five could emulate Brit-Art!” one of them says. “A child of five could make a life-sized statue of a head and fill it with his own blood … a child of five could become a ludicrous parody of themselves!” For somebody who has read the comments left at countless art exhibitions, and always found at least one that states a child would be capable of the work on display at the Turner Prize, this sketch is spot-on at pinpointing those who scoff and throw up their hands the moment their minds are challenged.

Other highlights include a 1920s version of Basic Instinct, with a Miss Marple-type old lady taking the place of the sultry Sharon Stone; Harry Enfield’s pitch-perfect Nelson Mandela; and, probably the sketch everybody has seen by now – the parody of Dragons’ Den. If there’s anybody on current TV who deserves the piss ripped out of them, it’s the permanently sour-faced, joyless, “I’ve got so much money and so many cars” Deborah Meaden. Enfield’s slack-jawed, toad-faced rendition of “the grumpy woman” is brilliant.

As for purchasing the DVD itself, well, there’s little incentive if you watched the whole series when it aired on the BBC. I can’t imagine anybody really wanting to watch these episodes more than once, except the hardcore fan. Even then, there are no special features to speak of, which will come as a disappointment to those wanting to enjoy more unseen Harry and Paul.


2 stars
1 stars


5 out of 5