The best words in their best order. That’s how Samuel Taylor Coleridge summed up the task of a poet.
Not everyone, however, can be Coleridge, nor can they follow his advice, as this slim volume of fictional TV poets proves…
12. Charlie and Dee – It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
Makeup… smearin’/No power steerin’/He be talkin’/but we don’t be hearin’/Speaks like Zeus/Smells like poops/Rage all over from his head down to his shoes.
It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’s alliances between Dee and Charlie are always excellent value. She’s ridiculous, he’s unfathomable and together, they do awful things. One of the worst is this foray into Def Poetry Jams (“I like poetry, but only if it’s def”) in season ten’s The Gang Misses The Boat.
11. Guy Secretan – Green Wing
Some grass/A tree/You and me./Hark!/ The bark!/The sun sinks behind the hill/Like a molten, quivering pill/Sends a spurt of love and thrill/I am Jacques and you are Jill.
Unless you’ve watched the deleted scenes on the Green Wing series one DVD, you’ll have missed the wondrous sight of Stephen Mangan’s absurd, arrogant Guy Secretan reciting this love poem to Tamsin Greig’s Caroline Todd on their countryside outing in Tangled Webs. Revisiting it now, it’s a wonder she didn’t swoon instantly at his feet.
10. William “the bloody” in Buffy The Vampire Slayer
My heart expands/’tis grown a bulge in’t/ inspired by/your beauty effulgent.
The flashback in Buffy’s Fool For Love revealed that “Spike the Bloody” may well have coined his nickname by driving railroad spikes into his victims, but his meek human counterpart William earned it because his love poetry to dear Cecily was “so bloody awful”.
9. Paul Hamilton – It’s Kevin
What’s black and white and red all over?/A magpie that’s been hit by a Rover./And that’s not funny/ It’s a bird all runny.
As Kevin Eldon’s cousin Paul Hamilton is a real poet who regularly performs his thought-provoking, layered work on stage, we don’t know what he’s doing among the detritus on this list. He certainly wouldn’t approve.
8. Queenie – Blackadder II
When the night is dark/And the dogs go ‘bark’/When the clouds are black/And the ducks go ‘quack’/ When the sky is blue/And the cows go ‘moo’/Think of lovely Queenie/She’ll be thinking of you.
Miranda Richardson is unforgettable as Queenie in Blackadder II, and nowhere more than in her dramatic reading of this love poem to Edmund in Potato. Queenie’s not Blackadder’s best worst poet though…
7. Oregon/Melissa Shawcross – Fresh Meat
There aren’t any trees in Africa!/There aren’t any trees in Africa!
Co-editor of her university poetry magazine Rhombus, Oregon is a particular kind of monster. An English student and would-be writer who’d sell her grandmother to become the next Zadie Smith, her horrors are illustrated in this show reel, brilliantly performed by Charlotte Ritchie.
6. Vogons – The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy
Oh freddled gruntbuggly/Thy micturations are to me/As plurdled gabbleblotchits on a lurgid bee.
They may write the third worst poetry in the universe (after the Azgoths of Kria and Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings of Sussex), but the free poetry of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’s Jeltz is only the sixth best worst in this anthology.
5. Lisa Simpson – The Simpsons
I had a cat named Snowball/She died! She died!/Mom said she was sleeping/She lied! She lied!/Why oh why is my cat dead?/Couldn’t that Chrysler hit me instead?
Homer cuts Lisa off before we’re able to hear more of her pet-related lamentations in ‘Meditations On Turning Eight by Lisa Simpson’, but you get the picture. Poor Snuffy the hamster.
4. Diane Chambers – Cheers
I fly through a puckish arena/where echoes dance/where echoes dance/where echoes dance.
Perennial student Diane called Sam’s published poem ‘Nocturne’ “one of the most amateurish, hackneyed, odious pieces of effluvium ever to wash down the pike” in season five episode Everyone Imitates Art, which bit her on the bum when she realised she was its original author.
3. Private Baldrick – Blackadder Goes Fourth
Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom…
Private Baldrick proved himself quite the experimentalist in this minmalist contribution to the work of the World War One poets, titled The German Guns. Ezra Pound eat your heart out.
2. Adrian Mole – The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole
The tap drips and keeps me awake/In the morning there will be a lake/for want of a washer the carpet was spoiled/and then for another my father will toil./My father could snuff it while he is at work/ dad, fit a washer, don’t be a berk.
It only took teen prodigy Adrian Mole two minutes to write ‘The Tap’, a very deep poem about life and stuff like that. Even famous poets take longer than that.
Skip to 4:30 in this video for a look.
1. Rick – The Young Ones
Pollution, all round/sometimes up, sometimes down/but always…around
Who else could possibly top this list but Rik Mayall as The People’s Poet? Specifically Rik Mayall as The People’s Poet doing searing environmentalist performance piece ‘Pollution’?
Words were your weapon, Rick. You wielded them powerfully.
This feature was originally posted in October 2016.