Hello Cheeky was a Sketch Show that ran on The BBC between 1973 and 1979. The main cast and scriptwriters were Tim Brooke-Taylor, Barry Cryer and John Junkin, with supporting roles and piano accompaniment provided by Denis "Charmer" King.
The format of the show was loose at best, as it was entirely focused on jokes. However, a typical episode would consist of twenty minutes' worth of quick sketches, puns, and jokes, with some novelty songs thrown in for good measure, and the last ten minutes would be taken up with an extended sketch, usually under the heading "Armpit Theatre presents..." Either that, or a series of Twisted Echo Cuts taken to their logical extreme by "playing three programmes at one and the same time", which resulted in jokes, puns, and Double Entendres as the dialogue in the programmes were cut together to form sentences.
In 1976, the show was adapted for television by the Yorkshire branch of ITV. More or less everyone agrees that no great steps were taken to make the material more visual. This version lasted for 13 episodes before fading away.
Counting the twelve surviving episodes of the TV show and the five seasons of the radio show, coupled with three Christmas specials, more than 70 episodes were made, all-in-all.
- All Men Are Perverts: Played a part in one-off gags so very, very often...
Barry: There is a spiritual love, a pure ethereal love that exists between two human beings, enabling them to share each other totally. Each joy, each sorrow...each tiny emotion. They are as one. ...On the other hand, there's WHOAHOHOH!
- Analogy Backfire: Not so much 'exposing another fact about an analogy' as 'exposing why it couldn't possibly work':
Tim: Did you know that if the entire Chinese nation started marching past your window right now, due to the excessively high birth rate in China, the procession would never end?
Barry: ...But how could they if they were mar--
Tim: Shut up.
Barry: Well--no! They're marching, they can't--
Tim: Shut up, Barry.
- Animated Actors: Everyone. Even when they were out-of-character, the cast played themselves as characters -- John was a serious professional, Barry was a lovable swine, Tim was a naïve snob and Denis was narcissistic and smarmy.
- A Worldwide Punomenon: A staple of the show's humor.
- Bad Impressionists: Played around with -- Barry did a lot of impressions on the show, of varying quality. Sometimes, however, he set them up to be needlessly difficult (such as an impression of a discussion on the German economy between Adolf Hitler and a horse). Also, in one episode, he tries to prove he can go international by doing impressions of English celebrities in French. ("Et maintenant, monsieur Tommy Cooper! Exactément comme ca! Non, comme ca!")
- Played completely straight in another episode, though, when Tim claims he can do an impression of a Scotch egg.
Barry: Why 'McSplat'?
Tim: Forgot to mention--it was a very tall chicken.
- Bad Liar: Whenever John was trying to conceal his seldom-brought-up affair with Barry's wife, this trope took effect.
John: Actually, one of my best friends is Barry's wife.
John: I mean...I was just talking about this West Indian dwarf I'm in love with.
- Bilingual Bonus: In one episode, Barry sings a moody song in French...and is soon joined by the rest of the cast, with the tune shifting to Knees Up Mother Brown. If you happen to speak French, you'll notice that the lyrics actually are the lyrics of Knees Up Mother Brown, translated into French.
- Boring Insult: Non-villainous, but still applies. In one episode, Barry is attempting to tell the longest joke in the world, which takes off to a slow start. John makes the aside "He could make World War II sound boring," to which Barry responds by doing his impression of World War II -- it's an amalgamation of accents, sound effects and war songs.
- Brick Joke: In one episode, Tim explains that they'll be broadcasting Rigoletto in two parts. This is immediately followed by a cry of "Rigo--". Fifteen minutes later, we hear a cry of "--letto!"
- Butt Monkey: Denis, who was frequently insulted by the others about his musical ability and height.
- Cannot Tell a Joke: Denis suffered from this. It wasn't so much that he forgot the jokes as it was that his smarmy delivery impacted the humor, and the fact that he'd usually make some sort of happily self-satisfied comment afterwards didn't help.
- Captain Obvious: Dudley Function.
Barry: And now, Dudley Function will talk about his garden.
Dudley: It's at the back of my house, and it's got leaves and flowers in it!
- Cargo Ship: Invoked in one episode, when Barry mentions his irresistible attraction to string. John sneers in contempt, before explaining that a bar of soap is different.
- Cast Full of Writers: Everyone, except for Denis.
- The Cast Showoff: The songs.
- Catch Phrase: See Mad Libs Catchphrase and Share Phrase. The only 'straight' catchphrase was lampshaded -- whenever there was a courtroom sketch, Denis would get the line "Silence in court! Silence in court!". Later in the show's run, he'd refer to it as his catchphrase and claim he was famous for it.
- Celebrity Resemblance: Parodied -- in one episode, Tim, Barry and Denis all confuse John for Doris Day. Especially surreal as John is middle-aged, male, and bald.
- Corpsing: Happened occassionally, and was always coupled with Throw It In. There's one notable instance in the first episode of the TV series -- the sketch stops dead for fifteen seconds while the audience go into hysterics and the cast try to compose themselves.
- The Danza: Everyone.
- Double Entendre: So, so very often. Lampshaded and invoked a lot.
John: And I'll tell you something else that's not much fun on the radio, but a lot of fun on the couch--
Tim: Hello, BBC censor here. It sounded to me like you were going to do a rude joke. Well, I'll tell you that if you try to do that, I will have it off. No, er--I'll cut it off. I--I'll take it out and show it to the Director-General--I'd like to take this opportunity of handing in my resignation.
- In fact, double entendres were used to such an extent that at one point, Barry is asked to tell a clean joke. There's awkward silence for a few seconds, before he says that he doesn't know any clean jokes.
- Ending Theme: See Title Theme Tune.
- Exact Words: Invoked.
Barry: Don't talk to me about the Osmond Brothers!
Tim & John: Alright.
- Favouritism Flip Flop: Used, after John gets annoyed with some of the ridiculous names in a sketch.
John: Who thinks up these names?!
Tim: Head of Radio 2.
John: Bloody good, aren't they?
Tim: Very, very good indeed.
- Gag Series
- The Glasses Gotta Go: Parodied. In one sketch, a manager is talking tenderly to his secretary, finally asking her to take off her glasses. She claims that she can hardly see without them -- he says he doesn't care. She takes them off...and he runs off with her handbag.
- Homoerotic Subtext: There was a lot of it hovering around. Always, always joked about.
Barry: (after a ballet sketch) Hello. I'm Barry Cryer, and I didn't appear in that sketch because I don't hold with that sort of thing. I smoke a pipe, and play a lot of rugby, and...oh, god, Denis has got lovely eyes...ah! I mean...go into the song, darling!
- Hypocritical Humor: From episode nine of the TV series:
Denis: Hi fans, it's me again -- Mr. Lovable. (turns to other band members) Will you shut up when I'm talking?!
- Impossible Insurance: In one episode, there's a parody ad for 'Furtive Insurance', which has you covered if you're kicked by a stag in the London Underground or stabbed by a Guatemalan midget in church. "Remember the name...Furtive Insurance! Our motto -- take the money and run."
- Incredibly Lame Pun: In one episode, John is shot for making a terrible pun, which leads into a lengthy parody of a dying scene.
- Insane Troll Logic: This conversation ensues in the TV series:
Denis: And speaking of John Betjeman...
Barry: ...That was five minutes ago!
Denis: Well, yes, but you must remember that when I cross over from the piano, I cross the international date line. I'm here with you now -- over there, I haven't even woken up yet!
Barry: We can hardly tell the difference anyway!
Denis: How dare you! You'll hear from me tomorrow -- or, as I call it, Wednesday.
- Knock-Knock Joke: Subverted.
Tim: Knock, knock.
John: Who's there?
Tim: Oh, you've heard it...
- Larynx Dissonance: Tim's mother, voiced by John.
- Least Rhymable Word: See Musical Gag.
- Mad Libs Catchphrase: There were three that were shared by all the cast. "Meanwhile, at X, not a thousand miles from Y", "Little-known facts that nobody cares about, number X" and "Home hints for the handyman, number X". Used exclusively by Denis was "Hi, fans! Denis "Nickname" King here!"
- Meanwhile Back At The: The basis of the catchphrase "Meanwhile" -- although as it was used here, it didn't change between storylines so much as simply provide an excuse to do a Smash Cut from one sketch to another.
- Metaphorgotten: Occassionally.
John: A story to stir the blood, quicken the senses, thicken the gravy, peel the potatoes, hoover the carpet, tote that barge, lift that bail, get a little drunk and you end up buying the producer large gins all night...
- Mistaken for Gay: Tim and Barry were both married -- John wasn't. This comes up in conversation during one episode of the TV series.
Tim: Barry, uh...John, is he...(makes limp-wristed hand gesture)
Barry: ...a swan?
Tim: No, no, no, is he...(puts hand on hip, makes the gesture again)
Barry: ...A teapot?
Tim: No, is he...(blows kisses)
Barry: ...To hell with John, give us a kiss!
- Momma's Boy: Tim. A variation, as Tim's mother is not so much My Beloved Smother as a deep-voiced street hoodlum.
- Musical Gag: The song I've Fallen For A Girl Called Agnes, which has no steady rhythm as the singer can never finish a verse, owing to the fact that nothing rhymes with Agnes.
- My Local: The Duck & Pullet, and the alternate version, the Cock & Wallet.
- My Name Is Not Durwood: John casually referred to Barry as "Fatty", and Barry usually responded with "Baldy". In one episode, Barry calls him out on it, explaining that he's gone on a diet and is no longer fat -- John complies, and calls him "Skinny" for the rest of the episode.
- In a stranger example, the gang would sometimes refer to each other casually, using names or nicknames that weren't theirs -- for example "Vera", "Babs", "darling" and "George".
- No Fourth Wall: Characters read letters from their fans, explained technical hitches, or otherwise addressed their listener ("hello, Eric").
- Overly Pre-Prepared Gag: A Running Gag was that Tim would announce a joke, immediately followed by Barry telling an old joke in an overly verbose manner. The sheer length with which he managed to have the jokes drag on made them into this trope -- even if you've figured out what the joke is halfway through.
- Overused Running Gag: A variation -- even though the sketches that "broadcast three programmes at one and the same time" had new jokes every time, the formula was treated as being this trope.
Tim: And now, we present...three programmes at one and the same time.
Barry: We've done it before, and we'll do it again!
John: Have we no shame?
- Phrase Catcher: The appearance of Dudley Function would always be followed by someone muttering "The man's a fool!"
- Produce Pelting: Invoked and played to an extreme in one episode of the TV series. Barry performs another parody Silly Love Song, about being struck by various forms of food ("How'd ya like to squirt me with a soda siphon, baby? / How'd ya like to hit me with a pie?"). He performs it twice -- the first time, it's just sung. The second time, John and Tim attack him with what he's singing about while he sings. (This includes being pelted with tomatoes, struck down with pies, hosed down with seltzer and smashed over the head with eggs.)
- When this was performed on the radio series, it obviously lost the visual.
- Punny Name: Some of the names they made up (Duncan Disorderly, Hamish Wheretheheartis). Some were just silly (Nosmo Thrup, Gladys Upchurch).
- Rapid-Fire Comedy: And how. Barry Cryer once described the show with the statement that "one minute was considered to be an excessively long sketch".
- Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: Occassionally, often regarding sound effects.
Barry: We hope to bring you some laughter, and to bring--bring...oh, sorry, that's a sound effect.
Tim: I say, have you seen this in the paper? It says 'rustles paper'...oh, sorry. (rustles paper)
- Recurring Character: Many, frequently with one specific type of joke allocated to them. There was Dudley Function, a man with No Indoor Voice who said obvious things and slurped every syllable -- Tom Filth, a well-intentioned interviewer who kept tumbling down Freudian Slippery Slopes -- Monty Oddbin, a loud, violent parody of the 'lovable Cockney' type of character -- George Dull, an utterly boring roving reporter -- and Professor Schweineken, who frequently misunderstood other people due to his loose grasp of English.
- Running Gag: People calling in to complain about the programme. One specific complainer deserves special mention...a man who kept calling up claiming to be people he obviously wasn't. These include Mary Whitehouse, The Archbishop of Canterbury, Moira Anderson, and a sheep.
- The different categories of jokes (see Share Phrase) -- a home hint for the handyman would always be an Incredibly Lame Pun, a meanwhile would always be a quick sketch, a newsflash would always be either of the above or satire.
- Any cast member singing a short excerpt from a song, then making a joke based on the lyrics. ("When you walk through the storm, hold your head up high...and the rain will go right up your nose.")
- "And now, ladies and gentlemen...a joke." See Overly Pre-Prepared Gag.
- In addition to these, a lot of episodes established running gags at some point in the episode that carried on throughout.
- Self-Deprecation: All the time. Hello Cheeky's Postbag was an occassional section of the show in which the cast read 'letters from the fans'. Everyone who listened to the show were either out of their minds or hated it.
"Dear Hello Cheeky -- your programme brings a breath of fresh air into my life. Every time it comes on, I go outside."
- Share Phrase: Many.
- "Did you know...?"
- "This is a newsflash. (swoosh)"
- "Your private life is your own concern!"
- "...And they were never seen again."
- Silly Love Songs: Often parodied. Moderately In Love With You is worth a mention.
You aren't quite driving me really insane
But affect a small part of my brain
Like a glass of non-vintage champagne
- Small Name, Big Ego: Denis. In one episode of the TV series, he even refers to himself as Denis "Small Roles, Big Personality" King.
- Sound to Screen Adaptation: The TV series in 1976, in which much material was recycled.
- Special Effects Failure: Occurs sometimes in the TV series, but the worst cases were usually lampshaded.
Barry: The flat downstairs has caught fire?! By jove, how bad is it? (opens door)
(two seconds of silence, then a lone wisp of smoke)
Barry: (shuts door) Oh, there's no escape! It's a raging inferno out there!
- In another sketch, a monster is terrorizing cavemen. The monster is rather blatantly a hand puppet projected on the back wall with greenscreen. The scene goes on for a bit...then Denis, operating the hand puppet, leans into shot, talks to his fans for a bit, then leaves.
Tim: Have you ever seen something so terrifying!?
Barry: I once saw him doing cabaret with his brothers.
- Special Guest: A rather self-aware variation. There were a few episodes with guest stars, and a great deal of jokes in those episodes revolved around exaggerations of the guest's personality and the guest being baffled by or adapting to the show. (Joan Bakewell discovered she enjoyed making jokes and turned into an amateur comedienne -- Sir Terry Wogan kept his distance and made snarky comments about the "three aging funsters".)
- Also, there were a few special episodes with a lot more guest stars. These almost took the format of Variety Shows, with the regular cast just doing comic interludes and introductions.
- Spiritual Successor: To I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again. Both shows featured a cast who played themselves as characters and knew they were in a show, and -- in the first seasons -- shared a producer in David Hatch. As the first season of Hello Cheeky and the last season of I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again ran shortly after each other, the former was actually mentioned in the latter...
David: I'm one of the most talented producers of our time! Good heavens...I produced Hello Cheeky! ...But a man's allowed one mistake, isn't he?
- Spoiled by the Format: Often mentioned or invoked during the final sketch, not in the sense of 'a plot obviously can't end now because there's too much time left', but in the sense of 'the plot has to wrap up quickly because there's no time left'. At least two episodes just end with the sound of fighting going on over the Ending Theme, with John reading the credits in between punches and yells.
- Sting: Invoked in one episode, when Denis asks the drummer to tell a joke. "Hi there boys n' girls, lovable Don Lawson here. You hear about the idiot who bought a scarf? Took it back, said it was too tight! (Rimshot)"
- Also, Denis and the trio would sometimes play a quick, ritzy jingle after any particularly cheesy joke.
- Stock Sound Effects: Many of the catchphrases were followed by a quick jingle or sound effect. The 'newsflash' noise (a rocket swooshing) was especially prone to Lampshade Hanging. "This is a newsflash. (swoosh) Oh, I did enjoy that..."
- Studio Audience: In both the radio show and the TV series. Denis occassionally tried to coach them into applause.
- Interestingly, later in the series, the audience had learnt the Running Gags and actually did applaud Denis as he came on.
- Take That: Commonly to Nicholas Parsons, Max Bygraves, Des O'Connor, Jimmy Saville, Hughie Green, and all the regular targets of the 70's.
- Third Person Person: Denis. Always after telling a (terrible) joke, he'd laugh to himself, then say something along the lines of "He's working well tonight!"
- Title Theme Tune: Taken to its logical extreme. The theme tune is entirely instrumental, except for small gaps which the cast fill with bursts of "Hello, cheeky!" The Ending Theme is the same, except with "Goodbye, cheeky!" instead.
- Trigger Phrase: Parodied in the sketch The Three Faces Of Mungo Haircut, in which the titular Mungo shifts into one of three personalities whenever he hears the phrase 'sausage roll'. This quickly devolves into confusion as Tim, John and Barry play one personality each, and there's a psychiatrist in the scene played by John, the role of which is taken over by Barry while John is playing Mungo...and so on.
- Visual Pun: In the TV series (obviously).
Barry: (to a pig) You swine!
- Bizarrely, visual puns and gags were also mentioned in the radio series. "For those of you who don't like literary jokes, here is a visual joke. (silence) ...Not much fun on radio, are they!"
- What's a Henway?: The show took great delight in subverting the old "Jamaica?" gag.
Tim: I was walking on the town the other day, and I heard two women talking. One of them said "My husband's gone to the West Indies," and the second one said "Jamaicim?"...and the first one hit her.
- Who Writes This Crap?: Combined with an undercurrent of Self-Deprecation, as the cast wrote the scripts.
John: Who writes this rubbish?!
Barry: We do!
John: It's not bad, is it?
- Word Salad Title: The episode titles for the TV series, which weren't exactly word salad, just intentionally confusing. Episode 2 was called "Episode 124", episode 3 was called "Quarter-Final Second Leg", episode 4 was called "Unabridged Version", episode 5 was called "Part 14"...the radio episodes just had No Title.
- Your Cheating Heart: Tim's wife was pretty obviously cheating on him. He was totally oblivious.
Tim: She said "that's alright, I'll call you back, Harold". ...I don't know why she called me "Harold". I think she must have been overworking.
- Barry's wife was also sometimes mentioned to cheat on him, but he was aware of it -- and he cheated on her, so there's some possibility that they both knew and accepted it.
Barry: I've got a crystal ball. Looked in it the other night -- saw the wife kissing the milkman.
John: Was it a glimpse of the future?
Barry: ...No, it was a reflection of the wife kissing the milkman.