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THE MAKING OF ROB BRYDENíS ANNUALLY RETENTIVE
by Phil Thornton
Commissioning Editor, Comedy BBC3 - You know that we really want to work with you Rob, youíre exactly the kind of person we want at 3 itís justÖ
Rob Bryden - Just what?
Comm Ed - Isnít this just a bit, erÖ.subtle?
RB - Subtle?
Comm Ed - I mean for a BBC3 audience.
RB - Well if you want me to do another Two Pints Of Lager.
Comm Ed - Donít knock it Rob, it pulls in the viewers.
RB - Yeah an audience of idiots. Or maybe you want I dunno, Ideal. Good old fashioned northern stereotypes.
Comm Ed - Yeah but itís Vegas though, you canít lose with Johnny. Whereas this isÖitís not that I donít like it, itís just a bitÖ.hackneyed
RB - Hackneyed? In what way is it Hackneyed? Itís totally original.
Comm Ed - Well, Gary Shandling did it years ago with the Larry Sanders Show.
RB - Larry Sanders! This is nothing like Larry fucking Sanders. Larry Sanders was a CHAT show, this is a QUIZ show. Whereís the connection?
Comm Ed - Well, itís the same premise I suppose, you know the same deconstructive format isnít it? Exposing the mechanics of the production process, how the presenterís a careerist, egotistical tyrant riddled with self-doubt.
RB - I donít believe this. This is ĎRob Brydenís Annually Retentiveí not Gary Shandlingís Annually Retentive, the two things are a million miles apart. Iím taking the piss out of myself as much as anyone else. Thatís why my nameís in the title.
Comm Ed - I know and it is very YOU.
RB - Very ME, in what way is it very ME?
Comm Ed - Well, yíknow itís very 24 Hour Party People.
RB - I had a very minor role in that film, I was only on screen for about ten seconds.
Comm Ed - Yeah but you know what I mean Rob, the general structure of the film, very post-modern.
RB - Oh post-modern now is it? How is this post-modern? In what way.
Comm Ed - Itís a bit yíknow Cock & Bull isnít it?
RB - Fuckís sake A Cock & Bull Story was a film, a FILM, not a sit-com, a FILM about the making of a film about a novel which is unfilmable. Thatís the joke.
Comm Ed - And this is a sit-com about the making of a sit-com.
RB - Thatís where youíre wrong because this is a sit-com about the making of a comedy panel quiz show. I donít see the similarity, I really donít. Are you trying to say that Iím predictable?
Comm Ed - No, not predictable so much, itís just that youíve got your own oeuvre.
RB - Oooh, Iíve got an oeuvre now have I? Go on then whatís my Ďoeuvreí exactly?
Comm Ed - Yíknow deadpan pastiche, knowing subversion of existing formats.
RB - Like what?
Comm Ed - Er, Directorís Commentary.
RB - This is a million miles away from Directorís Commentary.
Comm Ed - Is it?
RB - Ofcourse it fucking is. Look let me go through it again. We get a load of recognisable faces from existing comedy programmes to play my writing team. People who could indeed be real comedy writers themselves.
Comm Ed - Like who?
RB - I dunno, that ginger haired fellar with the big nose from the Orange adverts for example.
Comm Ed - Who? Oh him the fellar from Little Britain, I like him.
RB - Exactly. And er, I dunno, say the black fellar from that double act, what are they called?
Comm Ed - The Kumars at No 43?
RB - No, what were they calledÖ.Curtis and Mayfield or something.
Comm Ed - Oh you mean Curtis & Ishmael, I used to really like them. Which one?
RB - What do you mean?
Comm Ed - Curtis or Ishmael?
RB - I donít know. It doesnít matter. The fat one with the funny cap.
Comm Ed - Iím pretty sure thatís Ishmael. Think heís a black Muslim. Ticks a few boxes for me.
RB - Yeah whatever and anyway, this team of writers and my producer are planning the format of the series with me and Iím pointing out to them how fucking formulaic and lazy it is. Every single round is a direct lift from all these other tedious celebrity panel quiz shows.
Comm Ed - Like the ones you always appear on you mean?
RB - Exactly! Thatís the whole fucking point. Iím committing career suicide.
Comm Ed - But I like lazy formulaic comedy Rob, thatís my job. Why donít you just do it straight?
RB - Do what straight?
Comm Ed - The quiz show, I could sell that to BBC2, itís just up their street.
RB - I thought you were supposed to do all the challenging stuff on here because no fucker watches it.
Comm Ed - Well, to a degree Rob. I mean thereís challenging and thereís challenging. Now if you could give me something like Saxondale.
RB - Oh yes, I COULD give you something like Saxondale like a shot. I could do a Coogan and just stretch a one minute fucking sketch about a self-deluded wannabe rock star stuck in a mundane provincial rut out into a whole series which is itself the same joke as The Office and the CrŤme Brulee character from The League Of Gentlemen, I could do that tomorrow if you want.
Comm Ed - If you could loveÖ.just a little Partridge joke there, sorry Rob go on.
RB - Look, this is radical stuff Iím giving you here. Iím letting people know how phoney it all is, how itís all scripted.
Comm Ed - They already know that Rob.
RB - Do they? I donít think they do. Thatís why Iíve got scenes where we rehearse the jokes with the team captains and then Iím discussing the guests each week with my booker and that allows me to do some great impressions - have you heard my Ronny Corbett? - and I bad mouth all the z-list nonentities and hereís the really funny bit, we actually get some of onto the show and I get to humiliate them further as theyíre in make-up and then we cut and in and out of the quiz itself, which we play as though itís real. Itís fucking genius. Youíll win awards for this, Iím guarantee it.
Comm Ed - Still sounds like Larry Sanders to me.
RB - Oh I fucking give up. What do you want from me exactly.
Comm Ed - Marion & Geoff.
RB - Fuck off.
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