The Magical Mystery Tour
BBC3 has already delivered two classy and original comedies in Little Britain and Nighty Night. This week the channel scores a hat-trick with the arrival of The Mighty Boosh.
The series - which, like Little Britain, first aired on Radio 4 - follows the fortunes of Vince (Noel Fielding) and Howard (Julian Barratt), a pair of zookeepers at the run down Zoo-niverse. Vince, who dresses like a 1970 rocker and describes himself as 'Mowgli in flares', is the most upbeat of the two and connects intuitively with animals. Howard, meanwhile, has the gloomy demeanor of an old-school thespian, and believes he was born for better things.
Together they embark on a series of adventures in the Arctic, the jungle and even ‘Monkey Hell’, trying their hand at anything from playing electro-pop to boxing kangaroos along the way. If it sounds confusing, then who better to explain than the stars themselves – starting with that peculiar name…
‘We wanted to sound like a band,’ says Barratt, who writes the music for the show. ‘Most comedy double acts are known by their names, so we thought let’s just call ourselves something abstract and weird.’
‘It’s difficult to say what it is,’ Fielding chips in. ‘It’s sort of Morcambe and Wise meets Beck, Mr Benn with drum and bass.’
‘We like the idea of those old Road movies with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope; two mates getting into scrapes in a weird environment,’ Barratt continues. ‘They’re quite flippant and playful, they talk to camera – not like a sitcom where you stay with it and you can’t break the reality. We like the idea of mucking around a bit.’
And when these Edinburgh Festival award-winners muck around, brace yourself for some strange goings-on.
‘We’ll start a really simple episode and then five minutes later, there’s a door in someone’s afro which leads to a world of slap bass players or something,’ says Barratt. Fielding nods. ‘We’re not very good at keeping it simple,’ he smiles.
Thus in The Mighty Boosh, when the duo are lost in the desolate wastes of the Arctic tundra, they break into a rap routine (‘Ice – floe – nowhere to go!’) before dancing with a polar bear and thawing out the last words of a frozen explorer. Watch it and you’ll get the picture.
Still searching for the perfect definition, Fielding recalls, ‘The best way it was ever described was by an old black blues player in Philadelphia. His band was performing in the same venue as us, and they used to hang around and catch our show. He said, ‘Man, it’s like you’re from the 1920s one minute, and from the future the next.’
Sounds mighty like the Boosh to us.