Little Britain-The Complete First Series (2003)
Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Matt Lucas and David Walliams
Bonus Episode-Pilot Episode
TV Spots-BBC 3 Idents
Interviews-Cast-Interview with Jonathan Ross
Featurette-What Does Britain Mean To You?
Featurette-Best Of Rock Profiles
Featurette-How To Make A Little Britain
Featurette-Teenage Cancer Trust Sketches
Audio-Only Track-Radio 5 Live Interview (With Gallery)
|Year Of Production||2003|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||
Roadshow Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||Yes|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, Each episode finishes with a botched world record|
"No but yeah but no" ...Vicky Pollard
Like many people, I stumbled upon this BBC series on television completely by accident. And to be honest, I was a little bemused by its concept on my first viewing. Thankfully, I tuned in again the following week and now I'm a huge fan of the program, and indeed its characters.
Little Britain began as a successful radio series on Radio 4 in 2001, with a second series following in 2002.With the massive success of the radio show, the show's writers and creators, Matt Lucas and David Walliams, then made a pilot television program for the BBC. This went to air in February, 2003 as part of the BBC 3 launch. After the success of the pilot, Steve Bendelack signed on as director of the series. Steve's previous work included The League of Gentleman (to which this show has been compared), and The Royle Family. The first of eight episodes in the series went to air in Britain in September 2003.
The concept of Little Britain is a look at the ordinary folk of Britain in a slice of life sort of way, hence the title, Little Britain. These folk are all fictional characters, but you may well see someone you recognise in these people. A humorous narration is provided between sketches by Tom Baker of Dr Who fame. Each character has their own idiosyncratic traits which make this series so enjoyable to watch.
All the main characters are played by Matt Lucas and David Walliams. They both have an amazing talent not only in their writing, but also their ability to convincingly play so many characters. When I first encountered the series on television, I didn't realise until the end of the episode that these two guys were playing all these roles, which is also a credit to the makeup department. Matt Lucas in particular goes through some incredible transformations.
For those unfamiliar with the series, I will briefly run through a few of the little people of Little Britain.
Vicky Pollard (Matt Lucas) is a teenage delinquent who has a constant problem with authority. She uses rapid fire dialogue to baffle her interrogators. Emily Howard (David Walliams) is an over dressed transvestite, who is always stressing the point that she is a lady, and likes doing lady things. Majorie Dawes (Matt Lucas) runs the Fat Fighters group at the local community centre. She is fat herself, but insists she has reached her target weight, all the while criticising group members. Daffyd Thomas (Matt Lucas) lives in a small village in Wales called Llandewi Breffi. He tries to convince himself and others that he is the only gay in that village, even though there are gay men in abundance. Ministerial aide, Sebastian Love (David Walliams), has an unhealthy attraction to the Prime Minister, played by Anthony Head. Lou (David Walliams) is friend and helper to wheelchair bound Andy (Matt Lucas). Lou takes Andy everywhere, and does everything for him, without a hint of a thank you. But is Andy really that helpless?
It may appear as though David and Matt are the only two people in the series. There are of course many minor roles in Little Britain, even cameo appearances from some well known actors, some past, some present. A couple of appearances from the past are Mollie Sugden of Are You Being Served fame, who appears as herself in the final episode. Mollie provides the conclusion to a series of sketches based upon her. And David Soul from Starsky and Hutch also appears briefly as himself in episode two.
The characters I have mentioned in this review are just a small sample of the many that make up Little Britain. Their idiosyncrasies are totally off the wall, although they are merely exaggerated forms of everyday people. More than likely, you will see something in one or more of their characteristics that mirrors a person you may know, albeit I hope on a smaller scale.
Some may find elements in the humour a little crass. The sight of Gary (David Walliams) trying to seduce his best friend's grandmother may be off putting to a conservative audience. However, Little Britain aims at a young adult market, and the humour hits its target.
Little Britain is well presented in a two DVD set. Disc one contains episodes 1-4 and extras (listed below), while disc two contains episodes 5-8 and extras (listed below). The episodes aren't titled, apart from their number, and have no synopsis as such, because of its sketch format.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.
The overall image of the eight episodes is very clean and sharp. Blacks and shadows are excellent, with no evidence of low level noise. Interior scenes which have the camera facing a bright window do tend to gleam significantly, resulting in a soft effect. This is not the case with exterior location scenes, which are bold and sharp. This is not a major problem though, as this is also evident when viewing the series on television.
Colours are strong and bold, and vary from the vibrant of Daffyd's costumes to the drab of Lou and Andy. Skin tones are perfect throughout.
There was no evidence of MPEG artefacts. I did detect some very minor aliasing, which was of no consequence, and you would have to be looking for it to notice it. I found no edge enhancement.
English subtitles for the hard of hearing are available for all episodes, as well as some extras. They are accurate and easily read.
Both of these DVDs are single sided and dual layered. I could not find the layer change on either disc, so I assume they have been placed cleverly between episodes.
The audio transfer is on par with the video transfer.
There is one audio option, English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s), for all episodes and extras. The audio commentary is also presented in English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).
Dialogue was clear throughout, and I had no problems at all in this area. If you have trouble understanding any dialogue, it's more than likely an accent comprehension issue. The Vicky Pollard character will challenge you above all others. Audio sync was spot on.
The original music for Little Britain was written by David Arnold. It has a grand, British "stiff upper lip" quality to it, and suits the content perfectly.
The surrounds and subwoofer were not used, although I recommend the use of Pro Logic on this DVD.
|Surround Channel Use|
This two DVD set contains an abundance of quality extras spread over the two discs that will no doubt please fans of the show.
The menus on both discs are simply brilliant. All are animated and contain looped dialogue from a variety of Little Britain's main characters. The menu themes look great, are well planned and all offer easy navigation. Each menu is 16x9 enhanced and presented in Dolby Digital 2.0.
Audio Commentary - Matt Lucas and David Walliams (writers & performers), with Myfanwy Moore (Producer) Episodes 1 - 4
Comprehensive commentary on all aspects of the production. As you would expect, they do stray from the point at times, but overall, an excellent commentary. English subtitles for the hard of hearing are available for this feature.
Pilot Episode (29:02)
This is the pilot episode screened in February 2003. It contains some sketches that were later added to the series, so we do get some sketch double ups. Still, this was an important and worthy inclusion on the DVD set. The pilot episode has the option of audio commentary with Matt Lucas, David Walliams and the pilot's director, Graham Linehan .English subtitles for the hard of hearing are also available for this feature.
Johnathon Ross Interview (12:06)
British chat show host, Johnathon Ross talks to Matt Lucas and David Walliams about Little Britain. This interview contains bleeped swearing. English subtitles for the hard of hearing are available for this extra.
Deleted Scenes (45:06)
Plenty more laughs in these 24 deleted scenes. There is audio commentary available with Matt Lucas, David Walliams, Myfanwy Moore (Producer) and the director of the pilot episode, Graham Linehan. There are no titles attached to any scene, and no scene selection for them, which would have made finding a particular scene easy. The commentary is well worth listening to, as explanations are given as to why these scenes were not used in the series, or in some cases, altered and re-filmed. English subtitles for the hard of hearing are available for this feature.
BBC 3 Idents (1:18)
This appears to be some sort of BBC promo, featuring claymation type figures dubbed with Little Britain voices. These creatures are featured on the BBC web site, so they don't have much relevance in this country.
An innovative way to view the sketches of a favourite character. Simply select your chosen Little Briton from the playlist menu, and their sketches will play in order. Not every character is available from this list, but most of the main people are covered. This saves considerable work when trying to find a particular scene. There is a very small freeze at the end of each sketch using this option, but it's a wonderful tool.
Audio Commentary - Matt Lucas and David Walliams (writers & performers), with Steve Bendelack (Series Director) Episodes 5 - 8
The same comments apply here as on disc one.
What Does Britain Mean To You? (4:53)
This question is answered by many of the characters of Little Britain. English subtitles for the hard of hearing are available.
Teenage Cancer Trust Sketches (14:36)
In March 2004, cast members performed at a benefit to support The Teenage Cancer Trust. The sound here is a little below par, but is still easily audible. Four sketches are presented, featuring Lou and Andy, Sebastian Love, Vicky Pollard and Daffyd Thomas. English subtitles for the hard of hearing are available for this feature.
Featurette - Best of Rock Profile (28:28)
Before Little Britain, Matt and David did two series of a show called Rock Profile. This show sent up rock musicians by way of impersonations. Shirley Bassey and Geri Halliwell (Matt Lucas) are clearly the best in this collection of highlights. Other lampooned performers include Elton John, Tom Jones, ABBA, The Bee Gees and U2 .English subtitles for the hard of hearing are available for this featurette.
Featurette - How to make a Little Britain (36:19)
An informative featurette, with a lot of behind the scenes footage, both on location and in the studio. It also contains interviews with cast and crew members. Of special interest is the way audience laughter was recorded. All the audience laughter heard in Little Britain is real, and not canned. A live audience is shown location footage in the studio, and the laughter is recorded for the soundtrack. Studio based sketches are filmed in front of that audience. Any serious fan will enjoy this featurette very much - I know I did. English subtitles for the hard of hearing are available for this featurette.
Radio 5 Interview Live (32:07)
A Radio 5 interview with Matt Lucas and David Walliams, with a series of static gallery images. English subtitles for the hard of hearing are available.
Exactly the same feature and options as disc one, but on disc two.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
I could not find any reference to an R1 version of Little Britain Series One.
I checked out the R2 UK PAL version, which appears to be identical to our R4 version. Even the packaging appears to be identical. All features and extras mirror that of our local R4 version, so you can feel confident in your purchase. The local version states on the slick that it's just coded for Region 4, but it is actually dual coded for R2 and R4.
Little Britain succeeds mainly because of the great comedy skills of Matt Lucas and David Walliams. It's a series that should stand the test of time, and is an absolute must have DVD for any fan of the series.
The video and audio quality is excellent overall.
The extras package is outstanding, offering plenty of insights into the programme.
|DVD||JVC XV-N412, using Component output|
|Display||Hitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Amplification||Panasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS|
|Speakers||Fronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17|