Little Britain


Release Date: September 16, 2003

Status: Ended

Seasons: 3

Episodes: 20

Running time: 30m

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Little Britain is a British sketch comedy series that began as a radio show in 2000 and ran as a television series between 2003 and 2007. It was written and performed by David Walliams and Matt Lucas. Financed by the BBC, the radio series was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4, with the initial two television series premiering on BBC Three and the third and final series on BBC One.

The programme consists of a series of sketches involving exaggerated parodies of British people from various walks of life. Each sketch was introduced by a voice-over narration (Tom Baker) suggesting that the programme was a guide – aimed at non-British people – to British society. Despite the narrator's description of "great British institutions", the comedy arises from the British audience's self-deprecating understanding of either themselves or of people known to them. Recurring characters included Andy Pipkin, who falsely presented himself as requiring the use of a wheelchair to gain the attention of his carer Lou Todd; Daffyd Thomas, who claims to be "the only gay in the village" despite much evidence to the contrary; and Vicky Pollard, presented as a working-class chav engaging in anti-social behaviour.

The programme's title is in relation to the term Little Englander (a reference to narrow-mindedness and complacent singularity, exhibited by many subjects of the sketches) and Great Britain. It spurred a live show which toured internationally between 2005 and 2007, various specials for the Comic Relief charity marathons, and the HBO-produced Little Britain USA spin-off in 2008. Walliams and Lucas followed Little Britain with another sketch show, Come Fly with Me.

The series was popular and received high viewing figures, receiving 9.5 million viewers following its move to BBC One in 2005. Despite the series’s popularity, commentators expressed concern on the impact that the show had on the large numbers of children who watched it and on the heavy use of toilet humour, particularly in the second and third series. Concerns were also raised regarding the perceived derogatory manner in which Little Britain depicted women and minority groups. In 2017, Lucas stated that he had come to agree with the latter criticism. In 2020, the show was removed from various UK streaming services due to its use of blackface and then on 16 March 2022, the BBC made Little Britain available to view on BBC iPlayer again with some characters being cut from the original release.

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