A Conversation for John Esmonde and Bob Larbey - Comedy Writers
Dazza Oxford Started conversation May 18, 2002
In the comedy world it is very easy to overlook writers that are not called Galton and Simpson! So you're piece was a well deserved tribute to a rather unknown pair of comedy writers. I never knew they wrote some of those sitcoms you mentioned I must admit. Tell me, why do you think that they get so much enjoyment in writing about middle England type people and middle England type cul-de-sac comedies?
Global Village Idiot Posted Jun 3, 2002
Thanks for the kind words, Dazza.
It's an interesting question - but my guess is they were writing about what they knew, which is the advice given to every writer.
Please Sir and Get Some In were, I would say, both working class comedies rather than middle class ones. They were about young people, and they were about experiences every viewer would have had (school), or most male viewers would have had (national service). These series reflected their lives to that point.
As their careers blossomed and they matured, they wrote about middle-aged people living in suburbia - The Good Life and Ever Decreasing Circles. In fact, I would say that these are the only two "cul-de-sac" comedies they wrote - Brush Strokes and Hope It Rains were certainly not set in a cosily affluent world.
Appropriately, their collaboration ended with a sitcom about the ultimate challenge of ageing - facing death, and Bob Larbey went on to write almost the definitive growing-old-together comedy in As Time Goes By.
So that's one reason. The other reason is that, at least in the seventies, the BBC was the "middle class" channel and ITV the "working class" one - so they adapted their style to suit their employer.
BTW, if you're interested in their work and want to read more, there's an excellent interview with Bob Larbey online - seearch for his name plus "Writing For Performance".
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