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Friday Night Live (Channel 4 1988, Ben Elton, Harry Enfield)

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From the ashes of the legendary Saturday Live (which itself had sought influence from the American show Saturday Night Live) comes the possibly even more successful Friday Night Live, although it only ran for 10 editions (and a comic relief special). It introduced the nation to the take no prisoners delights of Harry Enfields massively popular characters Loadsamoney (‘look at my wad’) and kebab shop owner Stavros, Loads especially touched a real chord with the nation, tapping into that whole yuppie culture that was everywhere at the time. He even scored a major hit record into the bargain.

Ben Elton was the compere (and there are some choice topical moments from him here) but the show attracted a massive array of up and coming talent so there is the chance to catch very early (if not the first) appearances of people like Jo Brand, Mr Don and Mr George as well as established names like Fry and Laurie, Julian Clary (who arrives on a motorbike to sing Leader of the Pack!), the brilliant Josie Lawrence and Jimmy Mulville.

Stand outs include a brilliant take off of the classic Frost report sketch on Class but this time featuring Princes Charles, Andrew and Edward (Hugh Laurie, Harry Enfield and Ben Elton), a frantic and very funny Lee Evans, an early surreal routine from Sean Hughes (‘look I know what you’re thinking, but I am not Alison Moyet’) an excellent take off of Channel 4’s old video box from Josie Lawrence and an appearance from the that legendary gladioli loving Dame herself with Dame Edna turning up in a white rolls royce and taking the mickey out of Ben Elton.

Although only one series aired as Friday Night Live, the series did basically continue as Saturday Live, again hosted by Ben Elton and with the night dropped from the title to avoid confusion with the American series of that name.

production details
UK / Channel 4 – London Weekend Television / 10×75 minutes 1×60 minutes / 19 February – 29 April 1988 Fridays 10.30pm

Producers: Geoffrey Perkins, Geoff Posner
Director: Ian Hamilton

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