I’m a nut for British television! And I’m a nut for blog posts that have installments too! The whole idea of a series of blog posts about (obscure or otherwise) British telly seems so very British in and of itself! So sit back and enjoy a few of my favorite British shows that perhaps you’ll give a looky loo at after my recommendations!
This week I’d like to mention Black Books, a hilarious dark comedy that ran from 2000-2004. With just 3 series and 6 episodes/series you only get 18 episodes of Black Books. Next to Fawlty Towers and The Young Ones (at 12 episodes each) the show practically didn’t exist. But each episode is packed with strange mania that could only occur in a bookshop run by a drunken Irishman… Did that even make sense? The show centers around (and sometimes only features) three main characters:
Bernard Black (Dylan Moran), owner of Black Books is a grumpy, drunken, cynical, pessimistic, and at times neurotic, Irish misanthrope, whose sole pursuits in life appear to be drinking, smoking, reading, and insulting people. Bernard despises his customers, not because he must interact with them, but because they may actually purchase his books. Bernard has no particular love for the books he keeps in the store; it’s just that if someone buys them he has to then ring up and order more, from wherever it is books come from anyway. In fact, Bernard has been known to pay his customers to take their second hand books back with them so he doesn’t have to go through the rigor of indexing and stocking them.
Manny Bianco (Bill Bailey), unlike his boss, Manny is an extremely helpful and skilful salesman, who is well liked by customers. Even his name is the opposite of Bernard’s (bianco meaning “white” in Italian). However, his nature makes him a target of Bernard’s bullying nature; frequently being subjected to offensive insults, violent, and abusive treatment, and occasionally being patronized. Manny experiences the most remarkable events of any of the characters, and possesses some remarkable idiot-savant talents, such as the ability to play the piano at concert standard after hearing a piano piece on the radio. He has also been worshipped as a god by a tribe of savage cannibals in Canada (which Bernard would rather no one discuss, by mutual agreement). He also suffers from severe homicidal rages (Dave’s Syndrome) if his personal body temperature rises above 88°F.
Fran Katzenjammer (Tamsin Greig) is Bernard’s best, oldest, and (technically)only friend. There is an implication that at one time, she experienced a drunken, sexual encounter with him, but Bernard states he isn’t “allowed to” remember it. She run a shop called Nifty Gifty (selling, as Fran puts it, “a lot of wank”), next door to Bernard’s shop, and would often mind the book store while he is out. Like Bernard, she possesses a great enthusiasm for drinking and smoking; however, she genuinely likes Manny and unlike Bernard usually treats him as a true friend. Despite all available evidence to the contrary, she has somehow deluded herself into thinking that she’s more normal than Bernard and Manny.
If that isn’t enough to get you interested, couple in the fact that Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Jessica Hynes, and David Walliams all make guest appearances (because there are only 65 actors in all of Britain anyway). It’s funny, witty, a bit evil, and drunken fun. It’s on Netflix for streaming so go chew through it like I know you want to!
Image Source: [BBWikia]