Burnistoun - In The Press
Burnistoun creators in philosophy show for school kids
Online now and airing on the BBC Learning Channel and BBC Scotland in the summer, Enlighten Up! seems an unlikely television return for Burnistoun creators Robert Florence and Iain Connell.
Written by Jay Richardson. The Scotsman, 18th April 2013
I can't believe I'm the last person to be turned on to Burnistoun's pawky, plooky wit, to move around the workplace shouting "For real!", to instruct the kids that when you find yourself dissatisfied with your surroundings, the only reasonable response is "Up the road!" It didn't grab me at the start and I gave up - too soon, because new sketch shows often seem more miss than hit until they get under your skin, and in its third season Burnistoun has got under mine like scabies. Third and last, alas. The "Save Burnistoun" campaign - which I'm prepared to downgrade to the "Gie's a Christmas special at least" initiative in exchange for a month's supply of macaroon bars because, yes, I can be bought - starts here.
My criteria for a winning comedy are: a) Does it make me laugh? b) Are there good-looking burds in it? c) Does it allow me to come over all pretentious about sub-text, deeper meaning and Scottish identity? The answers are yes, yes and yes. Burnistoun seems to be saying that Scotland, formerly a land of inventors, may be stuck in the hoose these days but it continues to embrace the new. Who is Jolly Boy John, home-broadcasting on his laptop in Speedos to techno, if not the son of Jolly Boy John Logie Baird? As Scott, shell-suited mate of the equally sports-casual Peter, puts it: "Even yer maw's life-streamin' noo."
Not all change is good. The "Up the road!" boys loathe trendy ambience when they're out for a drink or a meal. Hairy McClowdry, host of Kiltie Time, incorporates Kanye West and Ryan Gosling into his heedrum-hodrum rhymes but that's deemed acceptable, whereas it's not okay for history presenters to stride around moors, all lustrous of barnet (Neil Oliver, I think they mean you). If there's schizophrenia at work on Burnistoun, well, isn't that the national condition? One thing we can all agree on, I'm sure, is that it's plain wrong for local talent to swan off to Hollywood and come back talking about how great it is to be "Skaddish" (Lulu, Sheena Easton and Gerard Butler, stop it now). If the show's creators, Iain Connell and Robert Florence, ever get to Hollywood - and I'd love to see Burnistoun: The Movie - it's a pretty safe bet they won't make the same mistake.
Aidan Smith, The Scotsman, 22nd September 2012
Burnistoun review - Episode 3.1
Hilariously inventive and original sketches dominated the half-hour episode. You'll have to catch the show on iPlayer.
UK TV Reviewer, 14th August 2012
Robert Florence and Iain Connell interview
Robert Florence is the dreamer of the pair while Iain Connell brings a sense of reality to the table, but when the Burnistoun writers get together, the result is infectiously clever comedy.
Written by Jay Richardson. The Scotsman, 13th August 2012
Burnistoun writer Robert Florence dashed the hopes of thousands of fans yesterday when he confirmed the "death" of two of the show's most popular characters.
Walter and Paul, also known as the ice-cream brothers, were last seen with their ice-cream van rolling into the sea in the cliffhanger ending of the second series on BBC Two.
Fans of the duo had hoped Florence and co-star and writer Iain Connell would resurrect the duo for the third series. But Florence yesterday tweeted that the pair were "dead".
But he later added: "All this is subject to change of course." That sparked hopes the pair will live on as characters beyond the grave, perhaps meeting their late "mammy".
The Daily Record, 19th January 2012
Can a Scottish comedy find acceptance in English living rooms is a question being tested by Burnistoun, a sketch show from north of the border. Subtitles would occasionally be helpful, but I laughed a lot, particularly at the racehorse who took exception to a punters' insults and turned up in the back seat of his car to give him a good hoofing.
Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent, 21st October 2011
Burnistoun is a bit like the Scottish version of Father Ted's Craggy Island or The League of Gentlemen's Royston Vasey - a weird small town that's home to the grotesque comic creations of Robert Florence and Iain Connell, such as catty ice cream men Paul and Walter, insecure "neds" (yobs) Peter and Scott, and Eighties-pop-loving, hair-trigger policemen McGregor and Toshan. Two series have already aired in Scotland; this episode collates highlights from the first series. It's no Little Britain, but it's passable, childish fun.
Sam Richards, The Daily Telegraph, 12th October 2011
Burnistoun series 1 (review)
Amid the painful nonsense that masquerades under the banner 'comedy sketch show', it's a truly remarkable surprise to have a show like Burnistoun on our very doorsteps.
Written by Brian Donaldson. The List, 23rd May 2011
If you've not seen Burnistoun don't worry - most people haven't, primarily because it's only broadcast on BBC Scotland and thus if you live anywhere else in the UK you have to watch it on iPlayer.
It's a shame, really, because Burnistoun is a very good show. To give you a quick summary of what it's about, the show features a range of different characters played by Robert Florence and Iain Connell in the fictional town of Burnistoun. The most famous characters are Paul and Walter, the owners of the town's ice cream van who always share a moment of high tension.
This week, idiotic Walter got petrified from watching a horror film which turned out to be Jools Holland's TV show, had to deal with a women who wanted to buy tampons and Paul tried to break up Walter's relationship with his best friend - a Breville sandwich toaster. The sketch was just bonkers but utterly brilliant. Bizarre ideas kept building on top of the other until the point that all you can do is drive your van away.
The best way to describe this show is simply 'daft'. Sketches featuring two Kenny Rodgers impersonators falling in love, a rap about shoes being left on top of bus stops, and a trailer for a horror film about a terrifying wee wardrobe are amongst some of the oddities that are on offer.
As said before, it seems baffling that such a show is not being shown nationwide, because it clearly is a hit over the border. For me, it's rather like one of those situations where they try out a TV show on a digital station before moving it over to a terrestrial channel. If it's successful, then it'll no doubt be given more public exposure. I say that, but it already is successful really, so if the BBC wouldn't mind sticking it on in England now I think we'd all be glad.
Ian Wolf, Giggle Beats, 11th April 2011
Kirsty Strain reveals the inspiration behind her career
Kirsty Strain is getting used to being laughed at. As one of the stars of BBC Scotland comedy show Burnistoun, the actress and model is usually on the end of a punchline.
Written by Steve Hendry. The Sunday Mail, 3rd April 2011
Audio slideshow: The Burnistoun Boys
Iain Connell and Robert Florence, the writers and performers of Burnistoun, take us behind the scenes of the second series.
BBC Scotland, 25th March 2011
Burnistoun comedy lads have their eye on Hogmanay slot
Burnistoun comedy writers Robert Florence and Iain Connell have admitted they don't care if they are never picked up by BBC chiefs in London - because they've got their eyes on a prize much closer to home.
Written by Paul English. The Daily Record, 22nd March 2011
BBC boss Mark Thompson's Strategic Review told BBC2 to find more original comedies. The irony is, it's had two good ones this year, but only showed them in Scotland: the dark, one-man maelstrom of Limmy's Show, and now Burnistoun...
Set in a Scottish town peopled by cheerful weirdos and menacing idiots, it excels at taking ordinary sketch set-ups and stretching them a little further than other shows, with a macabre twist or a burst of Airplaine!-ish stupidity. iPlayer doesn't discriminate between BBC2 and BBC2 Scotland, so the whole series is online, even south of the border
The Radio Times, 6th April 2010
Thank God for Burnistoun, a comedy that's actually funny. This BBC Scotland sketch show - which I've warmed to after initial uncertainty - is infused with the kind of invention and sheer likeability. Its writers/stars Iain Connell and Robert Florence are a font of agreeably daft ideas, my favourite this week being the guys trying to outdo each other with tales of their old gangster drinking buddies. More please.
Paul Whitelaw, The Scotsman, 2nd April 2010
Cable Girl: Burnistoun
BBC2's terrific new sitcom Burnistoun is inextricably tied to its Glaswegian setting - but why is that a reason not to show it outside Scotland?
Written by Grace Dent. The Guardian, 16th March 2010
A starring vehicle for venerable Scottish comedy scribes Iain Connell and Robert Florence (whose credits include the unfairly overlooked Gregor Fisher sitcom Empty), Burnistoun is an amiable yet decidedly unremarkable sketch show. This is disappointing as they are clearly talented.
But at least they have the courage to produce sketches dependent on verbal playfulness and ideas rather than repeated catchphrases or lazy cruelty.
Their hit rate may be scarce (although I liked the parochial Scottish MP unwittingly elevated to the role of PM), but I cautiously welcome any sketch show in the approximate tradition of, say, Absolutely over the abysmal Little Britain. Maybe it will improve, although the idea is normally that you put some of your best material in the first episode...
Paul Whitelaw, The Scotsman, 3rd March 2010
Connell and Florence interview
Meet comics Robert Florence and Iain Connell, the duo who are set to take over from Scottish comedy kings Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill...
Written by Graeme Donohoe. Scottish Sun, 17th February 2010
There was much crazed comedy to savour in Burnistoun, a scabrous and diamond-sharp new sketch show which should propel its Glaswegian creators and lead performers, Robert Florence and Iain Connell, to the best kind of overnight stardom: the sort which is justly deserved by those who've served years-long apprenticeships.
Having toiled for more than a decade as scriptwriters on such TV hits as Chewin' The Fat, Legit and Empty, Florence and Connell know how to craft singular characters, bizarrely-believable situations and pithy real-life dialogue that will induce helpless laughter.
My personal favourite from F&C's long-overdue solo show amounted to a searing expose of the authentic workings of the Scottish tabloid newspaper industry, as exemplified in The Burnistoun Herald's day-to-day operations. This fictional organ was edited, you see, by a pint-sized monomaniac who insisted on every news story being re-written according to his personal definition of "news" and "story".
We thus saw the gradual evolution of an accurate but mundane report of three masked men walking into a bar into something that would substantiate a ridiculous and attention-grabbing headline: one man in a top hat rolling into a granny's verandah, opening a packet of crisps, thereby prompting a woman to receive a spanking.
As the Burnistoun Herald's witless editor jubilantly exclaimed: "Now we're selling newspapers."
Elsewhere in F&C's contemporary urban Scots dystopia, two street-wise priests strutted, their gallus demeanour echoing that of Charlie Nicholas as they staged a free-market exercise in Roman Catholicism ("Who's got a sin? Anybody out there wi' a sin?"). Burnistoun Tourist Board worked hard to devise a slogan for the town: "It's better than people are makin' it out to be."
Burnistoun's ice-cream van was meanwhile being operated by a sinister fraternal variant on camp interior designers Colin and Justin: Walter and Paul. Walter and Paul are brothers who squabble sibilantly over every item their van has on sale. Walter kept insisting each bar of chocolate belonged to him. Paul wore a beret and wound up having his nether regions brutally exposed. It was all very, very funny - if a trifle too laddish at times. Burnistoun: you wouldn't want to live there, but if you're a lover of comedy, you'd love to see the place again. Pray there'll be a series.
David Belcher, Scotland Herald, 26th February 2009