Harry & Paul - In The Press

Main News Stories About 'Harry & Paul':

"Their comedy is challenging and bold" sing the massed choirs in the Soviet-style title music, but it isn't really. It's old-fashioned and crude, but there are moments of well-observed madness that make it lovable. What is challenging and bold is making the sixth episode of series four no more than a compilation of sketches from series three, two years ago. So say hello again to Northern Relief, a telethon organised by the Royal Society for the Protection of Northerners and one of the duo's best 1930s spoofs, entitled The Original When Harry Met Sally.

David Butcher, Radio Times, 2nd December 2012

It's fair to say Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse have overmined the black-and-white movie seam in the latest series of Harry & Paul. But I'll happily forgive them that particular obsession. Because their gutting of Ricky Gervais last Sunday was as merciless as their On The Buses meets Sherlock sketch was inspired. If you're quick you might still catch them on iPlayer.

Ian Hyland, The Daily Mail, 24th November 2012

Tonight there's the painful sight of Harry and Paul not just missing a comedy open goal but skying the ball into row Z. They open with a sketch making fun at the expense of Ricky Gervais, mocking his sheepish grins, his self-conscious looks to camera and so on. But the impressions are nowhere near good enough, so instead of our biggest comedy star getting taken down a peg or two by a pair of elder statesmen, it all rings a bit hollow. Shame.

Elsewhere, I Saw You Coming has opened an artisan bakery and the posh surgeons, Charles and Sheridan, discuss video games.

David Butcher, Radio Times, 18th November 2012

More old-style sniggers from Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse, the best of which come in the opening sketch in which the duo reimagine themselves as Ricky Gervais clones, with a "celebrity" appearance by UKIP leader Nigel Farage. It's a mixed bag, but a mirthful moment comes with Sherlock Holmes as seen through the lens of On the Buses.

Gerard O'Donovan, The Daily Telegraph, 16th November 2012

No one would argue Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse are at the peak of their powers these days but boy, when they're on song they still deliver the laughs. Tonight there's a wonderful running gag involving characters firing AK-47s in the air to celebrate good news. It's simple, childish and great fun. The same can be said for this week's "When Life Was Simpler" sketch, where a clubbable 1930s gent decides to get married at the weekend. ("She looks nice, I'll marry her!" he says equably.) And I'm starting to love indecipherable trainer Podraig - another of Whitehouse's brilliant burbling flights of fancy.

David Butcher, Radio Times, 11th November 2012

I'm a bit torn over which is my favourite of the newer characters at BBC2's Harry & Paul. The Fifties East End typing-pool girls played in drag by Paul Whitehouse and Kevin Eldon have to be right up there, mainly because they sound like Russell Brand at his most annoyingly mockney.

But I also enjoy the 'When Life Was Simpler' films from the Fifties. The latest one featured a man being made Director-General of the BBC despite having no experience of or interest in television. Honestly. As if that would ever happen.

Ian Hyland, The Daily Mail, 10th November 2012

If you're disappointed there's no Dragons' Den tonight, take comfort in Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse's version, which is almost as good. Other highlights in an undeniably patchy edition (the ongoing Canal Five sketch is a stinker) include Whitehouse's remarkable transformation into a physically accurate Larry David from Curb Your Enthusiasm and their take on a Mike Leigh film that has Morwenna Banks doing a superb impersonation of Alison Steadman in Abigail's Party.

Funniest sketch of the night award goes once again to the Minor Royals with Enfield politely asking a homeless man who's sleeping rough whether he's doing his Duke of Edinburgh.

Jane Rackham, Radio Times, 4th November 2012

If you're a fan of, say, Keith Lemon or some such terrifyingly trendy comedian, your perspective on Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse is probably similar to the way Eric Sykes was viewed in his later years (Were they funny? Are they still alive?). Well, call me old-fashioned, but I love them. As they've got older, their comedy has got more ripe, more melancholy, more grumpy and, in the choicest sketches, funnier.

Apologies for the namedropping in this week's column, but I remember Whitehouse telling me he didn't realise The Fast Show gang were undergoing a collective mid-life crisis until he watched back the final instalments. Harry & Paul has picked up this theme, adding nice layers of bafflement and reactionary attitude. It's as if everything the pair have done in their careers has been building to the moment - oh blessed relief! - when they could affix ginormous codger's ears, sit in high-back leather armchairs and bluster to each other: "Would you say this one was... quare?"

For the new series they introduced the Minor Royals and some boasting, self-mythologising Irish New York cops (who get outdone by a boasting, self-mythologising Irish New York firefighter). They continued to spoof TV itself with send-ups of Question Time and The Killing - all highly promising. But I think my favourite character is still Marcus who sells useless tat at exorbitant prices to posh thickos.

Aidan Smith, Scotland on Sunday, 4th November 2012

I was surprised to see the new series of Harry & Paul (Sunday, BBC Two) being aired at 10pm on a Sunday. Surely its natural home is a Friday evening, before or after Have I Got News for You? But after a moment's reflection, I appreciated what was going on. Sunday nights have become the most important ratings battlefield, with those who want something serious watching either Homeland on Channel 4 or Andrew Marr's History of the World on BBC One. Those who want cheering up with a bit of comedy head off for Downton Abbey on ITV1 - but where do they go for their laughs after that? ITV1 and BBC One head straight into the news. Channel 4 goes into comedy with the not very funny Friday Night Dinner. That leaves BBC Two.

The question is, are Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse still funny? Yes mostly, is the short answer, though their sketches are uneven. There were some old favourites included in the first episode, such as the intelligent and very posh surgeons, as well as the reactionary duffers in their gentleman's club discussing who in public life is and isn't "queer" (it was Michael Gove's turn in this one). These were unapologetic and well executed both.

But of the new material, some, such as a sketch involving two Irish-American cops in a bar, needed to be run through the typewriter again. While others, such as a black and white Strangers on a Train sketch, I felt I had seen before, Fifties parodies being their stock in trade. A sketch in which a posh racehorse trainer was talking in an unintelligible way to an Irish jockey, meanwhile, had shades of the Ted and Ralph sketches from The Fast Show. But that one can be forgiven if only because they managed to smuggle the "c" word into the stream of impenetrable verbiage in such a way that you were not sure you had really heard it. The most enjoyable of the new sketches was a subtitled parody of The Killing, which then bled into other sketches.

Their satire works best when their targets are generic and broad rather than specific. Their parodies of Question Time and Dragons' Den in this new series, for example, felt too in-jokey, like an office Christmas review in which you send up the bosses. The former would have worked just as well if the chairman wasn't supposed to be David Dimbleby.

The moronic questioner - "If the bankers, the bonuses, the bankers, the bonuses" - was spot on, however, though it didn't need David Dimbleby to spell out that he was a moron. "Man in the green jumper, do you have a clichéd thought for us?"

But the satire of Harry & Paul was never intended to be as sophisticated as that of Armando Iannucci, and there is room for both.

Nigel Farndale, The Sunday Telegraph, 4th November 2012

I'm sure BBC2 has its reasons for burying Harry And Paul at 10pm on a Sunday night. But if Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse can keep up the opening episode's 70 per cent strike rate, I'm definitely in.

Their Question Time skit was spot on, especially the bit about the panel often including a 'comedian who wants to be taken seriously'. I'm presuming it was a reference to the likes of Steve Coogan and Jimmy Carr, but let's face it: the description could also apply to any number of MPs these days.

Ian Hyland, The Daily Mail, 3rd November 2012

To borrow a phrase from their theme tune, hooray for Harry and Paul. Messrs Enfield and Whitehouse have been bounced around the schedules and now occupy a late-night Sunday slot, helping to take the edge off the end of the weekend.

As well as the return of the yobs with a dog, who terrorise innocent bystanders, and spiteful traffic warden Parking Pataweyo, new characters include a minor royal couple, who in episode one enjoy a walkabout in Willesden.

The show also manages to smuggle in the C-word, which must be a first for a mainstream BBC comedy.

Harry Venning, The Stage, 31st October 2012

Harry & Paul returned, combining a few sketches that make you wonder whether the long hours in make-up are justified (I could happily lose Postman Pataweyo and the club gents obsessed with "queers") with a lot more that are masterclasses in comic style. This week included a hilarious sequence mocking the audience participation in Question Time, a lovely British remake of Strangers on a Train, and an excellent variation on "I Saw You Coming", in which the posh bandit set up a stall at a pop festival ("We were at Fleeced last week and we're off to More Money Than Sense next week," said his mark excitedly). It concluded with a Danish makeover of several regular sketches, complete with subtitles, which actually left me breathless. Do yourself a favour and seek it out on iPlayer.

Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent on Sunday, 29th October 2012

In some quarters BBC comedy gets derided for being too PC, but you couldn't say that about Harry & Paul, with its officious immigrant traffic warden and its class stereotypes (half the characters are either thick toffs or tracksuited thugs).

Written by Michael Deacon. The Daily Telegraph, 28th October 2012

Harry & Paul (BBC2, Sunday) seem to have moved to my north-west London manor. Oi, that's the bus stop up the road. "What a wonderful place Willesden is," says Victoria Wood who joins in to play, alongside Harry, a pair of minor royals, visiting a corner shop in a less salubrious part of town than they're used to. It's one of the hits.

What, hit and miss? A sketch show? Really? Of course it is. You could even argue that this kind of traditional sketch show shouldn't have much of a future. But television would be poorer without Harry & Paul, because it can be so good.

It's not about the gags - if you looked at the script, you would probably just think: eh? It's all about the characters, and the interaction of the characters. Enfield and Whitehouse don't just dress up and put on silly voices, they possess their characters. The hits are big hits. "Probable quare" still makes me laugh. And the one at the end where it all goes Nordic noir is a joy.

Sam Wollaston, The Guardian, 28th October 2012

While there's no doubting the ability of Paul Whitehouse and Harry Enfield to do silly voices and funny impressions, their knack for writing fresh, original ideas is far less reliable these days. Following a tired Dragon's Den sketch with an overlong Question Time skit reeks of laziness and lack of adventure, as does the return of the likes of Parking Pataweyo (cor, bloody parking attendants, eh?). While there are a host of 'different' characters, many are just minor variations on the 'overly posh' theme, with each caricatured incarnation identifiable solely by a costume change and a negligible shift in accent. The procession of mediocrity can't even be saved by Kevin Eldon, which doesn't bode well. If anything's going to raise a titter here, it's more likely to stem from a word said in a slightly funny way than from a great gag or smart idea.

Dylan Lucas, Time Out, 28th October 2012

Enfield and Whitehouse return with more silly voices and flashes of comic inspiration (amid, it has to be said, the odd clunker). Probably the best sketch has a lovely cameo from Victoria Wood, who combines with Enfield to play the Minor Royals, a pair of hopeless toffs visiting a corner shop and simply adoring its ethnic ambience ("Mmm, what an exotic aroma... What a wonderful place Willesden is!"). And there's an enjoyable Killing-inspired spoof of the BBC's love affair with all things Danish.

David Butcher, Radio Times, 28th October 2012

They're now more classic than cutting edge, but it's good to have Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse back for a fourth series of their sketch show. Tonight they revisit old ground (their spoof of Dragons' Den) and break out some new characters. Victoria Wood joins in for a dig at the minor royals, and there is a send-up of Question Time.

Toby Dantzic, The Daily Telegraph, 26th October 2012

Harry Enfield was kept firmly under control during filming - strapped into a straitjacket.

The Sun, 4th July 2012

Harry Enfield looks the Queen of mean as he brandishes a machine gun while dressed as Her Maj. Harry, 51, was snapped in a London park as he filmed a new episode of TV series Harry & Paul.

The Sun, 24th June 2012

The most surprising gong of the night at this year's Bafta TV awards was the comedy programme prize which went to BBC2 sketch show Harry & Paul. This is the show, you will remember which was not entirely warmly welcomed by critics. The win will also have come as a surprise to the programme's two stars, Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse, who were otherwise engaged and unable to make the ceremony, and to BBC2 controller Janice Hadlow, who has not yet commissioned another series of the now Bafta-winning show. Busy diaries to blame, apparently. "It's early days," says a BBC insider. "Should know more in the next couple of weeks hopefully." Ruddy hell indeed.

Media Monkey, MediaGuardian, 30th May 2011

BBC comedy show Harry & Paul has been AXED after bosses claimed they had no room for it.

Written by Colin Robertson. The Sun, 25th January 2011

As if scheduled to prove that television comedy is as prone to the winds of fashion as any falling or rising hem, I found myself staring, misty-eyed, at Harry and Paul last week.

Hadn't meant to, but there it was - plonked in the BBC2 schedules on Tuesday, like coming across that old burgundy leather skinny tie in your wardrobe.

As with every unexpected moment of nostalgia, there were a few fond memories, and plenty to cringe at. The sketch in which Harry Enfield translated, dead pan, on behalf of Paul Whitehouse's lascivious Italian politician (think Sylvio Berlusconi gurning on Viagra) reminded you of the pair's Nineties pomp: broad, physical, confident. "Parking Patawayo" was anything but - a crude swipe at African parking attendants, in the style of Postman Pat but, alas, not quite as amusing as Postman Pat.

Mike Higgins, The Independent on Sunday, 31st October 2010

The running gag about the hapless middle-ager who's fallen hopelessly in love with the Polish girl at his local café definitely draws on a dynamic in which the humour lies mostly in what isn't said. Laura Solon is syllable-perfect as the contemptuous Pole, and Harry Enfield wonderfully glum as a man who can't give up hoping, despite knowing that things are hopeless. I'm always glad to see the establishing frame which tells you its coming, which isn't always the case in Harry and Paul, an odd mixture of running gags that still have legs and those that have long run their course. It's a question of taste I guess. "Parking Pataweyo", a cod-children's programme built around a Nigerian traffic warden, struck me as being only just funny enough for a one-off, and a recurrent sketch in which two old clubland buffers discuss the sexual orientation of celebrities is so unvarying in its script that even the energy of the comic acting can't revive it. But I can take any amount of the lubricious Italian prime minister or (a genuinely trenchant bit of social satire this) I Saw You Coming, which revolves around the endless gullibility of ladies who lunch. This week the character had gone into the spa business and was offering a novel activity he called "Detoxerboxercize". "I literally beat the crap out of you," he explained. His mark looked momentarily doubtful until he added the magic words: "It's good for releasing toxins."

Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent, 27th October 2010

If you thought Paul Whitehouse and Harry Enfield stopped being funny around 1997 - well, you're basically right, especially having watched Whitehouse's cringeworthy Aviva adverts. Seeing this series advertise guest appearances from such cutting-edge comic luminaries as Lenny Henry doesn't fill one with confidence either. But give this sketch show series a chance - the veteran pair do manage to recall former glories from time to time, especially with Gabbatore, the corrupt Italian politician with an eye for the ladies (remind you of anyone?), and a Dragons' Den spoof that is woundingly accurate.

Tom Chivers, The Daily Telegraph, 26th October 2010

A hefty percentage of Enfield and Whitehouse's sketches are still hitting the target. Tonight's highlights include a skit poking fun at the blandness of Radio 4 documentaries in which presenters are making one called A Walk on the Beach. The duo's nuanced characters are funny even when their lines aren't, as in the case of the old duffers who argue about the sexuality of famous people. The pièce de résistance remains the Dragons' Den take-off, which tonight satirises City traders and features a familiar face, Tim Nice-But-Balding.

Vicki Power, The Daily Telegraph, 19th October 2010

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