Revolting People. Copyright: BBC.

Revolting People

BBC Radio 4 sitcom. 24 episodes (4 series), 2000 - 2006. Stars Jay Tarses, Andy Hamilton, James Fleet, Felicity Montagu, Penelope Nice, Sophie Thompson, Jan Ravens and others.

Revolting People. Copyright: BBC.

About Revolting People

Revolting People is a sitcom with an unusual writing team, consisting of a Briton and an American.

The show is co-written by and stars British comedian Andy Hamilton, whose other works include Drop the Dead Donkey, Outnumbered, Trevor's World of Sport and Old Harry's Game; and Jay Tarses, an American writer who has written for the likes of Mary Tyler-Moore and Bob Newhart. He also created the sitcom The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd, a huge hit in the States in the 1980s.

Revolting People is set in the city of Baltimore during the 1770s, when Britain still ruled America. It focuses upon the life of Samuel Oliphant (Tarses), a shopkeeper who has several problems. One being that business is failing due to people constantly being killed. Another is that his house is being occupied by two British redcoats - Captain Walter Brimshaw (James Fleet) an officer who has little power is one, and Sergeant Roy McGurk (Hamilton), a one-armed, one-legged, one-eyed, one-nostriled cockney who will do anything for a bit of cash or sex is the other.

Yet a third problem for Samuel is his own family. His wife Elizabeth left him and became a lesbian, resulting in him having to raise his three children single-handedly. His eldest daughter Cora (Felicity Montague for series 1, and Penelope Nice for series 2 and 3) marries pro-British Ezekiel Spriggs (Hugh Dennis), the Under Secretary to the Assistant Deputy of Weights and Measures. Samuel hates Ezekiel because he keeps making confusing speeches and calls him 'Sam'. Cora is a strict Christian, resulting in her never consummating her marriage, but she does has a child by another man.

His younger daughter Mary (Sophie Thompson in series 1, Jan Ravens in series 2 and 3, and Julia Hills in series 4) is just as troublesome. She is a violent revolutionary and a secret pamphleteer under the pseudonym of 'Spartacus'. At every opportunity, she expresses her desire for freedom... well, except when Brimshaw is around. Despite the fact he is a British soldier, the two have an affair.

Samuel's other child is Joshua. He is not the brightest of people, which is something of an annoyance for Samuel in terms of what happens to the store when he dies. However, he is a giant of man, measuring well over seven feet tall and spending most of his time wrestling with bears and fighting with any man who touches Mary.

The first three series featured non-connected episodes with the third series focusing on parodying several films, for example the The Wizard of Oz. The fourth series however contained a central storyline, in which the cast travelled to Britain in order to talk to mad King George III in the hope of preventing a war between American and Britain. The plan fails when Mary accusess the King of fighting the war just so that can gain control of America's oil (as if that would ever happen in this day and age!).

The series is a rare success for a mix of British and American humour, with decent proportions of satire thrown in. It is almost revolutionary (see what we did there).