No Holds Bard.

No Holds Bard

BBC Four comedy drama. 1 episode in 2009. Stars Ashley Jensen, Denis Lawson and Bill Paterson.

Press Clippings

No Holds Bard, a spoof documentary about a Burns recitation competition, had its work cut out to take away the taste of that title, but managed it in the end, being full of good glancing jokes. Denis Lawson plays Miekel McMiekel, president of the Dumfries Burns Society and a man determined to hold on to the cup for the seventh year running, despite the fact that their star performer Struan is in the middle of a messy break-up from his wife and can barely get through a single line of "Ae Fond Kiss" without bursting into tears. The competition was provided by Hayley, a young girl tormented by her pushy mother (Ashley Jensen), Paula, an English incomer stubbornly blind to the violent anti-English feeling of her neighbours, and Stevie, a prisoner from a local jail who has been encouraged to enter by his naively trusting literacy teacher.

It got a bit farcically over-excited towards the end - as if the plot actually mattered - but you could forgive it a lot for the invention of the Timorous Beastie Boys, three spotty adolescents who rapped their way through a "street" version of "Robert Bruce's March to Bannockburn".

Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent, 9th September 2009

This is another chance to see the mockumentary made for the 250th birthday of Rabbie Burns about a village having an annual recital competition. Say what you like about the Scots, and really, you should, they do have some talented actors. The material is patchy (we don't mean Burns's poetry) - but the likes of Ashley Jensen, Denis Lawson - and best of all Bill Paterson - are so entertaining that it really doesn't matter.

TV Bite, 8th September 2009

As much a celebration of Scotland's acting talent as it is of Robbie Burns, this mockumentary was first shown on BBC Scotland in January, on the 250th anniversary of the bard's birth. The gags are as recognisable as the poetry, yet there's plenty of fun to be had. Set in Burns's hometown, Alloway, it follows the ragbag of entrants for the annual recital competition. Familiar faces include Ashley Jensen, pushy mum of wide-eyed Hayley; Denis Lawson as the despotic head of the Burns Society, with Paul Higgins his lovesick hopeful; and a gleeful cameo from Bill Paterson as a touchy-feely tartan seller.

Claire Webb, Radio Times, 8th September 2009