The Life And Times Of Vivienne Vyle. Vivienne Vyle (Jennifer Saunders). Copyright: BBC.

The Life And Times Of Vivienne Vyle

BBC Two sitcom about a talk show host. 6 episodes (1 series) in 2007. Stars Jennifer Saunders, Miranda Richardson, Jason Watkins, Conleth Hill and others.

Vivienne Vyle

The Life And Times Of Vivienne Vyle. Vivienne Vyle (Jennifer Saunders). Copyright: BBC.

Daytime talk-show host Vivienne Vyle is a straight-talking protagonist.

Flattened by a blundering security guard on set following a punch from a guest, Vivienne is hospitalised and begins to question her future as a TV host - until her manic producer, Helena, reveals that, following recent dramas, ratings have doubled. Cue an ever-more determined Vivienne who embarks on a quest to book the guests with the most tragic stories to tell - it isn't long before she is challenging and beating popular rival talk-show host Chris Connor.

Vivienne tries to connect with her fans however her obvious dislike of 'commoners' and her inability to empathise makes it somewhat of an impossible task for her.

Helena de Wend

The Life And Times Of Vivienne Vyle. Helena de Wend (Miranda Richardson). Copyright: BBC.

Helena is The Vivienne Vyle Show's hyperactive, stressed producer. She is one of the only people who is able to tell Vivienne the truth.

Helena is endlessly creative in trying to get more outlandish behaviour from the guests on the talk show in the hope that the additional melodrama will boost viewing figures still further.

Her personal life is a complete mess - she has a young child who doesn't speak a word of English because the Spanish nanny spends more time at home than Helena does. During the series Helena sleeps with both Jonathan and Des.

Dr Jonathan Fowler

Played by: Jason Watkins
The Life And Times Of Vivienne Vyle. Dr Jonathan Fowler (Jason Watkins). Copyright: BBC.

Psychotherapist Dr Jonathan Fowler is a new recruit to the behind-the-scenes crew. He has been brought in to help the show cope with the influx of troubled visitors. He's mainly there to make the show look responsible and fulfil its insurance obligations - Vivienne and Helena clearly don't actually care about the mental welfare of their guests.

Jonathan makes it clear he is quite uncomfortable about some of the fragile people the show is putting in front of camera however, in the pursuit of ratings, his protests are ignored. He is not the most assertive of men.

Fowler clearly cares about the guests - often spending extra time at the studios trying to help resolve the guests' problems. Unfortunately the production office is not the best place to practice psychotherapy - his sessions are often interrupted by Helena.

As the series progresses though Dr Fowler starts to become less interested in helping the guests and more interested in how he appears on screen - he seems to have woken up to the idea he could get his own talk-show.

Jared

Played by: Conleth Hill
The Life And Times Of Vivienne Vyle. Jared (Conleth Hill). Copyright: BBC.

Jared is Vivienne's supportive partner. He's quite camp and clearly has expensive tastes in life - for example he'll only drink the finest wine and wear tailored clothes.

The effete Jared is very much a 'yes' man, he agrees with everything Vivienne says and caters for his wife's every demand.

There are hints that Jared may be homosexual and his marriage to Vivienne is not a sexual one. This is confirmed when Vivienne's PR Miriam refers to a 'homosexual past' and Jared is caught attended a dubious party at which a rent boy dies.

Jared likes karaoke and often can be seen impressively miming along in perfect synchronisation with the music.

Carol

Played by: Helen Griffin
The Life And Times Of Vivienne Vyle. Carol (Helen Griffin). Copyright: BBC.

Carol is the sensible, cool, calm and collected Welsh floor manager.

It is Carol's job to get the audience interested in the show and ensure Vivienne looks in complete control when in front of the camera - quite a task considering some of the last-minute demands the star makes and un-scripted changes in direction.

Des

Played by: Dave Lamb
The Life And Times Of Vivienne Vyle. Des (Dave Lamb). Copyright: BBC.

Des is the director of the show. He's clearly frustrated and doesn't really want to be working on this type of show, however he is staying put because it is at least paying the bills.

Certain members of the production team clearly visibly annoy Des - Helena's manic energy and tendency to try and take over the direction of the show is one irritant, and Dr Fowler's inability to grasp the technicalities of TV have got him on Des' hate list.

Despite hating those around him, Des never says anything to them - he quietly gets on with his job as he doesn't want any trouble.

Damien

Played by: Lawry Lewin

Damien is the young researcher on the show. His job is to help find the best guests to put in front of the camera.

His duties extend far beyond that remit though - he can often be found helping to drum up some tension in the wings so that when the guests go on they will make good dramatic TV. Damien successfully got one guest so wound up that, when he was called on, he hit Vivienne.

Chris Connor

Played by: Brian Conley

Chris Connor is a rival chat-show host. He has a seamless interaction with the audience that Vivienne can't quite manage to reproduce.

Chris can be seen hugging his guests, telling funny jokes, prating about on the set and consoling those who break into tears. He also regularly goes into his audience to ask for their opinions - however when Vivienne tries the same thing on her show it ends in a silent disaster.

Chris won the TV Pick Award for best chat show host so many years in a row that people started to call them his awards - however things seem to be changing, this year, for the first time, Vivienne took the title.