Laughter Lines: Alice Jones

Losing heart: Has Miranda Hart sold out with new exercise video?

 

Miranda is releasing a fitness DVD. I know. Bear with. Miranda Hart’s Maracattack will feature routines from Hart and fitness expert Amelia Watts – cardio sessions, core strength exercises etc. - set to a feelgood soundtrack of Kylie and Take That and interspersed with sketches starring Miranda’s mum, Stevie and Gary.

“Fitness should be fun”, said Hart(right). “It’s about playing, not ‘working out’ and play helps your body, but also frees your mind. The DVD involves maracas, classic pop tunes, and is as much fun as a riotous camp, cheesy disco.” It will be released by BBC Worldwide next month, in time to fill Christmas stockings across the land.

I have been struggling with this a bit, and not just because I don’t own any maracas (a merchandise opportunity here, BBC Worldwide). On the one hand, Hart is known and loved for her physical comedy so perhaps a fitness DVD makes sense. It might even be inspiring. If clumsy, pratfalling Miranda can follow a 5-minute, high-intensity cardio workout, anyone can.

On the other hand, it looks dangerously like a sell-out. And of all the sell-outs, a stand-up sell-out is the worst. There is nothing more disheartening than the sight of a favourite comedian taking a break from sticking it to the man to hawk cider, cheap hotels or car insurance. Or exercise DVDs. Or anything, really. Comedy and commerce are an unhappy mix.

Perhaps this is unfair. It is not easy being a fictional national treasure. Create a much-loved comedy character and you are fated to be remembered as him or her for all eternity - trapped in a purgatory of catchphrases, fancy dress tributes and Christmas specials. The people always want more. The traditional options are to keep doing what you’re doing until you are as old as Compo and co. or to burn  out gloriously in 12 episodes like Basil Fawlty.

Or, to diversify. Alan Partridge has managed it. Steve Coogan exhumed his best character first with a low-key web series, Mid Morning Matters, then with a couple of one-off Sky specials and finally a movie outing in Alpha Papa this summer. And now, a decade after the last episode of The Office aired, David Brent has returned. Like Partridge, he was first reborn online with a series of spoof guitar tutorials on YouTube. Offers to play Wembley apparently followed, and so this week Brent took to the Bloomsbury Theatre stage for his first work-in-progress gig, singing cringe classics such as “Slough”, “Free Love” and “Equality Street” to a delighted crowd. The sight of him walking onto the stage wearing an earring – “Fashion, innit?” – was enough to provoke waves of laughter. He didn’t do the robot dance. He didn’t need to. This was a new direction for a proven comedy hero and it worked.

Hart has also created a character so beloved that she could dictate the phone book and make a room howl. So it is to her credit that she is trying something new. Brent has taken up air guitar, Miranda has gone for maracas. Call it money-spinning, call it diversifying – as long as it’s funny, they can carry on.

New slant on TV panel show

Just when it seemed that every possible TV panel show had been commissioned, here comes a new one, from Fox. Its angle? It takes place at an angle. “Slide Show” will be presented by Steve Carell (above) and will pit teams of celebrities and comedians against one another in song, dance and sketch on a set that is tilted at a 22.5 degree angle. The show is based on the French format Vendredi, tout est permis which, from YouTube clips looks like a hyperactive Whose Line is it Anyway? Next up, Arm Wrestling with Chas and Dave and Monkey Tennis, possibly.

Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood

'Whether he left is almost immaterial'TV
Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May

film

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before