Television Review

FANS OF The Fast Show must have felt relieved when Ted and Ralph (BBC2) was over; relieved that their good names remained unperjured by the twin hazards of Christmas special and an extended sketch format. It was a blessing that they could now rest in peace.

Its comic premise was simple. Ralph, a simple-minded aristocrat, had to marry before his 35th birthday or face disinheritance. Failure to do so would also mean that Ted, his gardener and the subject of his powerful unrequited love, would be homeless. It opened with a nice visual gag. The credit for Paul Whitehouse, who plays Ted, superimposed over a deer followed by Charlie Higson's, who plays Ralph, overlaid on a stalking fox.

Essentially it was a loose patchwork stitched together, but the extended format allowed for some good jokes. Ted had a mobile phone, and a way with the "ladies". At a party he held court in a flat cap, surrounded by young women tittering at jokes about shovels.

Their Fast Show sketches had been brief encounters and I was concerned that Ted and Ralph would lack legs. The writing was as tight as one could hope for given the 70-minute duration, and the rhythm and timing of the punchlines as sweet as ever. In the kitchen helping his master prepare for a dinner date, Ted offered to drain the carrots. "There's one of those round things over there with the holes in it," Ralph told him. "I always used to think they were called calendars, but apparently they're called... sieves." There was a gentle stress on the first noun, and a marvellous comic pause before the second.

"No one's ever loved me before, Ted," Ralph reflected in the aftermath of his bride's departure. "I wouldn't really know about that, sir," his man mumbled after a truly pathetic interval.

Are You Watching Jimmy Hill? (Sat BBC2) profiled another of life's outsiders. While Des Lynam isn't quite insight incarnate, his observation that football has enough heroes and that Hill, a baker's son from Balham, fulfilled its need for a villain was roughly right. A more subtle analysis might have revealed the real essence of Hill: that he's an outsider, albeit one who was accepted.

A profile of Jimmy Hill is, almost by definition, a study in group mechanics, an analysis of its judgmental triumvirate; exclusion, tolerance and acceptance. Terry Venables told how he'd walked around the pitch with Hill as they made their way to the Match of the Day studio just before kick-off at a Merseyside derby. Spotting the distinctive pundit, the crowd took up a chant of "Jimmy Hill's a wanker!". Hill reportedly beamed at Venables and said: "There's fame for you. They love me here."

Whatever else football is, it is essentially democratic and Hill personifies the tension between subordinance and individuality. Difference is required yet despised. For every George Graham there's a David Ginola and, while Hill showed little flair on the pitch, off it he was football's first intellectual radical.

The scheduling of the programme was unfortunate - tea time on Boxing Day, when a supine nation could, at any time, have emerged from a post- prandial half-slumber to a bizarre collage of dream-like images from the 1970s. There was the footage of Eric Morecambe sharing a joke with Hill and Prince Philip - one which, by the wrinkled look of concentration on his face, HRH struggled to process. The line between reality and surreality would have been blurred further by an image of Hill sitting in the stand at a Chelsea game explaining match tactics to Raquel Welch and compounded by the image of Hill - actually quite a tall man, being an ex-inside forward - clinging to the back of a horse at Aintree as it bolted down the road. All these events actually happened. Across the country you could imagine people waking with the words: "I've just had the weirdest dream."

And, in a sense, this is how Hill has spent his busy life - having dreams which others regarded as odd; being bewitched by fantastical football imaginings. In the 1950s, as chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association, he won a fight to abolish the minimum wage, which then stood at pounds 20 a week. Years before Heysel and Hillsborough, as manager and chairman of Coventry City, he introduced the country's first all-seater stadium. Heck, he even argued for three points for a win to make the game more exciting.

The impression was of a very happy man. Vive la difference.

Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

Arts and Entertainment
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform