Wiping the smiles off their faces

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The Independent Culture
The intention behind biographical studies of comedians seems to be to prove that they're actually miserable gits like the rest of us. Whether this is the product of some fear of envy or a conspiracy to prove the theory that all great comedy is steeped in tragedy is hard to tell, but if I had a quid for every time I've heard a comedian say that they'd learnt to be funny to overcome bullying at school, I'd probably have enough for a packet of cigarettes by now.

Dudley Moore's Obituary Show (9.30pm C4) fits this pattern rather elliptically. Peter Cook was more of a miserable git, so everyone can cherish the idea that he was The Funny One, while Dud's wealth and success come from selling out. A typical Cook quotation runs: "Anyone who comes from Dagenham, has a club foot and is a small berk, will probably always have a bit of a chip..." while a Moore quotation is more likely to be: "Music doesn't get me out of bad moods, but it sets up this wonderful structure of sweetness, niceness and joy.'' Oh dear. Too nice to be funny.

And where obituary tends generally towards the hagiographical, this one juxtaposes clips from Arthur with those Tesco ads. This is a bit like following a clip from Laurence Olivier's Hamlet with one from Clash of the Titans. You can't help but feel that Dudley's been diddled. Still, someone who's suffered the indignity of being called "Cuddly Dudley" can probably hack that.