So why does British screen humour today seem closer to Splitting Heirs than Kind Hearts and Coronets? Maybe it's because our comedies no longer feel like movies. Clockwise and Peter's Friends, Eat the Rich and The Pope Must Die might be up on the big screen, but they're essentially inflated TV (the budgets almost demand it). That's partially because of the general familiarity of the performers, but there's also the question of the material - jokes, gags and bits of business have replaced wit and tone. Staggered isn't witty, it's sitcom: it has a sitcom star (the charming Martin Clunes) and a sitcom plot, borrowed or lifted from the recent Rik Mayall Presents, which, curiously enough, was more cinematic than this belated film counterpart.
In the multi-media age this cross-fertilisation is perhaps to be expected and, in some ways, welcomed. At least the new generation doesn't adapt its TV hits to celluloid aka Bless This House and On the Buses, which could be where the trouble started. It's probably safe to discount the rumours that Absolutely Fabulous will soon be an absolutely fabulous flick, darling. . .probably.
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