The Third Leader: Little Britain

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The Independent Online

Villages, I note, are about to be broadcast more than ever. We have the usual cereal serials and a relentless supply of body-strewn and laughter-laden locations in the fiction field; now BBC 2's Restoration programme will concentrate on village buildings, complemented by BBC 4 looking at what makes the perfect village.

Without wishing to steal anyone's thunder, thatch or cream tea, I thought I might attempt my own definition. First, no main road, as this means people might not only pass through, but stop and create a queue in the sub post office; and a silence when they walk in the pub, which doesn't serve draught lager and certainly has nothing written on a blackboard, considering two types of peanuts adventurous enough, thank you. And only live music, which was last night.

The general stores will serve no specific need, beyond surprising you with tinned potatoes or sealing wax. The churchyard has always just been mown, the pigs bathed, the dogs are hoarse, the tractors run on batteries, it's not your turn to run the tombola, and everybody knows your business. There are even some young people.

Any threat to this paradise has been taken care of. It is nowhere near Midsomer, Miss Marple has moved and the elderly males are not interested in runaway baths or big women. The chairman of the parish council is a personal friend of John Prescott. The vicar, the squire, the postmaster, the policeman and the schoolteacher, naturally, share a dreadful secret, but their nocturnal rituals every third Wednesday will not affect you, as you are, of course, only there at the weekend.

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