The Love Box in Your Living Room review – spectacular nonsense from Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse | Television

DOn the recent revival of Friday Night Live, which aired to celebrate Channel 4’s 40th anniversary, Harry Enfield returned with some of his old characters, including Stavros. Enfield played the former kebab shop owner as the proud owner of a posh cafe in Hackney, the sort of place London borough’s newer population might prefer to go. His suggestions as to why made me scream. People who were simply expecting the return of a skit in which a man said “innit” and “peeps” at the end of his sentences would have found it had a little more bite than that.

In The Love Box in Your Living Room (BBC Two 2), Enfield and his former partner Paul Whitehouse turn to the BBC’s own birthday celebrations, putting 100 candles on the cake by means of a documentary parody of a hour. It’s similar to their 2015 series The Tale of Two, which marked BBC Two’s 50th anniversary, except here it’s parodied Adam Curtis rather than Simon Schama. There’s also a semi-parody of Mike Leigh’s 1976 film Nuts in May and several Eurovision song contests, makes the Beatles a singular prime minister (although after this year it might not be so strange ) and invents a Farrow & Ball color called Munge. It’s 60 minutes of rapid-fire nonsense, though, much like Stavros, there’s more to it than just making up silly words and a Captain Pugwash cartoon revamp starring Rod Stewart and Ted Heath.

The name of Adam Curtis sometimes appears in the background, to remind that it is a parody. Enfield and director Daniel Kleinman perfectly understood the relentlessness and deadpan sobriety. Radio waves are illustrated by archival footage of unrolling spaghetti and cotton balls. It is divided into chapters with lofty titles such as The Unforeseen Triumph of Talking Pictures Encased in Fine Walnut or The Public Relations Monkeys Suck at Your Heart. For anyone who hasn’t loved or endured Curtis’ movies, I can’t imagine how that could happen, but he uses his medium spectacularly, going all the way back to the workers and the UK’s reliable cycle of to be “a little shit”. every few decades or so.

There are a lot of mini-parodies tucked inside this one. Even Martin Parr’s identities are recreated. Many BBC classics are revisited and revised, from Only Fools and Horses to Strictly, from The Vicar of Dibley to Muffin the Mule, from Top of the Pops to Dad’s Army. The attention to detail on his Peaky Blinders haircuts is hilarious, as is Enfield’s take on the moody mystique of Cillian Murphy. There are deeper points made with deft touches and jokes that come up again and again: Enfield and Whitehouse claimed the whole show was “complete bullshit,” but inside the gags there are a lot of pointed theories. His section on the evolution of political interviewing, for example, is a clever analysis of the changing approach taken by interviewers, starting with “the Wanker Teacher” type, softening into a more flattering friendliness.

Much like Philomena Cunk’s parody stories, it’s about more than its main subject. It gallops through a history of Britain from the end of the First World War to the present day, through the Great Depression, the swing of the 60s, the yuppies, the Young British Artists and Blair’s Britain , which he poses as the start of a great BBC. bleaching. Sadly, it didn’t have time to catch up with the latest Downing Street drama, but it does end with BBC Death, via Nadine the Important and a chapter called A Pleasant Stroll in the Memorial Park of Your Mind.

Considering it’s a BBC show, made by comedians heavily employed by the BBC, and purports to celebrate the history, or at least a history, of the BBC, it has a healthy disdain for many parts of the BBC. It has a pop to its labyrinthine bureaucracy, its privately educated lords and its awkward history with the employment of women except Joan Bakewell. But he scatters his mockery with equal measure: New Labor gets as much dough as ‘Porridge Johnson’, while Pride & Prejudice is used as a starting point to ridicule ITV’s Downton Abbey. But as much as he confuses his host (“The BBC didn’t know anyone from the working class, because it was like a giant public school”), it’s also a love letter to her. It may be barbed wire, written after several decades of marriage, tired of the routine familiarity of it all, but nothing hides her affection and love. Like I said, though, if you’ve never seen an Adam Curtis series before, then good luck with this weird beast.