Little Britain Hops the Pond

Matt Lucas and David Walliams bring their smash U.K. comedy show to the United States, mixing new characters with beloved old favorites. Is America ready for “the only gay in the village”?

BY Alonso Duralde

September 15 2008 11:00 PM ET

"Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which is
in a way a very avant-garde piece of work, became an
American success, and now you’ve got
Spamalot in Vegas," observes British comedian
David Walliams. "You can't ever really guess
what’s going to take off and what isn't."

Walliams has his
fingers crossed that Little Britain, the UK
sketch-comedy smash created by and starring Walliams
and Matt Lucas, can find a similar foothold stateside. After
three seasons that topped the ratings in England --
and garnered a cult audience among Yanks who caught
the show on DVD or on BBC America -- the show will
make it across the Atlantic as Little Britain USA, debuting
September 28 on HBO.

Little Britain USA is designed for longtime
fans and newcomers alike. "We wanted to design the show so
that an American audience who had never seen the show
would get it, because we guess that that will be 90%
of our viewers," Walliams says.

If you're one of
those newcomers, Little Britain features Lucas
and Walliams portraying a wide array of characters,
like mouthy delinquent Vicky Pollard (Lucas), who tries
talking her way out of every situation with a nearly
incomprehensible torrent of complaints and schoolyard
gossip. Emily Howard (Walliams), is the world's least
convincing transvestite, who constantly insists that
she's "a lady" who enjoys "lady's things." Daffyd
(Lucas), is a chunky, latex-loving poof who insists
that he's "the only gay in the village," despite
constant evidence to the contrary. Marjorie Dawes
(Lucas), poorly moderates weekly "Fat Fighters" diet
meetings -- think Weight Watchers gone horribly wrong.
Carol (Walliams) is a sneering receptionist who can
wave off any request with a deadpan "Computer says
no."

Both Walliams and
Lucas seem surprised that these rather specifically
British characters have been embraced by the show’s
American fans. "To be honest with you," admits Lucas,
"it wasn’t actually until we arrived to make
the show that we had any sense that we had any
audience at all in the States." Walliams adds, "People
around the world have responded to [Vicky], but she's
meant to be a teenage girl from Bristol, which is a
city in the west of England. But comedy may be more
universal than we might think."

Tags: television

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