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

Matt Lucas of Little Britain x395 (HBo) | Advocate.com

After abandoning
the idea of featuring only American characters for the
show, Walliams and Lucas decided to mix old favorites with
some new creations. So don't be surprised to see
Daffyd thinking he’s "the only gay" at his new
U.S. university or Marjorie bringing her vitriol to
American fat fighters. (One episode features Rosie O'Donnell
as the new Fat Fighters celebrity spokesperson,
prompting Marjorie to ask, "Are you fat because you're
a lesbian, or are you a lesbian because you're fat?")

"If you try to do
something thinking, 'This will appeal to British
people, this will appeal to American people,' you become
stuck," notes Walliams. "But if you just try to follow
your instincts and do what's funny, hopefully it'll
work."

The process of
creating American characters involved having Walliams and
Lucas travel around the United States and not just spending
time on the coasts.

"[L]ike a lot of
Brits, I'd pretty much been to San Francisco, Los
Angeles, Las Vegas, New York, Miami, the usual holiday
destinations," Lucas says. "And what HBO were able to
do was to take us places we hadn't been to before,
like Missouri -- Branson, in particular, which is
almost like a Christian Vegas, where Andy Williams has
residency... And we went to a sort of theme park
without many rides, called Silver Dollar City, and
there was a gospel picnic there, it was very different from
anything we'd ever experienced. We also went to a kind of
county fair in Chicago, and that was really
interesting, and probably more provincial than what
most British people are expecting. Then we went to the White
House as well. And North Carolina was very different
-- we were actually staying down by the coast,
but it was very sort of, 'Well, we're in the South
now, aren't we?'"

"I mean, we are
British," notes Walliams. "We can only guess at a lot
of these things, but we definitely had ideas along the way.
We went to a shooting range and met a sheriff and then
wrote a sketch about it. In the series, we've
introduced some new American characters, but we've
kept a lot of British characters too, because we couldn't
take on American culture in the way that we did with
Little Britain in England because we just don't
know enough about it. It would be dishonest."

Tags: television

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