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

David Walliams and Matt Lucas of Little Britain 03 (HBO) | Advocate.com

Based on the
taping I attended, the new characters fit in seamlessly.
USA gives us Walliams as Bing Gordon, the eighth
man to walk on the moon. Walliams portrays Phyllis, who is
unable to resist the evil suggestions of her
adorable-seeming King Charles spaniel. Then
there's each of them in full-body latex as Mark and
Tom, two massively muscled gym rats. About the latter
characters, Walliams reveals, "They’re two guys
who hang out in a gym changing room. You know when you
go into a gym, and there’s always two guys
talking really loudly about all the girls they've banged,
that kind of thing? And the've huge muscles but tiny
penises, and they're very proud of their man-meat,
they think they're extraordinarily well-endowed."

While both actors
do a great deal of cross-dressing -- this is British
comedy, after all -- it’s Lucas who is openly gay
while Walliams is straight. Nonetheless, Walliams
admits that his well-known adoration of the Pet Shop
Boys -- both of the Little Britain stars
appeared in the band's "I'm with Stupid" video -- is
just the top of "the list of all my gay characteristics. I
mean, Matt's the gay one but I've got all sorts of gay
tastes, while he likes soccer. And I'm into Liza
Minnelli and the Pet Shop Boys. I've got
extremely good taste, I think.”

Lucas, for his
part, got attention from the British tabloids when he
entered into a civil union with his longtime partner and
television producer Kevin McGee, in late 2006 -- and
then lots more coverage when the two separated earlier
this year. "I suppose it’s refreshing that the
press are indiscriminate in their coverage of gay and
straight celebrities alike," he notes with a tiny drop
of sarcasm. "But sure enough, I recently became single
and have been snapped -- the last two people I've been
snapped with are straight friends of mine, which is
kind of bizarre for them, neither of whom is in the public
eye and one of whom is married with kids. Fortunately,
they both see the funny side."

Lucas and
Walliams have brought in some big names to play with them in
their new incarnation. In addition to O’Donnell,
USA will feature guest appearances by Sting (who
gets a snog from Emily Howard) and Robert Vaughn (who will
meet Bubbles deVere, a grotesquely and frequently nude
socialite played by Lucas). They also had
Friends star David Schwimmer behind the camera,
directing all the sequences that were performed before
a live audience.

Whatever happens
with Little Britain USA, it’s already
gotten a thumbs-up from one skeptic. "I don't feel like
we've compromised in any way, and I'm kind of my worst
critic," admits Lucas. "I watch the show through the
gaps between my fingers. At the same time, I think the
show has achieved what we wanted it to achieve, so in
that regard, I think Americans will be able to get
it."

Tags: television

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