A Weekend In Rutland or Generate an income Survived 24 Hours In Tunbridge Wells
Born from a momentary lapse of mild reason or enthusiasm for Monty Python, Rutland Weekend Television was conceived, carried and strenuously given birth to by the most convincing of the MP team, Eric Idle.
The ex president of Footlights at Cambridge came to us as being the most forward thinking comedy writers of the 20th Century, leading the way already paved by performers like Peter Sellers and Kenneth Williams. Idle has been a solo writer from his days at Python so working away at an idea created from the depths of his personal brain was not a hard concept to perform. From originally thinking about an project based on a spoof radio station (strangely, Radio Five, would be to be the title,) Idle was believing that the general idea of a 'spoof something' would be to be a winning show. Yet, after 24 months of two series the other Christmas special, the 'studio' of Rutland Weekend television closed it's doors and hung up the 'To Let' sign outside.
Back mothers and fathers of proper script writers sweating on a continues theme behind even sweatier desks, the BBC maintained throughout the land as being not just the high almighty of the broadcasting universe but also the stingiest so and so's for paying decent wages to exhausted performers and sleep deprived writers. A story was busting out from the mind and chest of the young Idle - a creation for starters of the greatest comedy serial killer serials ever to get ignored by both Beeb and audience - it could only be the sounds and smells that graced our screens inside fuzzy form of - Rutland Weekend Television.
So what could the man in the street with microphone in hand, have to say to an easy moving cameraman about the show? We revelled (well ,, some of us did) in the spoofier than spoof take off 'documentary' 'The Rutles', which originate from the placenta of Rutland Weekend Television. (Individuals smarter than the average bear may notice a minute connection with your message, 'rut.') The idea, brain stormed by our blond hero originate from the very essence that kept and still does, the BBC tied down to leather arm chair - money. Auntie had offered a very poor budget for Idle's project, since their funds was, they insisted, far the rest of an investment in one more series of Monty Python, than an over cuff comedy sketch show. Young Eric wasn't having any of this and turned the action around. By showing to the outside world what life was like inside the box, he decided to centre the whole show around the low budget that the Beeb had offered him. RWT became a hit, if only towards team behind it in the beginning. The concept of the show concerned producing a broadcasting company within a strict budget. Due to the 'mess up' of the government by moving the borders around of the once, smallest county in Britain in the Seventies, 'a producer' namely, Sir Nat Kosher, with the Beeb thought it would be an exceptionally good trick if he could make a company in a county that in some way didn't exist. The tax man couldn't touch him and neither could a long distinct money grabbing authorities. Thus - Rutland, was put back into the spotlight, with cunning dignity....apparently...
The reveal that was probably the fore runner of which meaningful sides of broadcasting as 'KYTV,' the tv spin off of the Radio hit, 'Radio Active,' with Angus Deayton, years after RWT, should have been, an accurate to the bone, cult show on tv, but it wasn't. Due towards over powering force that had been better known as Monty Python, RWT didn't actually stand the opportunity. However, just as the yanks be a part of knotted hankie conventions as soon as possible (of which George Bush could be the president (!)) there is still a tiny corner of British society that sustain their 'Ticket To Rut,' Rutle singles with pride and continue to flop over lines and trip over feet whilst pretending to hold a mic and discuss with an invisible cameraman.
Fever hit various houses of eager viewers between 1975 and 1976 and Rutland fever grew in a mild cold. Mr Neil 'Bonzo Dog,' Innes and great acquaintance of Idle provided the silliness of the songs whilst Idle became writer, actor and tea boy to any or all involved. From Innes's website today, he recalls and still does receive the odd email each and every year, from people who actually thought the show originate from a production company in Rutland. When it had become pointed, very kindly in the market to them that Rutland wasn't adequate enough and they should mind their unique business, their enthusiasm to the show didn't often budge.
What the public did not also realised is always that what they saw to become pathetic budget to be a visual gag, was actually the very budget that Idle brilliant chums had been given to waste on RWT. Innes's and his happy gang of erm, musicians who knew something soon had the remainder of showbiz tuning in for the thirty minutes slots each week.
George Harrison quite suddenly leapt in the chance of appearing on the show's Christmas special to be a unusual pirate character presumably as he went back miles with Innes and the other Beatles. (Appeared to be a friend that is, but not as a pirate.) Minor, low key guests followed, probably dreaming about quirkiness on their C.V, however it all made for great filming plus an enjoyable show, to the team, even if the BBC thought it was to be a waste of time, with out one out there was actually watching it, but hey, that's showbiz....
The full outline of each episode was dropped at us in true London Weekend Television style (this weekly feature in your viewing was making quite a positive change at the time, anyway) an announcer, usually the same shape as Idle in a badly fitting toupee, would appear, fumble over some words, ruffle a handful of papers and notably disappear his chair. (Quite a bit less dull sounding as that, but genius comedy all the same. It's Eric Idle, did you expect anything less?) The show was faultless, sketches were on cue and the act of such a beginner set up of chaotic broadcasting was polished, perfected in addition to the highest low budget quality that made this show the best thing since Python. (And the others were jealous - Idle...)
It doesn't take long before we can instantly start recalling many of the great shows that have graced our screens since RWT which have worked successfully on the same cheap broadcasting theme. Victoria Wood's 'As Seen On the telly,' first came on air in 1985, revelling secretly inside delight of the 'can't fail' ethics of the sudo budget broadcast. It was here that she gave us the gem add up to RWT's The Rutles, titled, 'Acorn Antiques.' Proving this theme can work in the strongest of winds. The first, although, not covered before, didn't forget to impress Idle's family and Innes's closest of friends.
Sadly, no original BBC tapes survive today (one can suppose the Beeb once having a spring clean up of what was so great about Seventies shows, such as entire collection of 'Please Sir' and 'Terry And June',) There can be a site, where one can reminisce with pure affection in the scripts of each classic episode with the land of Rut. (Where it's in amongst my Rutlemania, I have never a clue,) if you don't wish to go that far, and it could only be closer to you that Rutland, itself, you could swoon happily over Neil Innes' site that produces one proud to get on the net - site address towards the bottom of this review.
We can, however, take stock (where from?) products has been before us, well ,, to some of us. Whilst still in nappies (the terry kind) right at that moment, (of course, not now,) we could reflect on this great reveal that everyone, including Greg Dyke forgot. It is easy to analysis a really programme and delve deep on the psyche of Idle and chums and continue to find a meaning beneath it all. Was it an introverted reflection on the lack of diversity around the theories of modern communication? Perhaps it had become an intuitive science of your adaptation of what the British Broadcasting Company turned out to be controlling to the essence of an great comedy writer and performance? Personally, I think it became a neatly produced stab in the Beeb who refused to publish out a fatter cheque to somebody who now, should be knighted, not merely for co creating Monty Python but releasing RWT to a unsuspecting Britain.
The making of which a 'messy' show was hardly thrown together, although, it had become its amateur like production that had been the biggest gag. Idle spoke of shifting scenery top to bottom four floors for each and every sketch to keep to budget along with time since Idle's budget was of presentation level but not even enough for any comedy show. Each three minute part of comic surrealism was worked upon for ten hours a day and then on each take, designed to look as if an entire show took only an hour to record. It was this, on a serious note, where Idle flourished and returned to the outside world with material that had been tighter, funnier plus more professionally produced.
It is sad to locate that the only part of RWT left to this day could be the film Innes and Idle produced of 'The Rutles.' A published book of Idle's entitled, 'The Rutland Dirty Weekend Book,' (Idle 1976) was really the only piece that was comprised of any material related the show, however the album, 'Rutland Weekend Songbook,' is usually apparently still existing, somewhere.
The giant over grown baby, 'The Rutles,' which bring about on it's own path to stardom paradoxing The Beatles, spawned the sunday paper of the film and the soundtrack LP, but besides this, there is still too little left of one of the better, yet forgotten programmes in our historical British T.V. Who can forget such characters as being the one that Innes was famous for in RWT whose name was Stoop Solo (consider it) and David Battley who also appeared in The Rutles as the character who most likely to be George Harrison?
Whilst gathering up the 1st notion for a feature length film about 'The Rutles', Idle stepped in the pond and guest hosted a recording of Saturday Night Live, where, facing a gullible American, partially awake audience, he convinced them the fact that real Beatles were planning to reform, showing everyone else a few well rehearsed clips of The Rutles, he magnificently convinced the dumb audience the Beatles really were 'coming back again.' The reaction with the crowd was not even close what Idle has been expecting. Literally on this excitement with the show, a full length film 'The Rutles', was created. In March 1978, this movie created almost equal mania inside U.S and also the U.K, with the initial Beatle revolution - and the only evidence of Rutland Weekend Television that still exists and we still treasure today, (well, some of us do...) Gary Weis from Saturday Night Live was interested to buy the film. The budget was upped somewhat and hubby was invited to co direct it. The biggest names in music and comedy queued around the neighborhood to get a few seconds on the same celluloid as 'The Rutles'. Mick Jagger, Roy Wood, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Paul Simon, to mention only a handful of names, that got their minute of Rutle time. The first spoof ever of it's kind to get produced, long before the days of 'Bad News' and 'Spinal Tap'.
Despite the growing audience right at the end of it's reign, another series wasn't inside making. Innes went on to cultivate ever further on the world of silly song writing and floated in a preVH-1 style of hosting on a musical scale in 'The Innes Book Of Records,' between 1979 and 1981. A pleasurable comedy reveal that featured more humour that musical talent. A certain new-ish comic appeared during this childlike show - Rowan Atkinson.
So, there went one more comic masterpiece with the doors of the BBC, alone in the snow, homeless and shortly to be forgotten, making means for another series of sketches and musically whimsical interludes. Perhaps probably the most fitting of swansongs for Rutland Weekend Television was the main one record that Innes wrote and performed for as one of The Rutles; dear BBC, 'All You will need Is Cash.'..... One and only thing the Beeb didn't have provide power to...
Mr Idle wrote it and the lyrics behind the immense 'Spamalot' which matches to Las Vegas in March this season.
The original Broadway cast featured David Hyde Pierce more well known as Niles in Channel Four's 'Frasier.'
The author's father appeared for an extra on RWT on a handful of occasions.
The underpaid RWT cast were;
Written by Eric Idle and Neil Innes 1975 - 1976. First shown on BBC2 Monday (S1) and Friday (S2)
©Michelle Duffy 2006 (sam1942 2006 Ciao and dooyoo.)
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