Friday, 12 April 2013

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Cecil Weissman (& Hazel Wimphreybottom) (9/3/09)

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Welcome to another episode of From The Archives. We're very much on the home straight on our journey through The Yesterday Show, and this week we have another two guests for your enjoyment.

There's a trend that I've observed in TV series that the penultimate episode is often the weakest - or at least, is the most out of character to the general mood of the show. This is by no means a universal trend, nor it is intentional: creators always strive to make every episode the best they can, and the order of episodes, particularly in a sitcom, are not always fixed. Nevertheless, this episode of The Yesterday Show is a little uncharacteristic, for good and bad. It also has an unintended poignancy, since it focusses to a great extent on Margaret Thatcher, who died this week.
http://blogs.independent.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/thatcher-4.jpg
I've said on several occasions that many of the characters on The Yesterday Show  were one-joke roles: they would not survive or go anywhere interesting outside of the confines of their little interview. But with all the other characters who fell under this bracket, I had a pretty good idea of how to play them within those confines. Cecil Weissman was improvised in more ways that one; we had a central conceit, of a government insider who actually knows nothing, but I couldn't work out what to do for the voice. In hindsight there's a little of Kenneth Williams in the character's intonation, though this was far more by accident than design. I performed the voice by pressing two fingers on different areas of my throat until it sounded nasal enough.
http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01202/Kenneth-Williams-4_1202838c.jpg
Hazel Wimphreybottom was another sort of improvisation. After about two minutes Tom and I felt we had reached Weissman's punchline, and were stuck about what to do with the remaining time. Not that long ago I had read Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch, having seen her many times on political panels on TV, and been made aware of her teaching record at Warwick. This resulted in a caricature of feminists that is equal parts lazy and funny, taking the cliché that Greer and Andrea Dworkin embodied to its ridiculous conclusion. I don't pretend to be any good at writing female characters, but I do think that as a character Hazel is funnier than Cecil, at least in the time that we allotted her.
http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-images/Books/Pix/authors/2007/09/13/greer460.jpg
Alex's section is a continuation of his ill-fated encounter last week in Monte Carlo. This is probably the tightest part of this episode, with a clearer sense of narrative than the main section and some pretty good lines about being a roving reporter. Originally the organ harvesting aspect was only briefly mentioned, but Alex's ad lib was funny enough to make the cut. Kudos again goes to Tom for his realistic production.

So without further ado, prepare for shocking stories of civil servants, washbasins and appearing in the nude, with the latest episode of The Yesterday Show:
Next week's episode is The Yesterday Show's grand finale. Don't miss it!

Daniel

P.S. For those with aspirations to write compelling female characters, check out JesuOtaku's review of Paradise Kiss here, which has some sound advice about what traps to avoid.

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