ABOUT THE EPISODE
Star of ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ Greg Proops is our guest this week and shares delightful anecdotes about life on the road with legends like Robin Williams and Joan Rivers. But will either of those icons win his, or the public’s, vote in ‘Who’s the Best Comedian?’ With so many great contenders in the mix, will it be an American star such as Jerry Seinfeld, Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor or Chris Rock who takes the crown? Or perhaps a funny Brit like Eddie Izzard or Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais. Rising star comedian Emilie Hagen joins Greg and host Sandro Monetti to debate the comedic candidates. Differences in humour on both sides of the Atlantic are also discussed, along with the changing nature of comedy in these more politically correct times. Plus there’s exclusive news about some classic comedies being remade.
FUNNY NEVER GOES OUT OF FASHION: CLASSIC COMEDIES SET FOR REMAKES
by Sandro Monetti, host, Who’s the Best Podcast
Butterflies, The Liver Birds and Bread are among the best British sitcoms of all time – and now, thanks to the granddaughter of Carla Lane, writer of those 70’s and 80’s BBC classics, they are all set to be remade for international audiences. And, as Irena McGoun reveals on this episode of the podcast, plans are at “an advanced stage” to bring back her gran’s finest works.
Irena has met with writers and producers on both sides of the Atlantic to gather a team to develop modern versions of those great shows, and some unproduced material too. She said, “Of course, time has moved on and our cultures, both British and American, have changed – but how women feel has not. That is what her female parts capture. She told the truth about what motivates men and women, and the appeal of such writing remains for a modern audience.”
This is a good point, because although it’s been several decades since they were made, the situations in Carla’s comedies are still relatable today. Bread is about a family struggling to make ends meet in a slumping economy, Butterflies is the story of a woman bored by her marriage and craving excitement, and The Liver Birds tells of two female flatmates looking for love.
One consequence of these shows being dusted off and relaunched will hopefully be some long overdue greater respect for their creator. Carla Lane was a trailblazer for women writers in comedy at a time when the field was an almost exclusively male preserve. “In the time that she was writing, there were no significant women script writers and certainly none writing comedy that focused on female parts,” Irena explained.
“The fact that she became a household name is remarkable. People know actors, but very rarely know the writer, especially in the 70s/80s. She was not just an entertainer; she made a difference in this world. Though she came from nowhere, there was nothing in her background that gave her a foothold in the entertainment world. Just through her talent and endeavour she became the most successful female script writer in her time.”
Perhaps the most significant legacy left by Lane, who died in 2016 aged 87, was to finally give women a realistic voice in comedy as well as a hugely funny one. Butterflies star Wendy Craig said: “Her greatest gift was that she understood women and wrote the truth about them. She spoke about what others didn’t.”
Another gift was Carla’s ability to connect with large audiences. Bread, for example, about a working-class family from her home city of Liverpool, was Britain’s most watched comedy of the 1980s. Lane, who was a nurse and journalist before switching to scriptwriting, dubbed her shows “situation tragedies” as there was always some sadness underpinning the comedy.
What wonderful work she has left behind. If we ever do an episode on Who’s the Best Sitcom Writer, Carla Lane will certainly be a leading contender. Now let’s hope Irena is successful in bringing much of her gran’s work back to the screen – because funny never goes out of fashion.