22 Dec 2010

Running Gags

There are a number of running jokes in the series.

    * Norman (the bread man) comments that "I'm agoraphobic — I fell off a diving board in Guernsey" in almost every episode — and when Norman fails to do so, one of the other characters usually manages to either say it for him, or refer to it in conversation.
    * Twinkle refers to Tony's witticisms with a sarcastic "Ha Ha…" followed by one of a number of quips ("Ha ha, I'm nearly laughing", "Ha ha, Hale and Pace", "Ha ha, straight to video" among others).
    * Stan invariably reacts to any provocation with "My dad was a Desert Rat", and names an everyday task that his father had been forced to perform in a highly improbable way using Army equipment (for example, "He made toast for 34 fighting men with a radiator grill and a flamethrower!")
    * Whenever Tony escapes to the fire escape for a cigarette, the girls respond to the draught from the open fire door with a chorus of "Shut the door!" He often responds to uncomfortable situations (such as Twinkle revealing that she may be pregnant, or Anita commenting that, after the birth of her baby, she "got away with just one little haemorrhoid") by smiling (with glazed eyes) and stating "I'm just having a fag!"
    * Petula frequently mentions some (usually far-fetched) event and asks if Bren remembers, before interjecting "Oh no, you weren't there". The only exception to this is when she comments that "I had a baby once, do you remember, Bren? Oh, yes, it was you!"
    * In most episodes Dolly will mention some (occasionally relevant) piece of trivia, always explaining that "it was in the Daily Mail". The article she mentions will usually be outlandish and blatantly untrue or inaccurate, e.g. wine gums being linked with teenage alcoholism.
    * Bren will occasionally try and think of a word, but confuse it with another related word, thereby making a malapropism: "It's a bit of a… um… not 'unicorn'… 'dilemma'!" or "What are those things like cucumbers… suffragettes!" as well as confusing the word "surrogate" with Harrogate.
    * Jean frequently makes mistakes while reading, because she refuses to wear her glasses, to comic effect — Jean: "£20 million cutlet centre to open. I didn't realise they were so popular." Bren (reading over Jean's shoulder): "Outlet centre!" Another such occasion was when she mistook a job advert for a 'lighthouse keeper' for a 'light housekeeper'.
    * Dolly's dislike for then-prime minister Tony Blair is mentioned in most episodes. She usually will hear about a situation that is biased towards younger people, and will then blame it on Tony Blair, e.g. "If you want to dump a heap of scrap metal outside the library and call it "aggression", you can get funding for that, no problem - but be a heterosexual white woman trying to turn left, you're not catered for!", or "Tony Blair! I bet he thinks that if we all take an old person, we can close the day centres and turn them in to Cappuccino Bars!". Another was "Tony Blair! Stick two poems up in a bus shelter and call it a University!" and "Tony Blair! It used to be the police ferrying criminals from place to place. Now it's anyone with three rear seatbelts and a driver's licence!".

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