Posts Tagged ‘Come Fly With Me’

Being critical of reality television in general,  I’ve spent little of my precious viewing time watching what the British have produced in that genre.  Okay, I’ll admit I couldn’t turn away from that fascinating ball of contradiction known as My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, but can you really blame me?

A Irish Traveller girl’s dream come true.

…And I felt it necessary to watch one episode of The Only Way is Essex if only to learn more about cutting edge beauty trends.

For anyone not familiar with this program, it reminds me of the endless hook-ups and artificially generated drama of The Hills (my daughter used to watch it, all right).  The fake tans and male obsession to be ridiculously muscular smacks of that groundbreaking American series, The Jersey Shore.  While I couldn’t ignore the barrage of  media attention,  I can proudly say I’ve never seen a single episode of TJS.

My main complaints about such programs are the self-involved, superficial reality “stars”, their petty little theatrics and the heavy- handed editing that manufactures arguments and other uncomfortable moments.  Therefore, you might find it a contradictory fact that I quite enjoy mockumentaries, that clever form of satire which “mocks” the documentary/reality hybrid. As a rule these series are full of immature and/or incompetent adults engaged in painfully awkward situations.  But through a sense of collusion with the “film crew/documentarian”,  the viewer feels more inclined to root for the characters, no matter how flawed they might be.  And as real as it might seem, you know the characters are just that – exaggerated characterizations of dysfunctional people.

I believe what makes the British so good at this type of comedy is a tendency towards subtle, dry humor and the ability to affect a believable and authoritative tone – in many cases, it’s the accent I’m sure.


For my money, the quintessential example of this genre is The Office with David Brent as the outwardly confident but professionally inadequate and socially deficient boss.  Apparently many people who watched The Office when it first went out on television believed they were watching a real BBC documentary.  But I’ve talked about this classic plenty of times so let me introduce you to some lesser known mockumentaries.

People Like Us:  Hosted by fictional, bumbling  tv journalist Ray Mallard, this series pokes fun at the mundane lives of everyday people and how they try to  inflate the importance of  their lives to the rest of the world.


Come Fly With Me:  Simulating the style and format of British reality series Airport, David Walliams and Matt Lucas portray dozens of airport employees and customers, from pilots to baggage handlers.  In my opinion, it’s not on par with  Little Britain, but I still marvel at the actors’ ability to transform so completely that they almost disappear. My husband thought that Precious, the work shy coffee kiosk attendant was an actress who had been hired for just that role.

Matt Lucas in a very unusual role as “Matt Lucas”

Matt Lucas as Precious









Twenty Twelve – Just in time for the London Olympics, this show examines, in a humorous and sadly accurate way, how inefficient committees are. Everything that can does go wrong and the tongue in cheek narration only underscores the incompetence of public servants in dealing with such a monumental project.  Series 2 is now on YouTube which I haven’t gotten around to seeing yet, but if it’s full of creative bombs like this one, I can’t wait.

What do you prefer, reality or the parody of reality?

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Welcome to the first in a three part series about the state of transportation in the UK.  I decided to start with air travel since it comes first in the not-so-very-clever title I chose to use for this collection of posts.

In my experience, flying in to Heathrow was smooth and pleasant.  Leaving, not so much.  What had changed?  The US had bombed Libya in the meantime and security precautions had been bumped up – barbed wire and tanks surrounding the airport, a delayed take-off because luggage had been checked onto the flight without the corresponding passengers on board (they’d gotten lost).  Needless to say, the sweating man a few rows back making frequent visits to the restroom only added to my unease.  Of course all this was pre-9/11, but during my time in London, I had gotten a taste of what was to come for us in the next decade or so.

I have not had the opportunity to return to England since my initial trip back in 1986 so I don’t really know what security, customs or flight personnel are like these days.  Therefore, I turn to British television for information on air travel in the present day United Kingdom.

First, check-in procedures at a budget airline:

Then, the actual flight experience on a regional carrier:

The age old problem of annoying in-flight neighbors:

And finally, dealing with “dedicated” immigration officers:

Whatever the hassle, I’m ready to travel across the pond again anytime.

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