19th Nov2018

‘The Kenny Everett Video Show’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

kenny-everett-v-show-dvd

If, like me, you grew up in the UK in the 1980s you couldn’t NOT be a fan of Kenny Everett – his brand of humour was a staple of must-see television; everyone at my school would – for example – recite his sketches and jokes the day after they aired on TV. His catchphrases became the countries catchphrases… He was a comedy legend to an entire generation. Yet, for how much I loved Kenny Everett I never saw his first series for Thames TV – I grew up watching his BBC series that followed the four-series show known as The Kenny Everett Video Show.

Debuting on ITV in 1978, The Kenny Everett Video Show was a hedonistic mix of sketches, musical interludes and performances with Kenny’s characters including Sid Snot, Cupid Stunt and Captain Kremmen all featuring alongside huge music star guests and performances from David Bowie, Bonnie Tyler, The Boomtown Rats, The Police and many many more – from the well-known to the obscure (there’s a LOT of artists featured on the show I’ve never heard of). What’s also interesting is just how much the anarchic early years of Channel 4 seemed to have been modelled on this series too!

Speaking of musical acts… kudos to Network, who must have spent eons on merely clearing the music rights for this DVD release. And whilst there are some reported (and some obvious) ommissions in the musical talent, again down to rights issues, the fact that the majority of them are intact is a real testament to the hard work put into this DVD release.

It’s interesting to binge-watch the series and see just where The Kenny Everett Video Show, and Kenny Everett himself, started and where he/it ended up. The early episodes, despite the flashes of nudity and crude humour, seem remarkably tame compared to the later seasons. Though the laughs never flounder – even when he’s not being crude Everett knew how to get a laugh, no matter how cheap; and oftentimes the cheap laughs are the best! As the series progresses the musical acts get fewer and far-between whilst Everett’s sketches and comedy become the true focus of the series and his wierd and over-the-top humour shines – something that would mark out his BBC series throughout the 80s.

Years before MTV was accused of shortening attention spans, The Kenny Everett Video Show had an anarchic, ADHD-like format that felt like a stream-of-conciousness pouring forth from Everett himself – something that would be expanded on as the series progressed, with Everett and co. often going off-script and breaking the fourth wall. This was innovative stuff. Hell, the entire show was, surprisingly, some of the most technially advanced television of its day: mixing mediums and techniques to create something literally never seen before.

It’s hard to believe, in this day and age, that a TV show as anarchic and frankly risque as this aired at 7pm on British TV – yes, audiences were used to innuendo and risque jokes thanks to the likes of Monty Python and Benny Hill but The Kenny Everett Video Show pushed the boundaries even further: even featuring flash frames (now banned on TV if I’m not mistaken), nudity and Hot Gossip… the dance troupe fronted by Arlene Philips, yes THAT Arlene Philips from Strictly, who writhed around the screen to a variety of musical tracks. And you know what? it’s all the better for it.

In a time when people are offended by just about everything and political correctness is killing creativity, The Kenny Everett Video Show is remarkably out of place, yet it feels like it’s a show that we need right now, a show that sticks it to just about everything and everyone. Yet today no one would ever dare do something like this – not even on YouTube for fear of demonetisation or online for fear of being banned from the Google Adsense program… Yet this was on British TV at TEATIME!

A superb example of just how innovative and how progressive British television used to be before we became a nation of period dramas, soap operas and reality TV, The Kenny Everett Video Show is essential viewing for everyone. Just leave your politically-correct ideas at the door and enjoy the laugh-out-loud humour from a man who was as cutting-edge and avant garde on TV as he was on the radio.

The Kenny Everett Video Show is out now on DVD from Network Releasing. Order your copy on Amazon.

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