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OTT (Over the Top) episode 8

It's a funny thing, culture. It's the thing which makes other people's worlds impenetrable to other people and even sometimes to the residents of the culture, because it's usually unconscious. For example the Indian head wobble - unless an Indian is aware of how other people see it, they won't be aware of it. My favourite example is that in Chinese culture it is apparently rude to ask someone not to do something, because it makes them lose face (this is of course a European's perception). What you do instead is vigorously compliment them on the opposite. At this point any white person reading this is feeling exhausted by that idea.

Another, more relevant, example is how outsiders see the British. We have a reputation in various places for being both reserved and polite, and also for being drunk hooligans. Strange that. But we did create the Carry On films and the Cobfessions films so we're not just about Downton Abbey.

In this divide there was a rather anarchic TV series in the seventies called Tiswas. A friend's mother forbid them from watching it because it was naughty. I, however, used to watch it with my dad. In retrospect I think he probably had a thing for Sally James so watching it was partly for his benefit and I was too young to understand his motivation at the time. My friend's mum also forbade them to watch Grange Hill, although we are all familiar with the spoof on the Young Ones where the kids from Grange Hill are described as the only ones in Britain that never say f***.

Anyway, Tiswas was already disreputable so it was natural that the cast would move on to making an adult late night version called OTT (Over the Top) which ran for a single series in 1982. There are a couple of full episodes in VHS quality on YouTube.

I love this show. Mainly because it's as puerile as I am. The first episode kicked off well by featuring the Balloon Dance. There's a spot the willy competition in this one and a competition to set the competition for the week after, with a prize of a Superman alarm clock.

I have decided not to overdo the description on this one, because it loses something. However I will just say the high point for me is a spot with Alexei Sayle doing the dance of the faulty central heating boiler to the audience's accompaniment with what he describes as 'guerilla' musical instruments. There is also a performance by the Beatles.

I'm not making this up. In fact the rather home spun feel is accentuated by Lenny Henry saying that he's making an announcement very slowly to allow the set to be changed - and speeding up to frenetic when the change is completed. If you can't cope with this roughness around the edges you wouldn't like it.

Totally unrelated to the subject of the post but let's end with a compilation of funny England football chants. Sadly it doesn't include the one we Blues fans sing to Wolves fans, 'Your mom is your dad's sister'.



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