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Ooh-La-La! French Farce on UK TV

The difference between French farce and English farce is that in English farce the naughty behaviour is implied – and milked for all it’s worth… but then turns out to be a misunderstanding: which keeps up the hypocritical, self-serving fiction that  “chaps (and chapesses) like us are frightfully moral really,” and that no-one in English society really behaves badly.

Whereas in French farce IT ALL REALLY HAPPENS. And the comedy comes from the relief in the audience that you weren’t caught doing it yourself. In French farce the events are heightened, speeded up, but you’re in no doubt whatever that the “naughtiness” actually occurred.

I’m talking about a few years back, of course. Now, everything is hanging out from every possible orifice and in every conceivable direction. Which means that the great French farces are no longer playable.

BUT I realised, during the first series of Keep it in The Family, that author Brian Cooke was experimenting with styles. Freed from restrictions of co-authorship, in one episode he attempted an American-style opening scene of rapid-fire one-liners. Unfortunately, the day we recorded that episode the whole audience had come from old people’ homes and couldn’t keep up. In another episode Brian attempted a whole sequence in the style of a classic French farce.

We’ve put the essential story elements together. See what you think…