Dame Edna's Neighbourhood Watch
"Dame Edna Everage" (Barry Humphries)
"Madge Allsop" (Emily Perry)
LWT for ITV, 19 September 1992 to 23 October 1993 (12 episodes in 2 series)
This was actually a hysterically great show first time round, but then someone had the smart idea of doing a second series, by which time people knew what the joke was. Oh well.
It began with quite a good theme tune though (depending on how much you like Dame Edna, I guess). In fact, quite a lot of this show hinged on whether you liked Dame Edna or not. Luckily, we thought she/he was in her element here.
To the audiences, this was a gameshow about the houses of the rich and famous and her magic gladioli would pick three people seemingly at random from the audience (with comic shrieking of 'YOU!' by the Dame when the flowers had chose somebody) and those were sent off to get make-uped and microphoned and that. Dame Edna now explains the joke to everyone at home and the audience but we'll get onto that later.
For one reason or another, because we forget, the whole audience was comprised of women. We'd then get a short film explaining some of the "fabulous prizes" that were on offer as demonstrated by Madge, Edna's mute bridesmaid. These included things like "for 10,000 points, you could win this box of chocolates - with all the soft centres removed!" and things like that.
Right, onto the game itself because this is where it gets good. The first round was a kind of buzzer round. The Dame would say 'whose house is... THIS!' before a picture of a famous person's house was flashed up on screen. Someone would buzz in for it. Good.
After this a couple of times, and you can probably guess where this might be going, she'll say 'whose house is... THIS!' Now, two of the contestants will draw a blank. The other one however will not, but will be laughing hysterically because yes, you guessed it, it was their house!
At this point Edna would try and deny it, going along the lines of "but you're not famous!" before finally succumbing, getting that player to sit in the hotseat in the middle of the stage.
"Wouldn't it be fantastic if we could cross over live to your house now? But the technology and equipment and cameras would cost millions and we probably wouldn't have that kind of money... BUT SPOOKILY ENOUGH WE HAVE! Are you there Trevor?!" Cue look of abject shock from the contestant in what is one of the funniest moments of the show every week because Dame Edna builds it up so well.
What follows is basically Through the Keyhole in reverse. We know who's house it is, now we get all the fun of looking through it and whatsmore, because a certain someone has set the whole thing up, all the embarassing things will be pointed out.
And after the break "you'd better say your prayers because we're going UP YOUR STAIRS!"
You're probably thinking that this is probably quite humiliating the person in question. Well you'd be right! Except that there wasn't any maliciousness in it at all. It was just funny and the person in question always saw the funny side.
There was an observation quiz involved for the other contestants but this was really just a by-product of the rest of the show. There was absolutely no way they could earn enogh points to get the "big prizes" but got a bottle of wine at the end of the show anyway. Quite a few of the questions were along the lines of "Suzanne has got a burgundy coloured carpet. Is this tasteless?" The final question of the show was "which one of these three dirty, despicable men set her up?" for lots of points (3). Excellently though, wife and git were given a nice holiday to thank them for looking through their house. Ahh.
So Series One was hilarious. Series Two couldn't therefore be quite as good because everyone in the audience would know what the joke was and so the amusement was lost.
In one outtake (although whether it qualifies is debateable since it happened during a tape stop), Dame Edna's knickers fell down her ankles.