Little Britain is the popular TV sketch show which was originally filmed and popularised in the UK, but has since been broadcasted elsewhere. One of the most popular and oft-imitated sketches on the show is that of the Little Britain characters Louis ‘Lou’ Bob Todd and Andrew ‘Andy’ Pipkin, who will be detailed in this article.
The premise of the Lou and Andy sketch
Lou is the kind, generous carer for the seemingly disabled Andy, who is brusque, snappy and demanding, boasting catchphrases such as “yeah, I know”, “(I) don’t like it” and “(I) want that one”. The ever-patient Lou usually meets such demands with a jokey sigh and a hearty exclamation of “what a kerfuffle!” Unbeknownst to Lou, however, Andy is not actually disabled and merely feigns it for an easy ride (literally and metaphorically). This is central piece of the sketch as Andy Pipkin gets up to do various strenuous and/or intellectual tasks when Lou is not looking often because Lou is sorting out special arrangements for Andy, such as wheelchair ramps (which are of course, unbeknownst to him, ultimately unnecessary).
Positive reception of the sketch
Like the show in general, the sketch gained notoriety and was used in playgrounds and offices across Britain because of its easily imitable catchphrases. It is also very easy to ‘get’ the humour in the sketch because it heavily plays on the old-age narrative/comedic device of dramatic irony. This is the device of giving the spectator information that at least one of the characters in the narrative is not aware of, usually in three distinct stages installation, exploitation and resolution. This device is known for resulting in comedy, in addition to implicitly making the audience feel better about themselves.
Negative reception of the sketch
Many, however, feel the sketch is contrived and repetitive; perhaps a little amusing in the first instance, but growing tiresome with the endless repetition and in the keeping the same fundamental gag with merely specifics changed. This is similar to frequent criticisms of the show; that is the ‘lowest common denominator’ and not ‘real humour’; just people saying inane catchphrases. Some have even claimed that the Lou and Andy sketch is derogatory to those who work in care and/or the disabled, for it supposedly implies that care workers are being taken for ride by ‘disabled’ people who are exaggerating/feigning their injuries. The show’s creators, Matt Lucas and David Walliams, would presumably respond to this by saying that the sketch is not intended to be taken seriously and as such, no offence is meant.