Unlike American television where broadcast networks have made a living for years producing full-length programs that have centered around bloopers filmed during the actual episode recording, program bloopers for a majority of British telly, be it comedy or drama, have always been few and far between. Having had the great good fortune over the years to be able to interview many British actors for a number of behind-the-scenes programs for PBS, the recurring answer to the question as to whether they could recall any particularly memorable bloopers or funny moments on set during taping was always met with the same response.
Whether it was Judi Dench, Patricia Routledge, Geoffrey Palmer, Dawn French, Frank Thornton, Mark Williams or John Cleese, the answer was always that they couldn’t remember any and that there “…simply wasn’t the time to mess up“. With such a short time for rehearsal available during the week which then culminated Sunday night with the recording before a studio audience, it was true, there simply wasn’t the time to screw up.
Having grown up on more American television blooper programs than the law should allow, it finally became clear to me just how true this was after attending an episode taping of Absolutely Fabulous with Minnie Driver on a 4th of July about ten years ago. Everyone involved on both sides of the camera had so much on their plate and a very finite amount of time to get it done before you flushed that episode out of your ‘mind palace’. You had to as, come Monday morning, it was time to begin again and begin preparation for the next episode.
While everyone would endlessly answer how much fun they had on their individual series and how the cast was like family, the craziest blooper seemed to be something as simple as, “I remember one time when this door wouldn’t open….“. Hardly the kind of blooper that would be the centerpiece of an American television hour in primetime.
Thankfully, we now have Vicious with Sirs Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi. With the second series set to begin Monday, 1 June on ITV in the UK and on Sunday, August 23 on PBS in the States, a few Vicious bloopers have surfaced to, once again, show just how amazing brilliant the co-stars are and desperately make you wish you were in the studio audience for the taping. FYI, from a language standpoint, the following may offend you and may be NSFW.
Vicious II returns Monday on ITV1 and will premiere on PBS beginning Sunday, August 23.