The Fast Show
Cast: Paul Whitehouse, Simon Day, Mark Williams, John Thomson, Arabella Weir and Caroline Aherne
First Broadcast: 27 September 1994
Charlie Higson: Writer, producer, performer.
The Fast Show, known as Brilliant in the US, is a BBC comedy sketch show programme that ran for three seasons from 1994 to 1997 with a special Last Fast Show Ever in 2000. The show's central performers were Paul Whitehouse, Charlie Higson, Simon Day, Mark Williams, John Thomson, Arabella Weir and Caroline Aherne. Other significant cast members included Paul Shearer, Felix Dexter, Rhys Thomas, Jeff Harding, Maria McErlane, Eryl Maynard, Colin McFarlane and Donna Ewin.
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The show produced two national tours, the first in 1998 with the cast of the BBC spoof quiz show Shooting Stars and the second being their 'Farewell Tour' in 2002. The Fast Show was loosely structured and relied on character comedy, recurring running gags, and many catchphrases. Its fast-paced "blackout" style set it apart from traditional sketch series because of the number and relative brevity of its sketches; a typical half-hour TV sketch comedy of the period might have consisted of nine or ten major items, with contrived situations and extended setups, whereas the premiere episode of The Fast Show featured twenty-seven sketches in thirty minutes, with some items lasting less than ten seconds and none running longer than three minutes. Its innovative style and presentation influenced many later series such as The Catherine Tate Show and Little Britain.
It was one of the most popular sketch shows of the 1990s. The show has been released on video, DVD and audio CD. Some of its characters, Ron Manager, Ted and Ralph, Swiss Toni and Billy Bleach have had their own spin-off programmes.