Happy Hour (TV Series 2007–2008) Poster

(I) (2007–2008)

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All Hail to the Ale: Beer and Good Cheer from the comic Guv'nor himself.
trimmerb12343 April 2007
Mountainous applause each week greets The Pub Landlord - invention of Britain's cleverest stand-up comic, Al Murray, the King of Cheer, as he walks on stage and greets his rapturous audience. Posing as an ignorant loudmouthed xenophobe but rather soft hearted London pub landlord, Murray's character shares his thoughts on a dazzling range of subjects -of which he appears to know very little and confesses some of his deepest feelings.

Murray won the Perrier Comedy award in 1999 and developed a devoted fan base through his series of one man stage shows.

With his head permanently in 1940 - Britain's Finest Hour - the patriotic Pub Landlord is contemptuous of modern day youth, and those unwilling to fight for their country. Had he been able to find someone trustworthy to look after the bar in his absence, nothing could have stopped him entering the Falklands fray himself apart from his small medical problem. An emotional man, his patriotism has a softer side - mention of The Queen brings tears to his eyes, necessitating application of the enormous Union Jack handkerchief he keeps ready for just such patriotic emergencies. Fans know that his unspeakable hatred of the French had its origin in the loss of his wife to a Frenchman. That his wife took their only child, a son, only added to his anguish. He must face the future alone with all his dynastic plans for his beloved boy come to nothing. He can only count the years (now around 7) since he last saw his son - and had relations with his wife - or any woman at all for that matter. All this an understandable source of bitterness and frustration whose target has become The French Nation and everything and anything French. On the positive side he considers himself reasonably well educated in the finer things of life - food especially, pub food in particular. Always knowing exactly what kind of drink (Lager, white wine or "fruit based drink" - "grey or orange") goes with what kind of bar snack. Inordinately proud of Britain, the Pub Landlord celebrates "British Thinking" - that genius that once combined glass, weaving, potatoes and chicken into something far greater than the sum of its parts: Chicken-in-a-Basket. He has some compassion for other countries who are forced to speak in unnatural languages. A stickler for old fashioned values The Pub Landlord strongly disapproves of females drinking beer (unless proved to contain lime). In the Pub Landlord's universe women can only be either stay-at-home mothers or, if working, nurses or secretaries. Political Correctness we suppose has not been allowed to enter the smoky interior of the Pub Landlord's "gaff". It is, as he says, "My Gaff, My Rules!" Underneath the bone head persona and skin head is Britain's smartest comic talent.

In real life the product of public school and Oxford, in real life fairly pc, Al Murray's cleverness can be seen in the brilliance of his set piece routines, often topical and in the speed and sharpness of his ad lib exchanges with first time audience members who have chosen the front row: "What's your name pal? Lovely British name. What do you do for a living?" IT workers receive his scorn, Firemen his tearful admiration for doing "a real job"; Students: "You obviously didn't hear the question". One woman said that she didn't know whether to answer yes or no to his question. "Dont worry Love, I've got a reply ready for either" he responded. The amazing thing about Murray is that he always has a funny reply - for anything. An immense repertoire to suit any occasion - instantly accessed.

The Pub Landlord enquires if there are any overseas visitors in the audience. Visitors receive an off-colour welcome and an unwelcome detailed reminder of their most recent sporting disaster. "Are there any "Septics" in the house? he asks - "From which city?" Visitor impressively names a major city. "I've never been there. Do you want to know why?". "Because it's not an important place". Modern day feminism is just one of the things that the Pub Landlord believes is threatening the "Great" in Great Britain. Confirmation that Murray largely lives in the present day is his complete absence of racism - his joke-xenophobia is reserved solely for those big enough to take it.

Murray did not so much induce roars of laughter at his earlier stage shows, more often the wit and the unexpectedness of his material had the audience silently and painfully convulsed for nearly two hours. Happy Hour takes his stage show and seamlessly grafts onto it a celebrity guest spot - and subjects them to his ignorant-innocent devastating questions. Murray takes care to research their backgrounds, their highs and their lows, and things they'd rather not talk about - and talks about them. Just a little padding is evident as with the later stage shows.

Murray is also a brilliant physical comedian, capable of extraordinary transformations both visual - and oral. In a moment a really chilling, supercilious SS Komandant capable of setting Anglo-German relations back 60 years; in another moment an elegant stag bounding across the stage; in another moment again, a newly born dinosaur. Two comedians could have had successful careers with Murray's talent.

Like a glass of finest lager the shows are best appreciated when drunk - accompanied by crisps and nuts. It's a world class comic talent behind the bar of a grubby traditional British pub. It captures the national mood of self-mockery mixed with nostalgic pride. Like traditional British beer, the locals love it - others may perhaps find it a bit bitter and a bit flat. Like British beers - it's an acquired taste - and a kind of initiation test.
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Entertaining Chat Show
bs3dc17 March 2007
I was a little sceptical at first at whether this would work with the Pub Landlord character, partly as many chat shows where the host is in character end up being fairly tiresome. The character had already been a great success on the comedy circuit and a minor success as a sitcom - "Time Gentlemen Please" - it was going to be interesting to see how it faired in another format.

Al Murray's experience as a stand-up comedian really helps him out as he is able to ad-lib and engage with the audience in a way that is far superior to other more scripted chat-show hosts, whose attempts to warm the audience up at the start are often rather weak. The chat itself is a little lightweight, but it was more enjoyable than watching the guest squirm as endless questions about their sex-life are fired at them, as many hosts clearly think the audience are only interested in that aspect of their lives. Murray knows how far he can go before offending someone so he should avoid any storming off.

The only real problem is that being on ITV1 "Happy Hour" ends up being closer to 40 minutes due to advertisement breaks which means that the interviews end up feeling a little short. Al Murray also makes every guest musician play a Queen song as well as a piece of their own work so how much you enjoy that aspect will depend on how much of a Queen fan you are.

The guest list in the main looked on paper as though he had trouble getting in the 'A-list' but in the end it proved to be a blessing in disguise as he has people on his programme who haven't been on half a dozen other chat shows in the same week, done about the same in magazine interviews, and consequently run out of interesting things to say before their appearance. Having said this is going to failure to make a major impact in the ratings I suspect unless he is able to draw in the really big names in any future series.

Hopefully this will get re-commissioned as it really is a good deal more fun (and funny) than the overrated Johnathon Ross and Michael Parkinson.
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The best chat show ever
trevor_talbot17 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This show is absolutely perfect. It never fails to make me laugh out loud. Al Murray is a brilliant host. He doesn't suck up to the guests, although he isn't nasty either.

Any fan of Happy Hour must go to see it recorded. Al Murray always mucks about during the breaks in filming, which is very funny.

I love it when Al Murray interacts with the audience at the beginning of the show. It proves how good Al Murray is at improvising.

In these days of suffocating political correctness it is good how The Pub Landlord loves everything British. It's good to see someone who says how great Britain is without worrying about upsetting other cultures.
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well, the best chat show on earth (in my opinion)
ellingcheese198914 February 2008
Pure British thinking. taking 3 celebrities and interviewing them in a mock-up pub. If your a fan of pub drinking, you'll know the best conversations happen in the pub, and this show uses that format and makes Excellent viewing.

Al Murray is a genius. Quick witted, drunk, and a surprising genius. All hail to the ale, and the show begins. i've been lucky enough to see the recording of show 2.6, and it was the most fun i have ever had. The show begins with Al doing some stand-up, speaking with the front row and talking about how great Britain is. This beginning shows Al's quick wit. He can instantly make a joke out of someones name, job or looks. but he does it without being too insulting.

The show then goes on to the guests. simple chat show questions, but Al is constantly insulting the celebrities. great to see your favourite undeserving idiot of a celebrity status (Limbit Opik, Cerys Matthews, Mark Bannerman) getting ripped on, on TV. but Al also has a laugh with the other deserving celebrities.

After two guests we get a musical interlude. Top bands. after that the final guest comes on. same format as above, then we get the obligatory queen number. the band comes on and sings a queen song of Al's choice. I was lucky enough to dance at the front to Hard-Fi being chosen out of the many people.

Overall, this show is pure genius, and i can confirm the second series has been commissioned for an extra 6 shows. i would recommend this show to ANYONE who would like entertainment at its highest.

thank you, AND please take your glasses back to the bar!!!! (warnings, do not watch if you are french, German, American, NOT English, if you where anoraks, like Duran Duran, hate queen, are a woman who isn't a nurse, secretary or housewife)
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