With the second series of Harry and Paul back on our tellyboxes tonight we take a look at the career of the slightly shorter half of that comedy pairing – Paul Whitehouse. Once a part-time plasterer living on a Hackney council estate, Whitehouse is now recognised as one of Britain’s top comedic talents and the man behind some of the best sketches of all time. So come on down Mr Whitehouse as we take a look at your life on screen in five quick clips!
1. Bing Bang Bong – Beginnings
Whitehouse is the first to admit that without Harry Enfield he wouldn’t be where he is today (which currently is making a show with Harry Enfield). After a chance meeting in a pub, the pair struck up a bond and university drop-out Paul, together with his pal and future Fast Show co-star Charlie Higson, started writing material for Enfield’s stage act.
The brains behind Enfield’s best-known character Loadsamoney, the working partnership rose to prominence on Harry Enfield and Chums from which our first clip is taken:
2. Brilliant! – The Fast Show
The revolutionary format of The Fast Show gave Whitehouse the perfect platform to present a whole cast of comedy creations each with real heart. Okay, so all the sketches led to an inevitable catchphrase, but this is long before Little Britain and Catherine Tate cheapened this titter-raising tactic.
Surefire crowd-pleasers like Unlucky Alf (“Oh Buggar”), Tailor Ken (“Suits you Sir”), Arthur Atkinson (“Where’s me washboard?”) as well as characters with more depth like gardener Ted and estate owner Ralph, have all earned their place in the nation’s hearts. Our favourite? The perpetually pickled Rowley Birkin QC:
3. Acting Chops – Help
Although best known for triggering uncontrollable belly-laughs, Whitehouse’s immense acting talent shouldn’t be overlooked. In Help, which he wrote with Chris Langham, Whitehouse stars as a multitude of characters who take a seat on the psychotherapist’s couch. Here is a tear-jerking scene with Jewish cab driver Monty from a brilliant series which will be forever overshadowed by Langham’s paedophilia conviction.
4. Hollywood Homies – Friendship with Johnny Depp
Away from the small screen you’ve probably chortled at a Whitehouse delivered line without even knowing it. A big fan of the Fast Show, Johnny Depp struck up a friendship with Whitehouse after appearing in the last episode with the Suits You tailors. Depp once named Whitehouse “the greatest actor of all time”, signing him up to provide voices in Finding Neverland, The Corpse Bride and most recently Alice In Wonderland where he plays the Thackery Earwicket the March Hare:
5. Commercial Chortles – Aviva Adverts
You can’t blame him for wanting to earn a bit of money on the side can you? But while many actors smear their own reputations to plug a product (we’re looking at you Kevin Spacey – seriously, ‘camera chow picture wow’?) the Whitehouse creations used to promote Aviva Insurance prove what a genius he continues to be. From gay goth to aging hippy Whitehouse simply grabs an outfit, slaps on some make-up and comes up with characters both believable and endearing. Get on ye janner!