I just heard about a new British tourism initiative called ComedyEngland, which plans to take tourists to places where British comedy programs have been filmed, and can honestly say I have never heard of anything less funny in my life.
Apparently, some tourism executives who were not high on cocaine (or maybe they were) dreamt up the "have a laugh" holiday schedule which includes a weekend break in Slough to get a flavor of Ricky Gervais's The Office and a day trip to Guildford to spot landmarks from Four Weddings and a Funeral. Binley Woods, Coventry - home of Hyacinth Bucket of Keeping up Appearances - and Billericay, the Essex stamping ground of Gavin from Gavin and Stacey fame, are also among the attractions listed by VisitBritain as part of ComedyEngland.
The most visited places for comic nostalgia are expected to be Torquay, location for Fawlty Towers, Holmfirth in West Yorkshire, setting for Last of the Summer Wine, Turville in the Chilterns, the parish made famous by The Vicar of Dibley, Norwich, home to Steve Coogan's I'm Alan Partridge, and Cricket St Thomas, Somerset, the village where Peter Bowles and Penelope Keith filmed To the Manor Born. Another suggested trip is to Morecambe to see Eric Morecambe's statue.
To which I say, Slough? Why would anyone want to visit Slough? Now I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth, more like a rusty tin one (if you want to know all about my colorful childhood you can read about it in my potted bio: the long road from bastard to nob), but at least my mother had the foresight to make sure that if we had to live in a council flat it should be in St. John's Wood. You can be poor and look at attractive architecture you know! So who in the name of God would want to go to Slough?
And okay, Norwich is quite nice, but what the heck is the point of going if you don't bump into Alan Partridge and his combover crossing the cobbled streets and saying "Knowing Me, Knowing You, Aha?"
What these twits at VisitBritain have failed to notice is that the comedians are what people want to see. A better initiative would be to just have the comics flown to your house, to prance about in character, for a hefty price. I would give my left arm to have Richard Griffiths come to a party as Uncle Monty and am willing to pay up to $100,000 for the privilege of hearing him say, "Flowers are essentially tarts...prostitutes for the bees. There is something very special about a young, firm carrot."
What do you think? A good idea, what? What famous person would you like at your party, what would you like them to do and how much would you be willing to pay? When I become a millionaire I will fulfil all your deepest darkest desires....
Who am I? Displaced Londoner now living in the States with my two little girlies and long suffering husband. Co-author of hilarious parenting book Cocktails at Naptime www.cocktailsatnaptime.com
My mom's an Austrian, my dad's a Brit, which makes me a Britaustrian, or possibly an Austrish?