Tv Review: Harry Hill’s Lonely Island

harry hills lonely island indexThe first outing for Harry Hill on the BBC was over twenty six years ago and saw the man produce a series of short black and white films under the Fruit Fancies banner, and now he’s back with more black and white shorts, but Jesus the difference is astonishing. Fruit Fancies was packed with invention and strange but funny ideas whereas this is just Hill messing about as three different characters, and failing to raise a single laugh during any of them.

The first film sees Hill dressed as a caveman which seems to involve a costume that must have cost less than a tenner, a poor wig and some facial markings, and he mucks around with an obviously fake third leg, either pretending it’s his own or eating it, which leads to a dodgy stomach and a really weak fart gag. Then he dances with a skeleton while Chris DeBurgh’s The Lady In Red plays, with the skeleton supposedly feeling him up, and then it chases him, and it’s almost astonishing as to how uninventive and unfunny it is, the kind of thing you’d think was written by a ten year old, except I imagine they’d be much funnier.

The second film features Hill as Napoleon, mistaking a baguette for a telescope and struggling to eat it. After finding his actual telescope he hurts himself with it, and is kicked in the arse by a donkey, and then there’s another fucking fart gag and I started to wonder if Hill was actively trolling his audience at this point given how lazy it is. The rest is equally as poor as Hill rides the donkey as we hear crowds inexplicably first cheering him and then booing him, then he kisses a photograph of a woman who looks an awful lot like him, before falling off the donkey, which laughs at him, and Hill seems to find this funny too. Then it ends with Hill riding the donkey again, but there isn’t even an attempt at humour, and it feels like he couldn’t be bothered to work out a way to bring it to a close in any funny manner, making it even worst than the first film.

The third in the series is entitled Monkey and Harry’s dressed as one and sitting in a tree, he pulls some faces for a bit, before becoming excited by a weird looking piece of fruit but struggling to reach it. Then he bites his tail, and his tail is unimpressed, it’s surreal and absurd but not in way amusing, and that’s also the case when a weird bird turns up and tries to eat the fruit before attacking Harry, presumably as it had seen the first two films. Then we’re back with Harry trying to get the fruit, and there’s a pull back and reveal as we learn the branch Harry was sat on the whole time was close to the ground and Harry was able to walk over to the fruit and grab it with ease, a tedious joke which made me groan given how obvious it was. When Harry eats the fruit for some reason it appears to contain a weird creature, but nothing funny is generated from this, then Harry’s attacked by the bird again before the camera floats off, as once again he presumably couldn’t be arsed to write an ending.

A fourth film has been postponed out of respect for the Queen due to Prince Phillip being in hospital, and I only hope he stays there for the next couple of decades and it means it’s never shown during my life time. I know these were made during a pandemic but that’s not preventing others from creating comedy far, far better than this, and it’s one of those occasions where I just can’t understand what was going through Hill’s mind, how he thought this was in any way acceptable. In all of the sketches the slapstick is the kind of material that has existed on celluloid for over a century, and was a hell of a lot more inventive than this is, while the weird moments don’t work because they’re never developed in any interesting ways.

Alex Finch.
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