It’s the end of a big-collared, bespectacled era this weekend, when Harry Hill hosts what he’s promised will be his last ever episode of his TV Burp. After a decade on-air, the joyously daft TV digest has become part of the Saturday night landscape and will be much missed it. Here’s a few of our favourite gags...
This sketch started with the basic but amusing observation that on Jimmy’s Food Factory, the Vienetta ice cream cakes going round on conveyor belts at Wall’s HQ resembled German tanks rolling into Poland. Hill took the joke to its illogical conclusion, staging an ice cream battle between the Nazi Vienetta and a plucky English 99 cone, backed up by a Funny Face lolly firing Zoom rockets from a Alvis Scorpion tank. Take that, frozen Fuhrer!
Delia Smith’s pronunciation of chickpea dip hummous became a running gag, with the camera cutting from the cookery doyenne saying “hoo-moose” back to Hill asking, “Who moose? Me moose? Aha. You moose!”
After a woolly toy briefly popped up in EastEnders, it adopted by TV Burp. There was a weekly competition, "Where Has The Knitted Character Been This Week?", in which viewers tried to spot him in other shows. It even inspired spoof talent contest “The K Factor: So You Think You Can Knit?”, which saw viewers send in their own knitted creations and climaxed in a “Not Live Final. On Ice”. (Peter The Wingless Duck won, in case you’re wondering.)
Inadvertent rhyming lines from dramas or documentaries end up in TV Burp Poetry Corner. For example: "Marine biologist Mark Marks has dedicated his life to studying sharks”. Or Lord Sugar on The Apprentice: “Will a leopard ever change its spots? I’ll never know. But that’s the reason I let Debra go.”
EastEnders is the most-spoofed soap – despite initially refusing to hand over clips, which Hill got round by using reconstructions, crude animation and even courtroom-style sketches. The BBC softened their stance and Cockney-mocking is now a regular theme, from dancing Queen Victoria busts to Phil Mitchell shouting “get aht!”, regular stooge “Heather from EastEnders” (a sausage-fixated fat man in tabard and wig) and clips of characters shoving each other into the Albert Square shrubbery. Altogether now: “Bush push!”
Emmerdale character Val’s eye problems became a recurring joke, with Hill repeating the surprised response to a doctor’s diagnosis (“Cataracts?”), then passing the news onto a chain of celebrities. A passing mention of “ear cataracts” a few weeks later was spoofed in the same way – only this time, the star-studded montage lasted a over a minute, featuring 41 cameos from the likes of Noel Edmonds, Richard and Judy, Jonathan Ross and Ricky Gervais.
ITV gameshow The Cube involves various challenges inside a giant Perspex cube. Except, as Hill points out, it’s actually a rectangular cuboid. Hence every time host Philip Schofield mentions “The Cube”, which he does constantly, cut to Hill impatiently snapping: “It’s not a cube.”
Hill regularly demolishes the daft documentary output of BBC Three and became particularly obsessed by the series Freaky Eaters. After a clip announced what foodstuff the oddballs were addicted to, Hill would repeat it in a gurning, childish shout: “beansy-weans!”, “hoopy hoops!” and, the one that really stuck, “chippy chips!” He stopped this a few years ago, but says it’s still the thing that gets shouted at him most by van drivers.
Hill has little time for Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s worthy food programmes and did a particularly fine hatchet job on Hugh’s Chicken Run. At one point, the celebrity chef surveyed an intensive farming barn 3000 hens and emotionally asked, “What animal of any kind would like to live in here?” Cut to Hill: “A fox.”
As he approaches the commercial break, Hill will look thoughtful. “I like X,” he’ll muse. “And I also like Y. But which is better? Only one way to find out. Fiiiiiight!” Combatants enter from opposite sides of the set and grapple in front of his desk. The costume department have got increasingly creative, moving from people to animals, inanimate objects and even God vs Satan. Half the fun is spotting when the fight is coming and which one Hill cheers for as we cut to the ads. True Burp nerds know it’s always the underdog, which memorably led to him rooting for Hitler in a scrap with Heather Mills.