Well, I say ‘Australia’, but as reported it was strangely dropped from New South Wales regional affiliates WIN and NBN. As someone who grew up in New South Wales on a steady diet of NBN, I think I speak for my own people when I say that they can handle this show. ‘The regional TV audience is different’, maybe, but that’s only because we’re strategically targeted for fertiliser commercials.
For those who are fans of Matt Lucas and David Walliams in their previous efforts with Little Britain, there will be nothing unexpected in this show – it’s very much more of the same formula, diluted and minus the shock value in favour of a PG rating.
Come Fly With Me uses airport reality shows as a template, featuring pilots, check-in staff, kiosk workers, flight attendants and passengers as they interact in the airport environment. Helped along with some straight-faced narration and good production values (it was filmed in the functioning Stansted Airport), the show has some real authenticity to it, if it weren’t for the outrageous characters.
Lucas and Walliams play the majority of the characters between them, of various ethnicity, age and gender. Outrageous humour is mined from ethnic stereotypes and economic classes, but hey, it’s all in good fun. Each character has a common trait or joke that are exploited in a skit each episode. It won’t take long for you to be able to guess each punchline, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable – if anything the lack of crude jokes has made the show rely on more clever material. You actually see a bit of a storyline and characters develop over the course of the six episodes.
Melody and Keeley the check-in girls get some great material to work with as the two friends compete for the one promotion, and the Irish flight attendant Fergel comes a long way through the season, even if he does begin it last night be putting a child in the overhead storage locker (something we found a lot less funny when a Virgin Blue flight attendant tried the same thing).
Some of the characters were great, but are clearly just one joke material. Precious the South African coffee stand manager is brilliant in overracting, and a couple of Japanese schoolgirls singing their tribute to Martin Clune is hilarious! Although… I have no idea who he is.
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It might be worth pointing out that Channel 9 began airing this series within a week of Angry Boys on the ABC, which could be seen as an Australian flavour of the same kind of material. Much as the Little Britain duo took their show to the US for a season in Little Britain USA, Chris Lilley is now experiencing the same treatment, with part of Angry Boys directly catering to his new HBO audience.
Doubtless, if you liked Little Britain you’ll get a lot out of Come Fly With Me. It’s good for a laugh, but it isn’t a show that breaks the mold.