In 1998, Channel 4 played a little-seen sketch show called Barking, starring some of todays famous faces from the world of comedy (Peter Kay, Catherine Tate, Omid Djalili) and films (Mackenzie Crook no less). Released for the first time on DVD, these 6 episodes show the career beginnings of these now household names.
Seeing these actors in their relative primacy is entertaining for a short amount of time, but after that its only really Marcus Brigstocke who can hold his head up high. The Now Show regular has two of the superior sketches, as a psychotic and borderline schizophrenic airline pilot whose announcements to the passengers range from calm irrelevancy to hysterical and murderous, and an evangelical “Cycle Master”, who punishes all those who stray from the “cycle path”. Mackenzie Crook’s tactless and explicit teacher also has his amusing moments.
There’s two very good reasons you won’t have heard of ‘Barking’. Firstly, it was shown in a very quiet slot without much fanfare, and secondly, it’s really not very funny. Most running gags fall fairly flat, especially those involving David Walliams, as well as the cursed preachers, who simply run around having accidents and blaspheme openly. Also, the marketing gives a primary spot to Peter Kay, who, in all 6 episodes, is in the grand total of one forgettable sketch, so don’t expect the man who said “garlic bread” repeatedly to huge acclaim to be bringing you more hilarity.