‘Swimsuit you, sir!’ – how we made The Quick Present, with Paul Whitehouse and Simon Day

‘Swimsuit you, sir!’ – how we made The Quick Present, with Paul Whitehouse and Simon Day

Paul Whitehouse


In these days, the BBC have been ready to take a punt on folks. So Charlie Higson and I went to them with a load of characters we had developed. The tailors have been primarily based on my experiences as a youngster shopping for garments in Edmonton Inexperienced, London. I keep in mind one man who was just a little overfamiliar. A hand would go into the waistband and he’d say: “Oooh, a bit roomy in there.” The catchphrase “Swimsuit you, sir!” is like outdated music corridor. My mum by no means favored these sketches.

Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews got here up with Ted and Ralph: a younger aristocrat, his historic retainer, and the love that dare not communicate its identify. I keep in mind taking part in the Ted and Ralph sketches for take a look at audiences and, actually, at first they have been completely bewildered. Truly, Charlie and I felt the identical means once we watched them again within the edit. “What on earth was that about?” we puzzled.

There was plenty of pathos in some characters. That means we might go from knockabout to tragic – I don’t assume it had been executed earlier than in a sketch present. Rowley Birkin was impressed by a really posh man I had met on a fishing journey who I merely couldn’t perceive. I’d solely get each third phrase. I’d get into all of the gear then sit in a chair and simply ramble. Charlie would maintain up just a few key phrases and I’d bung them in wherever.

We have been fairly assured of this world we had created. Not in a smug means, however in a “We like what we’re doing, it doesn’t hassle us should you don’t” means. It didn’t matter if there wasn’t a setup or a punchline – and it didn’t hassle the viewers. We tried to not do too many topical gags, which is one motive why it appears to have lasted nicely.

When the primary episode went out, some folks favored it, some have been confused, some hated it. We had a small cult following nevertheless it didn’t attain the mainstream. The second sequence caught on, nevertheless. I’d get catchphrases shouted at me on the street: “Little bit whoa, little bit whey”; “Swimsuit you, sir.” Folks cherished it. It’d be churlish to moan.

‘What would this used-car salesman not be fascinated with? International warming’ … Simon Day as eco warrior Dave Angel. {Photograph}: BBC

Throughout that second sequence, Johnny Depp received in contact. He was borderline obsessive about the present. When we mentioned he might be in a sketch, he flew in and got here straight to the studio. Years later, after I did just a little cameo on a movie of his, I knocked on his dressing room door at eight within the morning – and he was watching Rowley Birkin. “Yeah man,” he mentioned. “I gotta have my Quick Present buzz within the morning.”

Simon Day


After I began out, I didn’t wish to be a “Thatcher is dangerous” standup. My forte was characters. So I used to be tailored for a sketch present.

It’s all the time been fairly wordy, my stuff, although. The others would say: “Your characters have to have a catchphrase.” John Thomson used to say: “Even James Bond has a catchphrase.” However mine didn’t. That was my stubbornness, or maybe simply my not understanding the format.

Dave Angel was loosely primarily based on Mike Reid, who was Frank Butcher on EastEnders. I used to be juxtaposing two very various concepts. What would this used-car salesman not be remotely fascinated with? International warming. So it will be humorous if he was obsessive about it.

Aggressive Dad was impressed by a man I noticed at a swimming pool. He had two children in water wings and he out of the blue raced off doing entrance crawl, the youngsters panting after him. When he received to the opposite finish, he had this crazed, triumphant glow in his eyes. I believed: “That’s actually sick.” What’s bizarre is that my son received to a excessive degree taking part in soccer and I used to like taking him to matches. However you’d see among the different dads me on the touchline considering: “That bloke did that sketch – and he’s now shouting at his personal child.”

I don’t assume the BBC would take an opportunity on one thing like that now. Paul and Charlie would ask: “However what’s the joke?” You couldn’t simply do one thing bizarre. Paul used to say: “I’m not right here to make Bob Mortimer snort. I need this to achieve success. Harry Enfield will get 10 million viewers!”

The Simon Day & Associates Tour – that includes characters from The Quick Present and extra – begins 29 September.

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