Guardian article about double acts
Six to Watch: Comedy double acts
Fry and Laurie will be reunited on screen tomorrow night - one of many talented twosomes to have graced British television. Which others do we also think of fondly?
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Fry and Laurie: returning for a 90-minute special. Link to this video
Tomorrow night one of Britain's favourite double acts will be reunited, as Fry and Laurie return for a 90-minute special programme more than 15 years after they last appeared on screens together. The years apart have been kind to the Cambridge friends: Hugh Laurie's role as the curmudgeonly House has made him one of the most popular actors on US TV, while in the UK Stephen Fry has become something of a national treasure. But it is as a double act that we perhaps think of the pair with most affection.
There is something particularly special about television's comedic collaborations; those talented twosomes who have lightly entertained audiences over the years. But which pair are the top dogs in television's pound of punchlines? Here's our take on six of the greatest small screen double acts. Let us know who you would have included below.
Morecambe And Wise
At the heart of the double act lies the tried and tested formula of a straight man who serves up the gags for the clown to bat away. No one did this better than Morecambe and Wise â€“ perhaps the small screen's most successful pairing. An act whose enduring appeal can be measured by the fact that their best work, including the unashamedly populist choice above, has been burnt into the nation's collective consciousness.
Reeves And Mortimer
Whether it's hosting their mock gameshow Shooting Stars or giving us a whiff of their surreal sketches in The Smell Of Reeves And Mortimer, Vic and Bob tread a fine line between insanity and hilarity. But all the traditional comedic moments are in evidence: the silly banter, rapid fire gags and slapstick violence. You just have to wade through the club singing, flying frying pans and haunting recreations of famous food critics to get there.
French And Saunders
Sadly the only women on our list, for the best part of 20 years Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders pioneered their own brand of elaborate parody; a heady mix of richly sculpted spoof and references lampooning everything from Hollywood blockbusters to avant garde artwork. It's an oft imitated act, but nobody does it better â€“ and this Christmas the pair will be reunited on Radio 2 to remind us why.
Peter Cook And Dudley Moore
Part of the charm of this peculiar pairing is their unavoidable sense of mischief. Whether it's Cook's ad-libs or Moore's stifled giggles in reaction to them, they're an immensely engaging act to watch.
The Two Ronnies
For millions of viewers during the 1970s and 1980s the Two Ronnies were Saturday night. Consistently pulling in the type of viewing figures that even The X Factor would be proud of, Ronnies Barker and Corbett hold a special place for their tall tales, superb sketches and mesmerising musical interludes.
Adam And Joe
Many modern comedy duos tickle the odd funny bone but pale in comparison to some of the fine specimens lovingly preserved in our collection. Standing head and shoulders above their peers are Adam and Joe â€“ a pair who've captured the zeitgeist by lovingly picking over pop culture's carcass with an irreverent eye and razor sharp wit.
Lee And Herring: Two wildly different characters whose contrasting qualities complement each other perfectly. We should take time to doff our caps, or shake a Fist Of Fun, in their general direction
Baddiel And Skinner: Even if you're not a follower of football then you've got to appreciate the chemistry between a pair of funny men who've forged a career out of banter.