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Boyz Unlimited
UK, C4 (Hat Trick Productions), Satire, colour, 1999
Starring: Frank Harper, James Corden, Lee Williams

Nigel Gacey is a cockney wideboy who made a fortune in the 1980s by dealing in the stolen eggs of rare-birds. Now, in the 1990s, he has turned his hand to another get-rich-quick scheme - the invention and marketing of a boy-band.

Having found a singer-songwriter, Gareth, who has the prerequisite stature ('fat boy writes the music'), Gacey advertises in The Stage for wannabe pop stars and soon assembles the other members of the band - Scott (the cute one), Little Nicky (the even more cute one) and Jason (the other one). Scott is, in fact, the upper-class Giles Hornchurch, but Gacey forces him to change his name to the more boy-band-friendly Scott Le Tissier. Before they have even decided what to call themselves, they sign up with a record company and its executive Katie May picks the moniker Boyz Unlimited from a list of marketable band names.

At first, everything seems to go swimmingly but cracks soon appear. To his dismay, Gareth realises they are not going to use his songs but record cover versions. Nicky, 15, is unveiled as a rampant womaniser - his ex-headmistress Jean Allen, who supervises his on-the-road education, is carrying his baby. Jason is pursued by thugs seeking repayment of a £20,000 debt. Scott's parents are so unhappy with the Boyz Unlimited arrangement that his father goes on hunger strike. And Gacey's violent past is never far from the surface - his patience is sorely tested as the boys screw up most of the opportunities put their way. Worse, their fierce rivals, Boyz Limited, a band manufactured just before them, seem to be going from strength to strength.

This was a cynical and savage attack on the manufactured pop band culture of the 1990s. On the surface it could be seen as a one-joke wonder but Osman and his team managed to squeeze a good deal out of the slim premise. A minor hit.

Researched and written by Mark Lewisohn.

Frank Harper - Nigel Gacey
James Corden - Gareth Jones
Lee Williams - Scott Le Tissier (Giles Hornchurch)
Billy Worth - Nicky Vickery
Lindy Whiteford - Jean Allen
Anna Wilson-Jones - Katie May
Andy Gray - Keith Jackson
Adam Sinclair - Janet Jackson
Geoffrey Beevers - Mr Hornchurch
Frankie Jordan - Mrs Hornchurch
Jo Whiley - Narrator

Matt Lucas - Deviser
David Walliams - Deviser
Richard Osman - Deviser
Richard Osman - Writer
David Walliams - Additional Material
Liddy Oldroyd - Director
Denise O'Donoghue - Executive Producer
Jimmy Mulville - Executive Producer
Richard Osman - Producer
Transmission Details
Number of episodes: 6 Length: 30 mins
5 Feb-12 Mar 1999 · Fri 9.30pm

The information in the Guide to Comedy is complied from 'The Radio Times Guide to Television Comedy' by Mark Lewisohn, published by BBC Books. More information about the book is available from the BBC Shop.
(The BBC is not responsible for the content of external links.)

Reviews supplied by Radio Times © 2003 BBC Worldwide - used under licence from BBC Worldwide.

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