Wednesday, 5 January 2011

99: Alexei Sayle, "'Ullo John, Gota New Motor?" (no.15, 1984)

(And yes, before you ask, I am taking this list seriously.) Everything the pop charts were invented for, really: a fat bloke from Liverpool doing a deranged kind of performance art. It takes real chutzpah to make such gibberish this compelling - and especially to do it live on children’s television in front of an audience of visibly bewildered pre-teens, as the above clip illustrates. Within that tiny subgenre of one-hit wonders by 80s comedians, “‘Ullo John, Gota New Motor?” clearly beats out Harry Enfield’s “Loadsamoney” (no.4, 1988) or - heaven help us - Mel Smith’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” (no.3, 1987). Yet it may also be the sharpest nailing-down of a particular English character type up until Half Man Half Biscuit’s “Paintball’s Coming Home”. If nothing else, its four-and-a-half minutes pose two of the key questions of our time: “Is there life on Mars? Is there life in Peckham?”

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