Showdown Looms at British Comedy Awards

Next week's British Comedy Awards pit the BBC's Little Britain against the BBC and HBO show Extras. Little Britain swept last year's awards, but Extras is from Ricky Gervais, who created the smash hit The Office.

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(Soundbite of "Little Britain")

Unidentified Man #1: I'm only thinking of you. I really care about you because you are now really an enormous fat pig.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

That's from "Little Britain," a sketch comedy show on the BBC. That show is pitted, and never did a verb seem better chosen, against the show "Extras," which is seen on the BBC and HBO in next week's British Comedy Awards. "Extras" is the new program from Ricky Gervais, co-creator and star of the smash BBC series "The Office." "Little Britain" creators and stars Matt Lucas and David Walliams swept the British Comedy Awards last year. Both shows are racy, tasteless and funny. "Extras" is about actors who are extras on movie sets. In this clip from the show, Maggie Jacobs, played by Ashley Jensen, makes a feeble attempt to flirt with another extra, who is black.

(Soundbite of "Extras")

Unidentified Man #2: I'm just trying to get into TV.

Ms. ASHLEY JENSEN: (As Maggie Jacobs) Sure.

Unidentified Man #2: I mean, to be honest, there's not a lot of black faces needed on television.

Ms. JENSEN: (As Jacobs) No. "CrimeWatch."

Unidentified Man #2: What?

Ms. JENSEN: (As Jacobs) The reconstructions of "CrimeWatch." They always need black actors, or white actors. They need black actors and white actors, well, depending on who's committing the crime that day.

SIMON: And in "Little Britain," a college guidance counselor who's a transvestite makes a phone call to assist one of his or her students.

(Soundbite of "Little Britain")

Unidentified Actor: Hello, Martin; it's Linda. I've Paul Roberts(ph) here. Needs you to sign his grant application form. You know Paul. Everyone knows Paul. Short-length brown hair, wears a lot of jewelry, looks up a lot. Gets his clothes from Mother Care. That's it. The Oompa Loompa.

SIMON: The shows are distinctly different in style. "Little Britain" is flashy, brassy and packed with cross-dressers. There's an adult man named Harvey who still breast-feeds. "Extras" is somewhat more subtle, relying on the comic pleasures of social clumsiness. In this clip, Ricky Gervais' character, an extra in a movie being directed by Ben Stiller, and the film is supposed to be a tragedy based on a true story, and here Ricky Gervais looks at photographs with the person on whose life the movie is based.

(Soundbite of "Extras")

Unidentified Man #3: My wife, pictures of my wife. Very beautiful.

Mr. RICKY GERVAIS: She is.

Unidentified Man #3: Our first holiday. Here she is with my son, one year old.

Mr. GERVAIS: Nice boy.

Unidentified Man #3: Nice no more. Dead. Dead boy.

(Soundbite of pages turning)

Unidentified Man #3: My wife again.

Mr. GERVAIS: Oh, she wouldn't look at that. Was she disturbed by the...

Unidentified Man #3: No, she is dead, lying in the street.

Mr. GERVAIS: Oh, I see now. So...

Unidentified Man #3: Dead.

Mr. GERVAIS: Yeah. Why'd you take her pict...

Unidentified Man #3: Why did I take a portrait of her?

Mr. GERVAIS: Of--yeah.

Unidentified Man #3: To show the world what must be shown. This is why I want film to be made by Ben Stiller.

Mr. GERVAIS: Ben Stiller of "Zoolander," sure.

Unidentified Man #3: You look.

Mr. GERVAIS: Yeah.

Unidentified Man #3: Dead.

Mr. GERVAIS: I...

Unidentified Man #3: Naked.

Mr. GERVAIS: Yes.

Unidentified Man #3: You look.

Mr. GERVAIS: I am, but I'm only looking at her dead naked face.

SIMON: "Little Britain" and "Extras" are the two top contenders in next Wednesday's British Comedy Awards.

It's 22 minutes before the hour.

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