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DVD Review

DVD cover

A Bear’s Tail


Starring: Leigh Francis, Patsy Kensit and Sean Pertwee
Distributor: Fabulous Films
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 25 May 2015

From Leigh Francis, the creator and star of Bo’ Selecta!, Celebrity Juice and The Keith Lemon Sketch Show, comes a new breed of sitcom, wonderfully crafted on this beautiful DVD! It stars a sexually aroused, foul-mouthed bear who gets an erection at the drop of a hat, who gets adopted by the Hennerson family – played by Patsy Kensit and Sean Pertwee. Featuring appearances by Keith Lemon, the Osbournes, Dexter Fletcher, Davina McCall as the Hennersons’ transsexual neighbour Dave and loads of other great actors from the world of acting, this right funny sitcom about a bear living with a family makes the ideal gift for yourself or a friend who loves right funny sitcoms about bears that live with families…!

The work of comedian Leigh Francis is not to everyone’s taste, but if you enjoyed his appearances in Bo’ Selecta!, Celebrity Juice and The Keith Lemon Sketch Show, then the chances are that you will get something out of this. After three series of Bo’ Selecta!, the programme-makers wanted to try something different, and Francis wanted to spend less time wearing uncomfortable masks, so they took the character of the libidinous, potty-mouthed Bear and gave him his own sitcom.

For me, Francis’s creations work better in a sketch format than in a narrative one – which is why I prefer The Keith Lemon Sketch Show to his mock-doc Lemon La Vida Loca. There are plenty of moments that flag during A Bear’s Tail, such as the interminable rows between the self-centred Bear (Francis) and his sulky teenage ‘sister’ Lillian (Yasmin Kerr) and a puerile family bonding trip during which the Hennersons do what bears do in the woods.

Fortunately, the production team knew better than to alienate the devoted fans of Bo’ Selecta!, several popular characters from which appear in sketches via the Hennersons’ television set – or on one occasion a cinema screen showing the Star Wars spoof The Empire Strikes Black. These characters include Avid Merrion (who is now presenting a low-budget Eastern European magazine programme with his wife and sister Sacha, played by Barunka O’Shaughnessy), Craig David (with his faithful kestrel Kes), Michael Jackson (“Shamone!”), the nasally challenged puppet Cocknose, and my personal favourite, the Jim Bowen soundalike Mel B (“Yer fookin’ bastard yer!”)

New characters played by Francis include the passive-aggressive Scottish transsexual Sue Dales and the Indian film buff Corey Haim (“It’s got action, comedy, romance…”), and this series is also where the character of Keith Lemon (then pronounced to rhyme with Le Bon) first came to the fore.

What is perhaps most remarkable about this show is the number of prestigious guest stars they managed to lure on board. The regulars include Patsy Kensit (a veteran of Bo’ Selecta!) as Helena Hennerson, Sean Pertwee as her fiancé Richard Head, Dexter Fletcher as the writer who lives under the stairs, and a truly impressive turn by Davina McCall as the transsexual Dave Ian McCall, lover of Sue Dales. As a man, McCall looks uncannily like David Tennant! Cameo appearances are put in by Eamonn Holmes, Dermot O’Leary, Katie Price, Jodie Marsh, Matthew Wright and the real Mel C – all of whom, terrific sports that they are, would reappear in Celebrity Juice – as well as Russell Brand, Bob Mortimer, Doon Mackichan, Harry Hill, Alexei Sayle and all four members of the Osbourne family.

How did they manage to get all of them? It might have something to do with the fact that this was clearly a very enjoyable show to work on. This is evident from the out-takes shown in each episode’s end credits and various behind-the-scenes features presented on the second of the two discs in this collection.

The first disc includes all six 25-minute episodes from the show’s main run in July to August 2005. The second contains the Christmas special from the previous December (so watch this first) and a range of other features. Chief among these is Bear-hind the Scenes, a 50-minute making-of documentary. It is quite touching in this to see how awkward Francis is when trying to be himself rather than play a character. This is probably why he hides behind his Keith Lemon persona in the shorter featurette, Lemony Snippets. There are also deleted scenes, out-takes (some of which you will have already seen in the episodic end credits), the music video to the theme tune by Loudmouth Soup, an interactive movie quiz featuring Corey Haim, concept drawings, and trailers – lots of trailers, about 20 minutes of them.

This is not Leigh Francis’s finest work, but there is still plenty of fun to be had, especially if you have a drink or two while watching it.


Richard McGinlay

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