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Rag and funnybone

TRAGIC! The Curse of Steptoe, BBC Four, 9.00pm

The Curse of SteptoeThe idea of there being great sadness behind great comedy is not exactly a new one. but it does rather make you think. Will we be watching drama documentaries in twenty years time, telling us how Mitchell and Webb secretly hated each other? Behind the scenes recreations recounting how all of the sketches in Little Miss Jocelyn were created in a haze of drink and drugs? A hard-hitting documentary pointing out how Ricky Gervais really wasn't very funny, The Office aside? Actually, we'd probably quite enjoy that last one.

Anyway, in the lack of any hard factual evidence to back up any of our above assertions (although this being the internet, facts are always secondary to a good old-fashioned rumour, aren't they?), for the time being we're making do with BBC Four's series of dramas focusing on some tragic stories of comedy legends that do have a basis in reality, kicking off tonight with Steptoe and Son, exploring the fraught relationship between the show's stars in real life.

In some alarmingly good casting, Jason Isaacs is Harry H. Corbett and Phil Davis is Wilfrid Brambell, and perhaps we're just a little overtired, but there were points where we looked at the promo pictures and couldn't tell if they were from the drama or the original series. Also noteworthy in the casting department is Torchwood's Burn Gorman as Ray Galton, one half of the legendary writing partnership Galton & Simpson. Frankly, if watching the show is even half as exciting as reading the cast list, we're going to need to watch it lying in a darkened room with a chilled eye mask and some soothing music playing in the background.

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According to Marxist theory, cultural forms such as opera, classical music and the literary works of Shakespeare all fall under the heading of high culture. Low culture refers to a wide variety of cultural themes that are characterised by their consumption by the masses. We might not be Marxists, but we do know we loved Footballers Wives. If you do too, you'll know what this is all about.

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