Alas, Mel Smith

If you’re my age, you might remember Not the Nine O’Clock News and Alas Smith and Jones with some fondness. After Mel Smith’s sudden death – at just 60 – was announced yesterday, various of his great sketches went around the internet, including the wonderful one above (“It’s a whoop, Professor! A whoop of gorillas! It’s a flange of baboons, for God’s sake”) and his lovely talking-head duologues with Griff Rhys Jones.

But my own favourite was his performance in The Misadventures of Mr Wilt, an adaptation of the Tom Sharpe novel. Smith played a bungling detective opposite Jones in the title role. Infuriatingly I can’t find video of it anywhere, apart from the trailer and this scene in which Smith plays no part. But it’s dark and funny and horrible, both Smith and Jones are brilliant in it, and I recommend it wholeheartedly: not least for this little bit of dialogue, when Smith’s policeman interrogates Jones’s Wilt:

Policeman: Are you inferring I’m an idiot?
Wilt: No, I’m implying you’re an idiot. You see, the listener infers, the speaker implies.

Anyway. RIP, Mel. Thanks for everything.

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