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Everyone has their favourite TV programme, be it a comedy, drama or musical. One of my favourite programmes has to be Bottom, particularly as it brings back fond memories from my university days. The programme brought together British actors Rick Mayall and Ade Edmondson for the second time. Comedy fans will know that the pair starred in The Young Ones in the early seventies. Since then they have kept in touch, and are indeed very good friends. When I heard about the DVD release of Bottom, I was left excited but also slightly disappointed. The programme only ran for three series, so I was hoping that the whole lot would be included in one boxset. Sadly that was not to be, and the BBC decided to release a ‘Very Best of’ DVD. Read on to find out more.

Very Best Of Bottom, The
Let me introduce you to the two main characters in Bottom. Richard Richard (Rik Mayall) and Eddie Hitler (Adrian Edmonson) are flatmates who share a grotty flat. The pair are anti-social slobs, who have probably have never cleaned their flat. They spend most of their time moaning about their uneventful sex lives. Occasionally they also find the time to insult and injure one another. The idea behind the shows came from the two stars themselves, who wrote the episodes together. Altogether there are eighteen episodes of Bottom which span over three series. The series were broadcast by the BBC between 1991 and 1995. A stage show (which ran for three productions) was also created by Mayall and Edmonson, and sold out in all theatres. This disc covers what the BBC consider to be the best episodes.

Episode 1: Smells
This is a good episode to introduce people to Richie and Eddie. The pair are desperate to meet women. Everywhere they look, couples are kissing and cuddling. Eddie thinks this is extremely unfair, and doesn’t understand why men will not share their woman with him. The pair get so desperate that they resort to the local ads in the newspapers. This is where they see an advert for a sort of wonder-spray called ‘Pheromone Sex Scent’, which guarantees success with the women. So off Richie and Eddie go to the local sex shop to buy some of the spray. Armed with it they then head for their local pub, confident that they will get lucky!

Very Best Of Bottom, The
Episode 2 : Accident
Another year has passed, and Richie’s still received birthday cards from celebrities. Well, if you believe him that is! Its Richie’s birthday and he is planning a super duper party. The only problem is that no one has confirmed their intention to come. While putting up decorations for the party, Richie manages to fall off his chair and nastily injures his leg. Rushed to hospital, he starts to wonder if his birthday is going to be a complete disaster. Things get a little better when Spudgun, and Dave hedgehog, two of Eddie’s friends, turn up for the party. Excited by the arrival of his guests, Richie sets about organising games for the group to play. Could this be Richie’s best birthday yet?

Episode 3 : Digger
Richie and Eddie decide that their best option for finding women is to use a dating agency.  They join an agency called ‘Lily Linneker’s Love Bureau’ and create a video which hopefully will attract the opposite sex. Richie pretends he is royalty and gets matched up with the countess of Moldovia. He persuades Eddie to be his butler, and invites the countess to his pad! Will Richie finally get lucky or will the countess smell a rat?

Episode 4 : Holy
Its Christmas and Richie and Eddie are like little excited school boys. The episode starts off with Richie dressing as Santa Claus, and a funny little sketch. Excited by the time of year, Richie and Eddie unwrap their presents. They then start planning a special dinner for friends. The usual suspects, Spudgun and Dave Hedgehog turn up, but that is not the end of the guests! A baby is left on their doorstep, which Richie thinks is Baby Jesus. Is this really the second coming or a simple mistake? This episode is supposed to be extended by five minutes for the DVD. While the running time is certainly much longer than the other episodes, I must admit that I didn’t recognise the extra footage.

Very Best Of Bottom, The
Episode 5 : Hole
This is the first episode in series three, and in my opinion one of the best. It is set on a ferris wheel, which Richie and Eddie have managed to get stuck on. The fairground closes with the pair still on the ride. Not much actually happens in this episode, but the jokes are free flowing. Unfortunately someone decided to include some very annoying laughter noises in this episode, so after every joke we get some piercing laughter. This somewhat spoils the episode.

The episodes on this disc are all presented with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full screen, which is how they were originally broadcast on BBC2. I can remember watching the broadcast originally and would say that the episodes on this DVD are slightly better. They are certainly a big improvement on my old VHS versions. Bottom has never looked so good - the transfer is as good as you could expect. Detail and sharpness are spot-on, while the colours are near perfect. Most of the episodes are shot in Richie’s dull flat, so expect dull and subdued colours. Black levels are however strong.  There was no sign of MPEG artefacts, and edge enhancements were also nowhere to be seen. Grain levels are also kept to a minimum, which insures that overall this is an impressive transfer.

As with most BBC releases the disc has an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. Anyone who has read my previous reviews of BBC discs will probably notice that I am repeating myself when I say that the soundtrack is perfectly adequate. The BBC are renowned for delivering solid, but mundane audio for DVDs. The limited channels do not spoil the presentation, and if anything this centres attention on the presentation. Dialogue is clear and audible at all times. There are also no sync problems. As expected there is no need for the subwoofer. Overall this is another perfectly acceptable soundtrack from the BBC.

Very Best Of Bottom, The
The only extra supplied with this disc is a photo gallery. We are provided with sixteen photographs, which were all taken during filming of the episodes. The cover for this release also mentions the extra five minutes contained in the Holy episode, but I have mentioned that above and so won’t cover it here. One thing that can be said about BBC releases is that they are predictable. This region four DVD is identical to the region two version, so it came as no great surprise to find a lack of extras. The BBC pride themselves on providing excellent quality with the episodes, so I suppose we should not complain when they fail to deliver with extras.

Even though I hadn’t watched any Bottom episodes for about six months, the magic is still there. If you like crude comedies then give this disc a try. On form there are not many funnier characters than Richie and Eddie. Bottom is a prime example of British humour of the 90s, and this disc shows some of the best episodes. The BBC have once again provided a great transfer and passable audio. Extras are limited, but we are coming to expect it from them now. As long as the BBC keep supplying first class transfers then I am not going to complain. Maybe not the release that us fans were hoping for, but for any casual comedy fans, this release provides a good starter.