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'I can't believe you just said that': Figuring gender and sexuality in Little Britain

  • Deborah Finding
  • Gender Institute, London School of Economics, UK


This paper offers a feminist critique of the UK comedy sketch show Little Britain. The first part of the paper situates Little Britain in the context of both alternative comedy and postfeminism, with particular reference to the use of irony as a 'get out of jail free' card for offensive statements or stereotypical representations of a particular group, and to the notion of humour as hatred. Some of the characters of Little Britain (Vicky Pollard, Ting Tong and Daffyd) are then considered in depth, through an engagement with figurative analysis, to assess their status as recognisable figures ('the chav mum', 'the mail order bride' and 'the gay man', respectively). Other notable figures are mentioned, and the show's creators, Matt Lucas and David Walliams, are also considered as potential figures. The paper concludes that, although there are parts of Little Britain in which stereotypes are challenged, and the abusive power dynamic is inverted through humour, for the most part, Little Britain colludes with prejudice by positing an 'us' - the audience, who callously mocks 'them' - figures representative of marginalised groups already vulnerable to harm.

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