Man Vs Bee And Other Great Works By David Kerr

Man Vs Bee And Other Great Works By David Kerr

Last month’s Man Vs Bee, co-written and starring the legendary Rowan Atkinson, has proven to be a hit with fans, and viewers that have finished it may be looking for more of director David Kerr’s hilarious works of British entertainment.

The BAFTA-winner has taken the director’s seat of several British TV classics and is particularly notable for directing pilot episodes that led several series to be the recognized names they still are. He’s also worked with a who’s-who of famous comedians and writers in the country. Though Kerr’s projects are varied, there’s something in each of them for Man Vs Bee fans looking for more laughs.

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7 Man Vs Bee

Released in June of this year, Man Vs Bee accrued generally positive reviews and reached the top 10 on British Netflix. The original comedy follows Trevor Bingley (Rowan Atkinson) struggling to dispatch a bee during his job as a house-sitter. Atkinson is the obvious draw of the show, bringing the humorous expressions that made him a British household name in his expressive performance as Mr. Bean.

Related: 10 British TV Comedy Series From The Last 10 Years

Man Vs Bee shows the inspirations of its British comedy predecessors and even from animated slapstick like Tom & Jerry. Its satire strikes at showing the absurd in the mundane and points out the disparity and awkwardness in the communications between social classes. From the very first episode, it’s as if Mr. Bean himself was back and house-sitting, overreacting to his escalating mistakes.

6 Fresh Meat

Students sit through a lecture in Fresh Meat

Across its four seasons, Kerr acted as the director for the first three episodes of season one and the first four episodes of season two. It’s a teen drama-comedy like The Inbetweeners, though Fresh Meat is the slightly more grounded of the two with a more diverse cast — though not as much as current teen dramas like Sex Education. The show primarily follows Kingsley Owen (Joe Thomas) and Josie Jones (Kimberly Nixon). The two share housing with ‘J.P.’ (Jack Whitehall), ‘Vod’ (Zawe Ashton), ‘Oregon’ (Charlotte Ritchie), and Howard McGregor (Gregg McHugh) while attending a university in Manchester.

The fourth episode of season two — focused on a study party in J.P.’s country house — is the third highest-rated episode on IMDB, and is seen as one of the best British comedies in the last ten years. Written by Richard Pinto and Penelope Skinner, the characterization of J.P. and his friendship with Vod on the stairs of his home was a particular standout. Oregon’s subplot to counter the Twitter backlash against her actions in previous episodes, then the realization of her internalized homophobia leads to some hilarious moments. It’s one of the more dramatic works with Kerr at the helm, but appropriately for the genre.

5 As If

The cast of the show As If.

Though its rarely discussed in the public consensus of British Television, As If was a critical success that ran four seasons alongside the still-running Hollyoaks. The show isn’t widely available anymore, but many of its elements are carried onto shows like Fresh Meat and other British teen dramas.

Related: The Best Ongoing Dark Comedy Shows

The show is dated, though not as some may expect. Dramatic zoom-ins, constant shaky cam, odd editing choices, and loud and sometimes sudden cuts to music as loud as the dialogue will play. Still, the story itself is captivating throughout with the structure following a different character’s perspective every episode. Special recognition should also be given to Alex (Orlando Wells), a homosexual male teen with a few sweet relationships during the course of the show — a rarer sight to see in 2001.

4 That Mitchell and Webb Look

The main characters from That Mitchell and Webb Look looking at the camera.

As a series of sketches on the BBC, the original show — The Mitchell And Webb Situation — was pivotal in starting the television careers of David Mitchell and Robert Webb, who then proceeded to star in the classic British sitcom Peep Show and the follow-up series of sketches That Mitchell And Webb Look. Kerr directed the first two seasons.

The BAFTA-winning series initially premiered on BBC Radio 4 in 2003 before it was adapted and expanded upon as the 2008 TV show with the help of David Kerr. It should be warned that the first episode contains the use of a burqua and blackface as a way to criticize comedians who use offensive humor, which is unacceptable even with the intentions. The rest is a charming series of gags, many of which exaggerate the dynamics of show hosts. In its most famous sketch, Mitchell and Webb play Nazi soldiers, with Mitchell turning to Webb to point out the skull badges on their hats and asking “Are we the baddies?” which became a popular clip and GIF online in the 2010s.

3 Johnny English Strikes Again

johnny english strikes again poster

Peter Howitt may have been the creator of the original Johnny English movie, but Johnny English Strikes Again was directed by David Kerr. Much like Austin Powers, the movies are a spoof of James Bond and other spy movies, following Rowan Atkinson as English does his best to appear as competent amidst its intentionally cringe humor.

Related: 10 Cringiest Scenes From The British Bake Off

This marks the first time Kerr made a feature-length movie and the first time Kerr worked with Atkinson on a project. Will Davies was also involved with the writing of all three movies and would then go on to write for Man Vs Bee. Though the second film was by no means a critical success (the entire trilogy received mediocre reviews), it performed well at the box office, grossing over 160 million worldwide on a budget of 45 million. Much of the humor relies on the same awkwardness and absurdity that the Netflix Bee-fighting show would then employ, making it a natural next step on the binge list.

2 Inside No. 9 – Season 1

the cast of Inside No.9 fighting over a restaurant bill

While later seasons of Inside No. 9 would switch directors each episode, Kerr remained director for the entirety of the first season, with Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton as writers and lead actors. The season won the award for Best TV Comedy Drama in 2014 from Comedy.co.uk (Fresh Meat was also nominated that year) and several other awards and was nominated at the British Comedy Awards. Each episode has a different premise but all are usually focused on dark comedy — fans of Black Mirror’s best episodes are sure to find something to like here.

Of the original six episodes, ‘A Quiet Night In’ was one of the more praised. Like Man Vs Bee, it featured a group of robbers silently trying to steal a work of art to classical and other music. It has aged, however; one moment in particular plays on the shock humor of a character not being a cisgender woman, not to mention ‘Tom And Gerri’ was criticized at the time for its insensitive portrayal of mental health. From a directing standpoint, it still has excellent cinematography, with its best jokes playing on items in the background and foreground.

1 Inside No. 9 – ‘Zanzibar’

The cast of Inside No. 9 posing for a photo.

David Kerr returned to the show with season four in an episode that earned it praise for being one of the most refreshing and generally liked in the series. ‘Zanzibar’ took place on the ninth floor of a prestigious hotel and had its characters speak in iambic pentameter. Shearsmith and Pemberton are part of the cast as usual, but the star of the show is Rory Kinnear, who plays two different roles as identical twins who didn’t know each other.

Characters often talk in soliloquy or occasionally in monologues that break the fourth wall to address the audience, purposely replicating the storytelling devices as theatre, as well as resembling it in its plot of royalty and betrayal. Jaygann Ayeh also pulls a fantastic performance as Fred the waiter, who often acts as a narrator to the events in a delightful performance, aided by brilliant tracking shots. In fact, the camera does a lot with the narrow hallway and will often linger on the actors for them to shine with their character acting.

NEXT: 10 Comedies Like Man Vs Bee

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About The Author

Kevin Farnan
(7 Articles Published)

Kevin Brandon Farnan (He/Him) is a Movie/TV list writer for Screen Rant and a former freelance writer for That’s TV Salford in the UK. After graduating in Multimedia Journalism at Bournemouth University in 2016, Brandon’s taken a number of opportunities to write and present for local radio stations and newspapers. He’s established himself in writing articles predominantly on LGBTQ+ issues (especially the rights of transgender people) and mental health.

When he isn’t obsessing over the latest shows, Brandon will talk about current events or what is secretly his biggest obsession: E-Sports in the fighting game community. Growing up, Ace Attorney and being a fighting game spectator was Brandon’s lifeblood. Nowadays, he’s happy to tell people what they should think in his cozy corner of Screen Rant, or occasionally on Medium: https://medium.com/@brandonfarnan

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