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You Know You're Over 40 When... The First Comic Relief Single Rocked Your World

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LIVIN DOLL YOUNG ONES

In 1985, Comic Relief was born. The beautiful, bouncing child of Richard Curtis and Lenny Henry, it came into the world kicking and screaming... and in 1988, it started wearing a red nose.

And between these two events - the launch of the charity and its first Red Nose Day in February 1988 - came the release of the very first Comic Relief single, in 1986.

It was Living Doll by Cliff Richard and The Young Ones - and I thought I died and gone to heaven.

livin doll young ones



I was 15 at the time, and Living Doll was the first 12" single I'd ever bought. In fact, if my memory serves me correctly, it was only the third 12" single to grace the Mann family home. The first being Lionel Richie's All Night Long (a classy choice by my older sister) and the second being Band Aid's Do They Know It's Christmas? (again, my older sister's purchase), which was the 12" single bought by people who never normally bought 12" singles. In fact, Do They Know It's Christmas? was the sort of record bought by people who didn't normally buy records. Why? Because it was for A Good Cause. Also: everyone else was buying it.



But both of these records paled into insignificance as I sat on the top deck of the bus coming home from Wolverhampton that Saturday afternoon in April 1986. I proudly took my 12" Young Ones single out of its HMV bag and pored over every last word on its front and back covers - making sure that I was doing so publicly enough for people to be able to spot both (a) my excellent taste in comedy and (b) my clearly charitable nature.

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I had been a Young Ones fan since it started in 1982 - taping every episode (on Betamax tapes - don't ask), knowing whole exchanges from it off by heart, and even writing to Rik Mayall to ask for his autograph - which he kindly sent, signed on the back of a Young Ones photograph. It felt like the first comedy show I could truly call my own: not one which I shared with my parents (like Cheers or M*A*S*H, or even Not The Nine O'Clock News) or one that I'd inherited from a previous generation (like Monty Python or The Goons). No: The Young Ones belonged to me... and my brother and sister, and our friends at school. And I lapped up every last word of it, and every performance by its four main cast members.

Which is why their reappearance for the Comic Relief single - two years after the final episode of The Young Ones had aired - was all that sweeter. And it was sweet - even if it did include the clearly necessary presence of Cliff Richard. Cliff had been a running joke throughout the series, of course, due to Rick's devotion to him - and while I had always giggled at that (because I adored Rick/Rik), I think I was too young to fully 'get' the joke. Because I was simply to young to appreciate Cliff Richard - or at least too young to appreciate his place in popular culture and thus exactly why Rick's adoration of him would make older people (those of the generation who were actually making The Young Ones, say) laugh so much.

But back to the single. All 12 inches of it.

Re-listening to it - and re-watching the video - now, it all comes flooding back. From Rick's introduction (which includes mentions of Keith Chegwin and snogging - things don't get more British and mid-'80s than that), to The Young Ones' backing vocal "Get down!", right through to Rick's final "utter, utter, utter, UTTER..."- every one of these moments, and those in between them, are engrained on my memory.

To paraphrase Rick: it was utter, utter, utter, utter, utter... silliness and brilliance, and my little 15-year-old heart soared at it all:

It also soared at the B-side - which gave all us Young Ones devotees a brand new scene to listen to on loop (and thus subconsciously learn by heart, I now realise as I listen to it 27 years later):

There have been memorable Comic Relief singles since, of course (chiefly Westlife's Uptown Girl, for all the wrong reasons). And I'm sure that 15 year-old girls this year will be just as excited to be listening to One Directon's cover of One Way Or Another.

But nothing - nothing - will ever beat sitting on the top deck of a bus coming back from Wolverhampton clutching that 12" Young Ones single. Except perhaps putting it on repeated play when I got back home.



Andrea Mann is Comedy Editor of The Huffington Post UK and writes the blog 'You Know You're Over 40 When...'.

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