Wigan artist Anna FC Smith examines Harry Hill's TV Burp

Harry Hill by Anna FC Smith
Image caption The Wigan artist's Harry Hill works include watercolours and sculptures

Harry Hill's TV Burp programme won the comedian awards and plaudits during its 11 year run.

An anarchic blend of clips, sketches and guest appearances, it garnered huge audience figures and made the funnyman a household name.

For Wigan artist Anna FC Smith though, it was much more than a Saturday night TV show - it was "a new form of the old traditions of festival".

She says the idea of looking at Hill's show in this way came to her while she was studying for her degree.

"I had been studying medieval carnival since my final year and had been watching the Paul O'Grady teatime show, as I felt it had strong connections with music hall which itself was a direct descendant of carnival.

"One Sunday, a friend of mine suggested that we watched TV Burp, as I'd never seen it before.

"On this first watching, all my historical research came crashing together and was being enacted on screen.

"I could not believe how concise the re-enactment was to the more ancient elements of folk rituals and revelry.

"If we look at these historical phenomena though a contemporary show such as TV Burp, we are given an anchor in which to understand them, a reference point which is familiar."

'Completely new and eye-opening'

That revelation led her to "set about attempting to document and interpret" the show and eventually create BURPology, a collection of paintings and sculptures which re-examines the show and delves into its cultural heart.

She says by doing that, it can be seen "how similar we are to our ancestors and how traditions considered completely lost have actually continued in a different form".

Image caption Smith said TV Burp writers Dan Maier and David Quantick had praised her work

"For all its ills, TV itself in the context of my show acts as the village square where people meet to mock their idols and to laugh together."

She says she is "not sure what Harry makes of the exhibition", which has previously shown in London, but said two of the show's writers did give her some feedback.

"Dan Maier and David Quantick attended the opening and they were much taken by the thimbles.

"They seemed to really enjoy the show and spoke of how Harry was aware of some of the old methods of the humour but that a lot of the links [I had made] were completely new and eye-opening."

She says the comedian had mentioned her work in a newspaper interview, but had not been in touch about it.

However, she is sure he would like it if he saw it.

"I can't claim to know the man - though I have drawn him and moulded his face out of toilet paper many times now - but from his hobby as an artist and the nature of his humour, I can imagine he would enjoy the exhibition."

BURPology - Harry Hill's TV Burp as Carnival is at 32 Mesnes Street, Wigan until 12 May.

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