List of Extras Episodes - When The Whistle Blows

See also: Characters of Extras#When the Whistle Blows

When the Whistle Blows is the show-within-a-show sitcom created, co-written by and starring Andy Millman. It was first mentioned in episode 1.3, as a script that Millman had written and given to his agent who neglected to read it. The script was turned into a sitcom on BBC One in the first series finale, after Millman gave the script to Patrick Stewart. Excerpts from the sitcom are featured in the second series, and many of the Extras plotlines have revolved around Millman's experiences with the show.

When the Whistle Blows is set in a Wigan factory canteen. The humour is broad and lowbrow in the manner of many catchphrase-based sitcoms. The main catchphrase of the show, "Are you 'avin' a laugh?," is spoken by Millman. The show is unpopular with reviewers but popular with the public. It does receive a BAFTA nomination, although Millman suspects it is there simply to make up the numbers, and in the end it loses to an unspecified programme by Stephen Fry.

Millman is deeply unhappy with the show, feeling that too many people have interfered with his original ideas in the hunt for ratings. It appears that Millman originally set out to do a comedy similar to The Office, with true-to-life characters in a realistic work environment, without a studio audience or laughter track. The show has turned out to be the opposite of what he originally intended. The show is further debased by the unexplained guest appearance by Chris Martin of Coldplay, in episode 2.4, which bears no relation to the plot.

The presence of studio audiences/canned laughter, and the reliance on funny wigs, costumes and catchphrases for humour is a comment on recent comedy hits such as Little Britain. Many people that Millman sees at the recording of the pilot wear T-shirts displaying recent comedy catchphrases, such as "Wassup", "It's Chico Time", "I'm a lady!", "Am I bovvered?" and "Garlic bread?." (These shirts are not shown in the US version of Extras.) Some of the reviews that the show gets refer to it as a "time warp comedy", and Millman's character talks about 1970s catchphrases such as Mr Humphreys' "I'm Free" (from Are You Being Served?) and Frank Spencer's "Ooh Betty" (from Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em), suggest that it is also partly sending up 1970s British comedy. In episode 2.5, Germaine Greer suggests that When the Whistle Blows is "sub Carry On".

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Famous quotes containing the word whistle:

    In Boston serpents whistle at the cold.
    Robert Lowell (1917–1977)