The Slammer - Overview


The Slammer is a fictitious prison for entertainers who have "committed crimes against show business"; the people are given the chance to earn their freedom by performing to a jury of children in the "Freedom Show".

The opening titles introduce the show's format, showing entertainers' acts going wrong (e.g. a ventriloquist who accidentally throws his puppet off his arm, and tap-dancers who all trip over one another), their incarceration (including synchronised rock-breaking by the pick-axe-armed sequined tap-dancers), "polishing up their act" and performing to an audience of 8-12 year olds. The lyrics describe this process and the titles conclude with the line of released tap-dancers shimmying out of the prison gate.

The Slammer is headed by "The Governor" played by comedian Ted Robbins. The Governor always wears a white suit with a golden bow tie, and fulfills his duties by hosting the Freedom Show and occasionally quizzing audience members about their views on the "Performing Prisoners".

Supporting the Governor are prison wardens Mr. Burgess, played by Ian Kirkby, and the Governor's nephew, Jeremy Gimbert played by Lee Barnett. The characters are complete opposites to one another: Mr. Burgess is intelligent, trustworthy and follows procedure and instructions carefully, accompanied by the physical mannerisms of Porridge's Mr Mackay. Gimbert is not the sharpest tool in the box and Mr. Burgess's frustration with his colleague's stupidity is often obvious.

Dave Chapman returns from da Bungalow to play new character Peter Nokio, a long term resident of The Slammer. He is a poor ventriloquist (his mouth moves when the puppet is speaking), having several puppets (including Titch, Alistair and Cheeky Charlie) which he keeps personified at all times, allowing the puppets to make rude comments and often tell the truth when Peter is telling a lie.

Peter's cell-mate Melvin Odoom (played by Melvin Odoom) is a former dancer whose act once went badly wrong in front of "none other than the Queen" at the Royal Variety Performance, resulting in him suffering from seemingly incurable stage-fright.

The show begins with 5–10 minutes of storyline with these characters, often introducing celebrity guests who may play themselves or assume characters. Keith Harris and Orville once starred in a story where a performance had gone so badly that they froze and were taken to the Slammer; the supporting cast managed to revive them and they performed later in the show.

After this, the performances begin. In-between each performance, the Governor and Mr. Burgess ask a few children on their thoughts. Traditionally Mr. Burgess asks a child to sum up the act with one word, before shouting it back to the Governor, addressing him as 'Sah!' ('sir' in a military fashion). This is often found amusing and has let to children frequently combining adjectives such as 'brilliant' and 'fantastic' to make words like 'brillitastic', to which Mr. Burgess would then shout "Brillitastic, Sah!"

Sometimes the stories are continued into the performance section. Between acts the television audience cut away to very short segments of the stories. This usually is done to create tension on stories where one of the prisoners is being devious (a prisoner is trying to escape while the guards are distracted by the Freedom Show for example).

Four acts perform each episode, and the act who gets the most support through applause and cheering (measured by a clap-o-meter when a vote is taken at the end of the show) is released.

Series 3 introduced a new item called "solitary confinement" It's the part of the show where they keep the bad Performers in Solitary confinement for their bad performances throughout the years and can not be in Solitary, what happens is a Child judge will see the act and when it ends he/she decides thumbs up or thumbs down and if the Performing prisoner do well and get a thumbs up and get a cell upgrade or a Treat. but if they do badly and get a thumb's down and back into Solitary confinement for a Punishment.

Read more about this topic:  The Slammer

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