Pictured (left to right): Larry Rickard, Jim Howick, Mat Baynton, Ben Willbond, Martha Howe-Douglas, and Simon Farnaby.
Comedy comes in many forms, but my favourite form is created by the melding minds of Mat Baynton, Jim Howick, Larry Rickard, Ben Willbond, Martha Howe-Douglas, and Simon Farnaby, more commonly known as the cast of the fantastic Yonderland (as well as Horrible Histories and Bill).
Yonderland is a fantasy comedy series full of puppets and puns and quests (seriously, so many quests). Whilst it can definitely be enjoyed by families, some visual and verbal gags have a more mature edge to them all the while carrying the same lighthearted vibe.
of Maddox is a wife and a mum of two from Selly Oak, Birmingham, but she also doubles up as The Chosen One, born with a destiny to save Yonderland from the dark forces that threaten to claim the land. She is brave, kind, smart, strong, and shows everyone in Yonderland a thing or two, leaving the place awestruck in her wake. Together with Elf and Nick the Stick, and with (not much) wisdom from the Elders, they embark upon adventures full of twists, turns, and extremely eccentric and quirky characters.
If you’ve seen Horrible Histories, you’ll know how this band of six can morph themselves into anyone (or anything) and it’s the same, if not better, with Yonderland. You have the Elders with their unique personalities, putting the gang together and allowing them to bounce their performances off one another’s. There’s the Crone, played so hilariously by Jim Howick you’ll forget he’s not actually an old hag with bunions, a beak nose, and a distinct voice that’ll have you laughing as you try to imitate it alone in your bedroom. (I’ve tried, it’s yet to be mastered.) The Ninnies and their fascinating lack of intelligence… The list goes on, the series spilling over with characters you’ll fall in love with.
The Idiots also manage to slip in pop culture references that are so perfect, such as a news reporter opening with the line:”I’m Huey Lewis and this is the news,” or a stall named, “Sean’s Beans”, and two performers introduced as “Michael Jack’s Son” and “Mad Donna”. Little gems like these are littered throughout Yonderland.
This is a show to watch when you’re sad, when you’re happy, when you want to escape into a world of pure ridiculousness, when you’re bored, when you should be doing anything but watching it. There’s never an imperfect time to sit back and let this wonderful world of incompetent villains and unlikely heroes consume you.
What really sets Yonderland apart from the other shows I watch is the sense of warmth and giddiness I get with it. It’s childlike and silly but has elements deliberately meant for older viewers, a perfect mix of humour that’s accessible and loved by all ages. The puppets remind me of being a kid and loving Labyrinth, and it feels more organic that the use of special effects is minimal. It’s old-school and dorky and it works. Whenever I re-watch this magical series, I’m welcomed back with recurring jokes that never fail to make me laugh and these six goons playing fool after fool in a nonsensical universe.
With two wacky seasons in the bag on Sky One and another on the way soon, I implore you to give it a try, even if it’s not your usual cup of tea. I guarantee you’ll take something away from it you love, be it a catchphrase, character, or a crush on Larry Rickard…
…That last one might just be me, actually.