Which Was Nice...

The Strange and Implausible Exploits of Patrick Nice

 "...and so, they put up a webpage entirely in my honour.  Which was nice." 

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 “Patrick Nice…Nick Coleman was talking to me about sort of middle-aged actors who say “Then I did a telly…which was nice.” And I just said, “I’m nicking that, mate. I’m having that catchphrase.” But then he turned into a bit of an Aldridge Prior, you know. He just lied. Or did he?”
Mark Williams, “Suits You Sir!: The Inside Leg”

 

I have to love Patrick Nice. Why? To tell you the truth, I’ve never quite been able to put my finger on it. When I first watched the Fast Show as a casual viewer throughout the latter half of the 90s, I barely noticed him at all, possibly due to the fleeting nature of his scenes and my then very fickle attention span. When I later rediscovered the show and became absolutely hooked on it, his sketches caught my attention precisely because of their brief and rather ambiguous nature. There was something about the character which I found both strange and fascinating, as well as deeply funny, and Mark Williams’ tone and delivery for every single one of his outlandish statements was absolutely brilliant.

Patrick Nice was introduced to the Fast Show in the first episode of Series Two, and made appearences in the overwhelming majority of episodes from then on. As Williams explains, Patrick is ostensibly an actor, or at least modelled upon a particular actor stereotype, though in Series 4, better known as "The Last Fast Show Ever", he is portrayed upon the job as a professional photographer (no reason why he can't be both, I suppose).  His routine essentially involved his recounting, in eerily nonchalant tones, and usually from the setting of his suburban kitchen or garden greenhouse, to the viewer of his innumerable incredible exploits…and incredible exploits they certainly are. If Patrick’s testimony is to be trusted, then he’s done everything from finding a cure for cancer to discovering the original copy of the Bible in his attic. While common sense dictates that his various claims are nothing more than outrageous fibs, as Williams points out in the above quote, we the viewers were never given any genuine means of proving him otherwise. Patrick is certainly a tough character to crack and, whatever façade he was presumably attempting to pull for all those years, he held the mask up well. Hard to say whether he’s a lonely attention-seeker, a la Colin Hunt (though he claims to have a healthy relationship with his wife Louise, and to always be surrounded by various celebrity chums, something which has always penetrated the mood of his sketches for me is his very visible isolation - he is never seen interacting with anybody but the viewers, and there exists only one sketch in which another person is in sight), mentally unbalanced (and there is arguably something fairly unsettling about the nature of his sketches), extremely conceited and full of himself, as Keith Dewhurst suggests in his essay, The Fast Show - A Personal View (which can be found in the accompanying booklet to the Ultimate Collection DVD set, and in which he interprets our hero as being a send-up of “affluent smugness”), or simply a very lucky and remarkable man who knows how to conduct himself within the wake of something extraordinary. We’ll never know for sure. But regardless, there is one truly remarkable achievement which nobody can possibly discredit him of, and that is that he single-handedly succeeded in taking one of the most banal and commonplace statements imaginable - "Which was nice" - and injecting it with oodles of fresh new vigour and endearment.  I always get a warm, knowing sensation inside whenever I hear anybody use that phrase, and I have Patrick to thank for it.

I threw this website together having noticed a general paucity of Fast Show related fansites here upon the world wide web. I'm afraid that I really don’t have the time nor the energy to assemble anything bigger or more general than a miniature shrine to my own personal favourite character, and even then I find myself lacking the expertise to do anything terribly spectacular, though with any luck anyone who happens to stumble across this will get something out of it.  I do, however, strongly caution anyone not familiar with the character and his particular shtick to go back and watch a few episodes of the show before reading any more, for I fear that without at least a sense of Williams’ immaculate delivery these lines would lose a lot of their impact and charm. This site is intended more for those already familiar with Mr. Nice and looking for a comprehensive listing of his various unlikely anecdotes and which episodes they were featured in, or perhaps a particular quotation. Hey, I would have been thrilled to have found such a place when I typed his name into a search engine, and I’d like to think I’m not the only one. Above all, I'd just fancied a little scrap of internet terriroty in which to express my immense appreciation for the man.  It matters not to me whether he's an entirely honest being within the midst of a highly varied and amazing existence, or a pathological liar of the most despicable order - either way, he's nothing short of awesome.  Of course, throughout four series and a small handful of specials, the Fast Show introduced us to lots of hilarious and endearing characters - Chris the Crafty Cockney, Johnny Nice Painter, Ted and Ralph, and the list goes on.  Got to give them all credit too, if not their own webpages.

And as for me - my given name is Rachael, though when online I usually go by the alias jekylljuice. If you have any comments or questions about this place, or simply want to put in a friendly word, then I’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to contact me at jekylljuice85@yahoo.co.uk.  Senseless flaming will be neither appreciated or reciprocated, so please don’t even bother. Take a lesson from our good friend Patrick, and be Nice.

 Series Two

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Episode One: 

"...and on the way back from the cove, within a hundred yards from each other, we saw Stevie Nicks and Helena Bonham Carter.  So we gave them both a lift on the back of the tractor.  Which was nice." 

 "...and our eldest son, Alexander, won the Nobel Chemistry Prize.  So we all went over to Stockholm, for the presentation, and R.E.M. did an impromptu concert.  Which was nice."

 

 Episode Two:

"...and we were in Harrods, buying guavas, and we saw Kevin Kline. And he gave me a lovely smile. Which was nice."

 "...and I was at university with Hugh Grant.  And so he lent us his cottage in Provence, and we just spent the whole week pottering about in his battered old mirror dinghy.  Which was nice."

 

Episode Three:

"...and the same six numbers came up for us again the following week.  So that was another three million pounds.  Which was nice."

 

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Episode Four:

"...Chandian's uncle died unexpectedly and left me all his yachts.  And then, Tamera came running from Somerset's house as fast as her little legs could carry her to tell me that I was a direct descendant of Kubla Khan.  Which was nice."

 Episode Five:

 "....and so, they named the hospital after me.  Which was nice."

"...and I was rummaging around in the attic, and I found the original copy of the Bible.  Which was nice."

 

 Episode Six:

 (Erm, maybe someone who can read lips can help me with this one.  In this particular sketch, Mr. Nice's cheerful little anecdote is largely drowned out by the whirring noises being made by his blender.  I have tried listening to it with the volume turned up high, but the only word I've really been able to decipher is "apologised", and even then I'm not 100% certain.  He does, however, hit the "off" button just in time for us to hear his usual catchphrase.)

 

Episode Seven: 

"...and unfortunately, I left my fingerprints all over the handle, so it looks like I'll be going down for fifteen years.  Which is a shame."

 

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 1996 Christmas Special

 

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 "...and then, at the very last moment, I let go of the 747's undercarriage and dropped onto the roof of the chasing police car, still holding the uranium.  Which was nice."

"...and then, I looked at the formula again, and I noticed that I'd put a decimal point in the wrong place.  So, I corrected it, and I realised that I really had found a cure for cancer.  Which was nice."

Series Three

 

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Episode One:

"...when I was a very small boy, one hot midsummer afternoon in the garden I was sitting very still in my play-tent, and something made me look up.  And I saw a hobgoblin, sitting in Daddy's wheelbarrow.  Which was nice." 

 

Episode Two: 

"...and Louise and I met at university, and it really was love at first sight. And we couldn't wait to get married, and then the children just sort of happened.  And we've been really lucky. I mean, we're still friends and lovers, even after fifteen years.  And last Tuesday, Louise had her first orgasm. Which was nice."

 

Episode Four:

 "...and I didn't realise that Delia Smith's microphone was on.  And the whole studio heard what I said.  Luckily, no one's gonna press charges, and the police only held me for seven hours.  Which was nice."

 

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Episode Six: 

“…and all my environmental proposals were accepted at the Earth Summit, by the Americans and the developing nations. Even though it was just an off-the-cuff remark about greenfly. Which was nice.” 

 

Episode Seven: 

“…and, yea, all the prophecies were fulfilled, and verily black was white, and all the rivers of the world ran with milk and honey and wine, and green were the valleys, and seraphim lauded the Allahim and the Nazarine on high, and death and war and pestilence and famine and hypocrisy and envy and greed were banished for all eternity.  Which was nice.”

 

Episode Eight:

"...and we were in Devon, and there's this little old lady who sells her garden produce on a table outside her house, and you leave the right money in a tin.  But unfortunately, I didn't have any change.  So we had it all for free.  Which was nice."

Series Four (The Last Fast Show Ever)

 

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Part One:

"...I was playing golf with Vinny Jones and Chesney Hawkes, and as we got to the fourteenth green, a tiny bunny rabbit popped out of the hole, and bade as all good morrow.  Which was nice."

Part Two:

"...I was sitting next to Jerry Springer watching Rugby at Twickenham, and he invited me to stay with him on the Riviera.  So, Lloyd Cole and I had a lovely flight down in his private jet to the airport that was nearest Jerry's villa. Which was Niece."

Part Three:

"...and the Aga Khan invited us to his youngest daughter's weddingin Monte Carlo.  Oswald Boeteng made me a marvellous suit.  And we all popped over on Andrew's catamara.  It was a wonderful ceremony and a beautiful reception.  And while we were posing for photographs, Damien Hirst shat in my pocket.  Which was nice."

This is notable for being the only Patrick Nice sketch in which our hero is seen within the presence of another human being.  Also in frame here is the backside of a nude model.

You Ain't Seen These, Right? (The Bastard Son of the Fast Show)

 

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A couple of Patrick Nice sketches which were filmed yet never made it into the final show (Why?!  They're both great!), but which finally saw the light of day in this wonderful special comprised of previously unseen footage.  Every Fast Show fan out there owes it to themselves to see it.

 

 "...and there was a knock at the door, and who should be standing there, but Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Tony and Cherie Blair.  And they wanted to borrow some sun-dried tomato paste and capers to make a sauce.  Luckily, I could oblige.  And later they sent me round some lovely raspberry balsamic vinegar to say thank you.  Which was nice."

 "...and I was asked to do the catering for the local Sealed Knot society.  So I decided to prepare an authentic 17th century menu.  But unbeknownst to me, the marinated pork was badly infected with E.coli, and I poisoned the entire New Model Army.  Which was awkward.  But I did stop them fighting.  Which was nice."

 

The Fast Show Live

  “…and on Christmas Eve, we went to a lovely drinks party at Ringo Starr’s Organic Butchers. But unfortunately someone handed me a glass of mulled wine that had been spiked with one of those new designer drugs. And I spent the twelve days of Christmas in a wild, hallucinatory coma, coupled with total bodily paralysis. But when I woke up, I had the biggest erection I’ve ever had in my life! Which was nice.”

 Unfortunately, I missed out on the comedy event of the 20th century, so most of my knowledge of the Fast Show Live comes from the CD version.  If there are any other PN sketches or variations, then by all means get in touch and let me know.

Miscellaneous

 

Holsten Pils Advertisement (1998)

"...and for the tie-breaker, I put "I love Holsten Pils because it's as pure and refreshing as an alpine stream".  And to my utter astonishment it became their new advertising slogan.  And it was so successful they made me sole proprietor of the entire Holsten brewery.  Which was nice."

Many thanks to uncannyrman for uploading the video to Youtube, otherwise this might have slipped me by.  I do remember those Fast Show-themed endorsements for Holsten Pils, but the only ones I actually recall seeing at the time were those featuring Ken and Kenneth, Jesse, and Chris the Crafty Cockney.  It was certainly a delight to discover that a Patrick Nice one had existed.  Also, I'm a little bit hazy to the exact year in which these were broadcast, it having pre-dated my own true-blue fondness for the Fast Show, but a couple of online sources I've come across have linked them to 1998.  If you disagree with that, feel free to get in touch with me.

 Shaggy Dog Story (1999) and Mammals verus Insects (2000)

 Shaggy Dog Story (first broadcast December 27th 1999) was part of a succession of promotional BBC short films put together in association with their annual Children In Need campaign, following in the footsteps of Perfect Day (1997) and Future Generations (1998).  It took the form of a rapid-fire montage featuring various comedic actors and characters from the channel's programming, each of whom contributed three or four phrases to the telling of a long-winded joke about a horse who convinces the captain of a floundering cricket team to recruit him, with most interesting results.  Amongst them was Mark Williams, in character as Patrick Nice.  Joining Patrick in the impressive line-up were his fellow Fast Show offspring Bob Fleming (Charlie Higson), Louis Balfour (John Thomson)  and the 13th Duke of Wybourne (Paul Whitehouse).

I'm aware that Patrick's contributions won't make a great deal of sense beyond the context of the film itself, and I really don't fancy having to transcribe the whole thing for the time being, but I'm going to list them anyway in the interests  of completism.  Does anyone mind?

 

"...the whole village turns out to support their team.  Which was nice."

"...and he sets off on his runner..."

"...and the horse looks up..."

 

 Mammals versus Insects (first broadcast 4th January 2000) was a shorter variation upon this same concept, featuring many of the same participants as before.  Patrick's sole contribution to this  story are the words, "twenty five goals".

Although both videoes can currently be found very easily on Youtube, I'm a little hesitant to link directly to them, given how susceptible things on that site are to being abruptly yanked.  If you want to see them, then simply typing the relevent words into the Youtube search engine should do the trick.

 

 In Praise of Mr. Williams

 Before I go, I think it’s only fair to put in a few words about Mark Williams, the marvellous man who gave life to Mr. Nice.

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 Mark was born 17th June 1959 in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, and later received his education at Brasenose College, Oxford University, where he studied English (yippie, a fellow literature student), before spending three years touring with the canal boat-based Mikron Theatre, and later falling in with Charlie, Paul and the gang and making comedy history.  Other characters upon his Fast Show repertoire included Kenneth, one of the programme’s two iconic “Suits You!” tailors, Jesse, who routinely greeted us with the details of his latest dietary or fashion adventures, and the much-suffering “I’ll Get Me Coat”, who was constantly finding himself out of his depth within ornate dinner party conversation.  His film credits include all but the first of the Harry Potter adaptations (in which he plays Arthur Weasley), Shakespeare in Love (the stuttering bloke - that was him) and, more recently, Stardust, in which he gave a stunning performance as a goat trapped inside a human body. In addition, he has presented his own string of documentary series, Industrial Revelations, Mark Williams on the Rails and Mark Williams' Big Bangs, and starred in the BBC Radio 4 programme "The Tape-Recorded Highlights of a Humble Bee".  All of which, needless to say, is very, very nice.