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LAST NIGHT'S VIEW: Paul's happy to play it for tears.

Byline: TONY PURNELL

HAPPINESS is a bloke called Paul Whitehouse, who used to play second fiddle to Harry Enfield but now leads his own orchestra, so to speak.

He struck out on his own with The Fast Show and was such a success he has now moved on to comedy drama.

Instead of playing several characters in quick-fire sketches, he is the co-author and star of Happiness (BBC2), and very good he is too.

Whitehouse can do sad as well as funny. The title was taken from Ken Dodd's hit song from the Sixties, but the series is more about the inability to find happiness than anything else.

Whitehouse played newly widowed Danny Spencer, who was staring 40 in the face and was not very happy with what he saw.

He worked in showbusiness but was not exactly in the spotlight - he provided the voice for an animated Kung Fu nurse bear called Dexter. (Whitehouse did not spend years creating loadsalooney characters for Harry Enfield for nothing.)

Danny resented the fact that the bear was famous and cherished by all, while he went unrecognised and unloved. The funeral of his wife - she was knocked down by an ice cream van on a zebra crossing - provided the scene setter.

It was a great way of introducing his friends, who were about as far removed as you could get from the gang in Cold Feet.

Danny felt guilty because instead of grief he felt an overwhelming sense of relief. He was comforted by randy biker Angus - played by the splendid Clive Russell from Heartburn Hotel - who told him he was a young man with a long life ahead of him.

Danny was not convinced and feared a slow trundle into impotence. He was last seen in tears but versatile Whitehouse must be laughing all the way to the bank.

BAD Girls (ITV) was so bad it was almost worth watching. Lifer Shell (Debra Stephenson) stabbed prison officer Jim Fenner (Jack Ellis) in the stomach with a broken bottle, and there were fears he would bleed to death. We can but hope.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 21, 2001
Words:349
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