Previously on G&TV, we brought you an archival treat starring Chris Barrie. This month, we bring you the results of a YouTube search for a different member of the Red Dwarf cast; from September 1992, it’s The Reconstructed Heart, an illustrated lecture by Robert Llewellyn. It was broadcast on Channel 4 in the same month that it became Robert’s first published book.
A fresh-faced Robert poses as a “psycho-sexual consultant” to deliver his comedic treatise on the current state of male identity and sexual politics in the early 1990s, comparing and contrasting the attitudes of “reconstructed men” and “normal men”. The lecture is aided by a slide-show of factually spurious but amusing graphs, and talking head contributions from members of Robert’s fictional focus group, played by Robin Driscoll, Andrew Bailey, Colin Bruce, John Otway and John Harding.
The format uses similar techniques to those later used by the likes of David Baddiel and Dave Gorman, and naturally brings to mind Robert’s 2003 DVD Woman Wizard, which shares a lot of the same themes. However, while the later work sometimes veered into slightly trite “men and woman are different” material, the satirical target here is squarely aimed at Robert’s own gender, tackling the inherent stupidity of toxic masculinity in way that stands up well today. The progressive attitude was perhaps slightly ahead of its time in 1992, when the new lad culture was just around the corner, bringing with it a shift away from the more liberal male archetypes Robert’s character represents. Jokes towards the end of the show that suggest elements of inadequacy and hypocrisy within the reconstructed man are perhaps a concession that more work was still to be done.
Plus, there’s some funny cartoons of penises. It’s a show that’s mostly wryly amusing rather than laugh out loud funny, but it’s well worth watching. Look out for the Q&A session that concludes the lecture – most of the audience questions seem genuine from Robert’s reactions, but the segment is book-ended by two clearly planted questions that allow Robert to segue in and out of pre-prepared material. Both questions are asked by the same woman – and it’s only bloody Judy Pascoe!
As a bonus, the YouTube uploader has left the original commercial break in the video, so that we can enjoy vintage adverts such as a trailer for 1992 Best Picture winner Unforgiven, one of the Creature Comforts ads for electricity, and a Kit-Kat ad featuring Thunderbirds.