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(Credit: BBC)

Film

From Roger Daltrey to Razorlight: The musical cameos in ‘The Mighty Boosh’

Somehow, nearly 15 years have escaped us since the final episode of the beloved surrealist comedy The Mighty Boosh graced our screens for the final time. While the troupe, spearheaded by the creative dynamism of Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt, achieved their big break on television, the comedy outfit covered an impressive range of platforms. Having started out touring as a stage production depicting strange tales that were often loosely inspired by Fielding’s parents’ stories of taking LSD in the 1970s, The Mighty Boosh went into a totally new realm of its own.

The weird and wonderful world of The Boosh gained the attention of the BBC, who contracted them for a series of radio-based shows in 2001. Following a successful pilot, Steve Coogan’s company, Baby Cow Productions, agreed to produce the first series of the televised recreation for BBC Three. 

As the Boosh hit the screens, they rapidly gained a cult following of like-minded weirdos with a soft spot for surrealism and Fielding’s affable charm. Much of the series’ success came from its wide range of intriguing characters, including Naboo the Enigma, played by Noel’s brother, Michael Fielding; Bollo, the talking gorilla and Old Greg, the “legendary fish. Some say he’s half man half fish, others say it’s a 70:30 mix of the two. Whatever the percentage, he’s one fishy bastard.”

The low budget orchestration was used to their advantage, with the troupe making no serious efforts to keep a firm grip on reality. Often they would break the fourth wall and make light of the low-budget production. The first example that jumps to mind is when Bryan Ferry – played by Julian Barratt with a printout of Ferry’s chin strapped to his face – explains to Vince Noir (played by Noel Fielding) that the Hitcher (also portrayed by Fielding) is “as real as this forest”. Ferry then knocks on a tree, and the 2D set starts collapsing over an awkward silence.

The gentle comedy and enduring sense of adventure kept the series afloat for three series between 2004 and 2007. The charmingly innocent character, Vince Noir, comes across as an exaggerated version of Fielding and conveys his light-hearted yet strange sense of humour and his passion for music. Throughout the series, there are near-constant references to rock music icons from the past 60 years, whether it’s Robert Smith’s extra strong hold hairspray that can freeze a satsuma in mid-air or Sid Vicious’ safety pin that holds the power to destroy the Spirit of Jazz. 

Naturally, the show became a staple comedy among music lovers and musicians alike, and on several occasions, the Boosh were even joined on set by some of their heroes. So, without further ado, come with us now on a journey through the musical cameos of The Mighty Boosh

The musical cameos in The Mighty Boosh:

Robots in Disguise 

Perhaps the most involved of the musical guests cast in the Boosh was the electro-punk duo Robots In Disguise. Dee Plume and Sue Denim made up the core of the act while they enlisted a rolling line-up of backing musicians over their active careers in the 2000s. After releasing four studio albums and achieving moderate success with a cult following, the duo disbanded in 2011. In 2019, they announced that they planned to have a reunion and release a fifth album. As yet, the album hasn’t materialised.

The duo appeared in ‘Mutants’, ‘Electro’, ‘Nanageddon’ and ‘The Strange Tale of the Crack Fox’. They were usually cast as a band of sorts and played exaggerated versions of themselves, either as the electro band members seen in ‘Electro’ or the goths in ‘Nanageddon’.

Diva Zappa 

The late musical marvel Frank Zappa left behind four children. The eldest of his children is called Moon Zappa, but unfortunately, she didn’t play ‘The Moon’ in Boosh. However, Frank’s youngest daughter, Diva, did play a part in The Mighty Boosh TV series. Diva is an actress and artist who has starred in several films, most notably Anarchy TV, Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror and National Lampoon’s Pledge This.

The highlight of her acting career, at least where we’re concerned, was her appearance in the penultimate episode of series three, titled Party. Diva played the role of Vince’s friend, whom he asks to feign an interest in jazz and stationery in a ploy to get Howard to host a birthday party at Nabootique. Allegedly, the Zappa family were given a Mighty Boosh DVD, and they thoroughly enjoyed the show. Subsequently, Diva wrote to the troupe explaining that her father would have loved the show and asked if she could be involved in some way.

Roger Daltrey and Razorlight

The most cameo-heavy episode of the entire Boosh catalogue is The Priest and the Beast. The episode follows the narrative of Naboo’s wacky story of how bandmates Rudi and Spider of the Bongo Brothers search the isolated desert in search of the “new sound”. For those straining their memory cells, this is the episode where Betamax, the feared and obsolete format, is an anthropomorphised being with ill intent that the Bongo Brothers must vanquish. 

As Rudi and Spider first enter the desert in search of the “new sound”, they notice they’re not alone in their quest. A number of other musical artists are seen scouring the land, including Kevin Rowland (not played by himself) and the members of indie group Razorlight, who are seen searching for the new sound with a metal detector. Finally, in the closing scene of the episode, Roger Daltrey is spotted hoovering up the floor of the desert.

Gary Numan 

Throughout the three series, Vince shows that he’s quite the music fanatic. While he speeds through different genres and outfits faster than it takes for the Cheekbone magazine to be reissued by powerful ninjas, one artist appears to remain his favourite. In the early episodes of series one, Vince frequently mentions his love for synth-pop icon Gary Numan. He even has Numan’s 1979 hit ‘Cars’ as his ringtone. 

By series three, Fielding and Barratt were honoured to have their idol on set for a short cameo. In The Power of the Crimp, Howard is trying to cheer Vince up. Vince is down in the dumps because he has a creepy stalker who is “stealing” his “look”. The copyist, Lance Dior, goes beyond the pale when he accessorises by befriending a Howard Moon lookalike called Harold Boom. In an attempt to cheer Vince up, Howard opens their magic cupboard where Gary Numan lives. Numan gives Vince a wave, but it seems even Numan can’t cheer Vince up today. 

The Horrors

In the final episode of the final series, The Chokes, The Boosh invited Essex alternative rock group The Horrors on set. During the episode, Howard looks to overcome his ‘chokes’ that are inhibiting his ambitions of becoming an actor. Meanwhile, Vince sees a chance to join the fictional punk band called The Black Tubes when their frontman mysteriously befalls an “accident” – courtesy of Bollo and Naboo.

The Black Tubes – portrayed by the members of The Horrors, whom Barratt and Fielding had befriended in the real world – accept Vince’s request to join the band as the replacement singer, but on the condition that he can slim down his legs to fit into the group’s trademark ‘Drainpipe’ trousers. Vince then spends a few days travelling in a wheelchair to waste his leg muscles in an attempt to squeeze into the ludicrously tight trousers.