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The drunken Scottish street philosopher, Rab C. Nesbitt first appeared on the seminal Scottish comedy show Naked Video. Progressing in 1989 to his own Christmas special Rab C Nesbitt's Seasonal Greet, the popularity of this much-rerun show spawned a further 8 series of alcoholic ranting. The series was broadcast nationally, despite the strong and sometimes impenetrable Glaswegian accents, which was parodied in one episode where Rab goes to London in search of his runaway son, and subtitles are used to translate the dialogue.
Rab is a 40-something waster. He's never worked a day in his life, and revels in the intricacies of the Welfare system (or 'the Broo' in common Glasgow parlance) He is married to the matriarchal Mary, who holds together the family of two sons Gash and Burnie in spite of Rab's lifestyle of booze and casual violence.
But he's not all bad, he has deep and profound thoughts about life and philosophy, and will expound them to any passer-by with the help of his rolled-up newspaper. He wanders the streets of Govan (a district in Glasgow) in a dirty blue suit and string vest, always with his trademark dirty bandage around his head from some long-forgotten head wound. Together with his eternal scheming friend, Jamesie Cotter (and his long suffering wife Ella) Rab introduces us to a myriad of colourful and downright scary Glasgow characters.
Although comedy in intent, the series explored many dark topics, including marital breakup, murder, long term unemployment, infertility, cannibalism and child abuse. Through several flashback sequences, we see the young Rab and his siblings putting up with a violent father who took his life failures out on his family. Rab's own family life is far from idyllic, Mary leaving him to fend for himself on various occasions, and the kids running away to London.
The final series was aired in 1998. The entire run of series is currently (2007) being repeated on Paramount Comedy in the UK.
In 2008, the character returned for a one-off, 45-minute special at Christmas 2008. As of January 2010, a forthcoming new series has just started airing.
- Number of episodes: 53 Length: 48 x 30 mins, 2 x 45 mins, 2 x 50 mins, 1 x short special
- Special (45 mins) Rab C Nesbitt's Seasonal Greet: 31 Dec 1989, BBC 2 Sun 9.30pm
- Series One (6) 27 Sep-1 Nov 1990, BBC 2 Thu 9pm
- Special (45 mins) Fitba 15 July 1991, BBC 2 Mon 9.45pm
- Series Two (6) 14 May-18 June 1992, BBC 2 Thu 9pm
- Special (50 mins) 31 Dec 1992, BBC 2 Thu 11.30pm
- Series Three (6) 18 Nov-23 Dec 1993, BBC 2 Thu 9pm
- Series Four (6) 19 Sep-24 Oct 1994, BBC 2 Mon 9pm
- Short special part of Fry And Laurie Host A Christmas Night With The Stars 27 Dec 1994, BBC 2 Tue 9pm
- Special (50 mins) 29 Dec 1994, BBC 2 Thu 9pm
- Series Five (6) 5 Jan-9 Feb 1996, BBC 2 Fri 9pm
- Series Six (6) 1 Aug-5 Sep 1997, BBC 2 Fri 9.30pm
- Series Seven (6) 21 Aug-25 Sep 1998, BBC 2 Fri 9.30pm
- Series Eight (6) 14 May-18 June 1999, BBC 2 Fri 9.30pm
- Christmas special, 23 December 2008, BBC 2 9pm
The show provides examples of:
- Affably Evil: Pete the Warlock. For that matter, all the Satanists who appear in that episode come off as this. Sure, they may sacrifice goats, deflower virgins and on occasion daub their naked flesh with the warm blood of animals and engage in unspeakable acts of sexual depravity, but they do lots of wonderful work for charity.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Rab, constantly.
- Black Comedy: And how. Over its run there's barely a taboo topic the show hasn't featured, and almost always for laughs. This includes, but is not limited to, cancer, neo-Nazism, incest, cannibalism, ringworm, Satanism, alcoholism and mental illness.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: On several occasions, with many well-known British actors making cameos.
- The Tenth Doctor is a transgendered barmaid!
- And the Seventh Doctor is Rab's mentally disturbed brother!
- Wormtail is a suicidal jailbird.
- Yaxley is a Satanist with a goatee!
- Several actors who went on to appear in Still Game, another popular Scottish Sitcom, such as Ford Kiernan, Gavin Mitchell, Paul Young, and even Sanjeev Kholi in Series 9.
- Revival: A Christmas Special ten years after the show first went off air, followed by a full series the year after.
- Large Ham: The Pie mafia Boss in series 5.
- No Accounting for Taste: Rab and Mary, and to an even greater extent, Jamesie and Ella. (The Nesbitts are much more likely than the Cotters to get Aw, Look -- They Really Do Love Each Other moments.)
- Overly Long Name: John William Pure Mad Mental Intae Your Body Simpson Craig Gemmell Chib The Bam Rib-Racker No Real Young Rebel Ya Bas St. John McGurn aka Young Young McGurn.
- The Philosopher
- Similar Squad: On holiday in the Costa Del Sol, Rab is delighted to see a Spanish man in a vest and bandaged head, ranting incomprehensibly at nobody.
Rab: There's nothing restores your faith mair in human nature than meetin some poor bastard that's just as mad as yersel.
- The Stoner: Gash
Mary Nesbitt: Gash, how many fingers am I holding up?
Gash Nesbitt: Uh, Thursday.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: After Burnie was written out by Actor Existence Failure Rab has to take care of his nephew Screech.
- Tie-in Novel: A Stranger Here Myself: Being the Life Story and Revelations of Mister Rab C. Nesbitt of Govan.
- Violent Glaswegian: Where to begin?