Advertisement
TV

Hullraisers proves that Hull is intrinsically funny

Lucy Sweet left years ago, but Channel 4’s Hullraisers instantly transports her back to a childhood of chippy queues and flattened vowels

When you tell people you’re from Hull, a look passes across their faces for a fleeting moment, as if someone has left an unidentifiable smell in their en suite.

It’s not disgust, exactly. It’s more like they’re politely trying to hide their confusion and panic. Inside, they’re screaming, “That can’t be good, can it? But what am I going to do about it, OMG what will I say? HELP.”  

And I understand. Hull is one of life’s greatest mysteries. It’s widely synonymous with being crap and smelling like fish, and for that reason it doesn’t get much airtime.

Some people can talk to you about Philip Larkin or the Humber Bridge, but for many it’s a blank space of depressed coastal northernness that isn’t Leeds and isn’t Manchester, and sounds a bit like Dull or Hell.  

Subscribe to The Big Issue

Support us

Take a print or digital subscription to The Big Issue and provide a critical lifeline to our work.

They have no idea that Hull is the home of the world’s smallest window, that it has its own Craggy Island-style telecommunications network with white telephone boxes, that there is a street called The Land of Green Ginger in the city centre and that people from Hull don’t sound anything like characters in Emmerdale or Coronation Street.

On the contrary, some vowels can be stretched out for days and others sound like a Yorkshire terrier trapped in a well. “Do yow knuuuuuuh heh?” “Uh, nuuuuuuuuuuuh, I duuuun’t knuuuuuuuuuuh heh, do yow?” 

Advertisement
Advertisement

Personally, I lost my “uuuuhs” aged seven, when my family moved across the country to the north-west, where people from Hull were considered strange and otherworldly (and thick).

I spent many years being embarrassed about my birthplace and played it down constantly, even moving to Scotland for 30 years to distract myself from it. But maybe I’m getting old and nostalgic, because now, when I hear the siren call of that accent, I’m like Kes flying back to his big suede glove.

One flat “o” sound and I’m immediately standing in the queue at Eileen’s chippy in 1978, staring into the shining metal and glass box filled with scraps of golden batter and drooling out of both sides of my mouth. It is the sound of huuuuuhme. 

The Big Issue TV
Award-winning documentaries hand picked by The Big Issue. Use promo code 'BIGOFFER' to get your first month free of charge.

So it was great to hear it in full effect in Hullraisers, which has joined Lee and Jenny from Gogglebox in Hull’s almost non-existent TV canon.

Written by comedian Lucy Beaumont, it tells the story of young mother Toni (sorry, “Tuuuuuuhneh”) and her friends; horny police officer Rana and jaded mother of horny teens, Paula, who spent the entire first episode chugging squirty cream into her mouth from the can.

It’s all fairly familiar territory, not a million miles from the chaotic filth of Sharon Horgan’s Pulling, and the unflinching working-class humour of Alma’s Not Normal, but with that certain je ne sais quoi – the Hullness. You see, Hull is intrinsically funny. Everything from the sad bouncy castle in the car park of the Silver Cod, to the guy who says he plays for Hull City but is actually the mascot, is très, très Hull.

In one scene, Toni vows to give up fun so she can concentrate full time on being a responsible mother. “I’m just going to be whuuuuuulesome,” she says, staring out of the window with a tragic look of glassy-eyed boredom, before taking a call and going straight to a party. In any other accent, it wouldn’t have been quite as funny.  

But it’s not like Hull does all the heavy lifting – the writing is sharp and warm, the characters are really strong, and everyone seems to be having a riot. I loved it, but even if you don’t know one end of Chanterlands Avenue from the other, I think you might love it too.

Come on, give Hullraisers a chance. And if you don’t, well, you knuuuuh where to guuuuuh. 

Hullraisers is on Channel 4 on Tuesdays at 9.50pm and on More 4 

@lucytweet1

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine. If you cannot reach your local vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member. You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.

Advertisement

Every copy counts this Christmas

Your local vendor is at the sharp end of the cost-of-living crisis this Christmas. Prices of energy and food are rising rapidly. As is the cost of rent. All at their highest rate in 40 years. Vendors are amongst the most vulnerable people affected. Support our vendors to earn as much as they can and give them a fighting chance this Christmas.

Recommended for you

Read All
Mark Bonnar: 'The big change for me was Line of Duty'
Letter to my younger self

Mark Bonnar: 'The big change for me was Line of Duty'

Christmas adverts seem like a cry for help this year
Festive

Christmas adverts seem like a cry for help this year

Wednesday review: Can the Addams Family free Tim Burton?
Gothic

Wednesday review: Can the Addams Family free Tim Burton?

Damian Lewis and Guy Pearce on Kim Philby drama: 'You can have a lot of fun in the spy genre'
espionage

Damian Lewis and Guy Pearce on Kim Philby drama: 'You can have a lot of fun in the spy genre'

Most Popular

Read All
Here's when and where nurses are going on strike
1.

Here's when and where nurses are going on strike

Pattie Boyd: 'I was with The Beatles and everything was fabulous'
2.

Pattie Boyd: 'I was with The Beatles and everything was fabulous'

Here's when people will get the additional cost of living payment
3.

Here's when people will get the additional cost of living payment

Why do people hate Matt Hancock? Oh, let us count the ways
4.

Why do people hate Matt Hancock? Oh, let us count the ways