Colin Hogg on television

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Colin Hogg: Dwarves refreshingly loveable

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Little people series is actually really good television.

The series follows seven dwarfs working on a well-known pantomime. Photo / TVNZ
The series follows seven dwarfs working on a well-known pantomime. Photo / TVNZ

I know there are Hobbits among us right now and I don't want to be insensitive, but is there a link between the launch of Peter Jackson's world-dominating Hobbit movie and TV One's launch of Seven Dwarves, an entertainment similarly based around little people?

There was a time when the likes of a documentary reality TV series called Seven Dwarves would have been well out of bounds. There was a period when we weren't supposed to use the "D" word at all.

But we now live in slippery times when being politically incorrect is increasingly the thing to be and the sky, in that regard, is the limit. Or should that be the gutter?

In television, we can increasingly expect the latter, but in the case of Seven Dwarves (9.30pm, Tuesdays, TV One) the tacky exploitation suggested by the title isn't matched by the show itself - not in the least, oddly enough.

Seven Dwarves might actually win my award for best foreign show on a local channel. It's a seven-part, seven-dwarf series from Britain, following a troupe of dwarf actors as they rehearse and take part in a pantomime production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in the wilds of Woking.

Adding a hint of Big Brother to proceedings, the seven dwarves are sharing a house. Two of them - Grumpy and Blusher (a lady dwarf) - are in a relationship. At least one dwarf is gay, at least one is upper middle class. It's a bit like a pint-sized modernised Canterbury Tales, with each episode concentrating on a character at a time.

Last week's first episode told Max's Tale - Max being Max Laird, golf-playing Surrey-born son of a full-sized businessman and twin of a full-sized sister.

Max is a 31-year-old who happens to stand 1.27m. He's a punchy, forthright type - several sizes larger than life. He wants to be a proper actor and not have to "do the old hi-ho shit" of playing Grumpy in a panto every year.

"We're typecast," he says ruefully. I felt for him. At one point he tells his father he'd recently landed a job for a TV advert, dressing up as a gum protecting the teeth from the germs.

Though things were looking up. He'd been given a role in a proper movie called My Big Fat Gypsy Gangster, playing a compact gangster. His producer was very enthusiastic and a huge and shameless dwarf fan. "I like little people, always have" he said with a big smile. "I used to chase after them and stroke them for luck."

Seven Dwarves is an odd and loveable series, with the personal stuff told against the backdrop of the panto and the living together.

In tonight's episode, we meet Josh, who plays Sniffly in the panto and who comes from a whole family of show business dwarves.

And then there's bespectacled Craig, who plays Prof and is keen on the karaoke. He ended the first episode with a spirited crack at Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me in a pub full of enchanted drunks.

Television, really, doesn't get much better than this.

- NZ Herald

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