In the dim and distant past, a definite vacuum of satire existed on British television. Angry but hilarious commentary was, as yet, unknown; the terrifying erection-killer Margaret Thatcher's icy grip sucked the comedy out of any brave attempts that struggled onto the nation's screens. In this time of difficulty, the nation's pent-up frustration needed to find some way to escape.
What was the problem?
Doubtless, you have experienced the sensation yourself. Picture the scene: a beautiful Sunday morning, the wind caressing the trees, the sun beaming down on a peaceful village as pensioners amble to church. A perfect day. A day on which nothing can go wrong; a day during which the earth is truly at peace with itself.
And then, calamity strikes.
The silence is broken by a scream. A cataclysmic event has taken place, your only clue to its nature being the plaintive wail emanating from a nearby building. You strain your ears to listen, hoping against hope that nothing too dreadful has occurred. Does anyone know? you hear. Does anyone know? Where is the lid?
Which lid would this be?
Many speculative theories have been suggested regarding the nature of this lid. The most widely accepted, proposed by one S. Fry, is the idea that the lid is simply a lid: an item designed to keep the contents of a jar of jam restrained within the container. The concept, for him, lies more in the human interaction with the lid; the way Laurie's long struggle with mental illness had left him incapable of accepting the loss of even the most basic of objects.
However, such is the genius of the sketch that alternative levels of analysis are possible.
Throughout their long partnership, Fry, a dedicated homosexual, and Laurie, a purported heterosexual, have pursued a friendship which many have described as 'suspicious', 'inappropriate', 'alternative', or 'just downright suggestive'. Proponents of this theory suggest that the lid is actually symbolic of Laurie's virginity. The analogy suggests that Fry is in some way responsible for its loss, as he appears to be aware of its whereabouts while Laurie is not.
The mention of a jam jar, however, and Fry beating Laurie to death later on in the sketch, lends a disturbing air to this interpretation.
Where was the lid?
To his eternal chagrin, and despite Fry's frequent mentions of its whereabouts, Laurie never manages to locate the lid. Perhaps this is a lesson for us all: we can spend our whole lives searching for things that are obvious to others, and yet never find satisfaction. Perhaps this is an indicator that we should listen to those in the background before we follow our own instincts. Perhaps this simply refers to Laurie's inability to recover his virginity from the man that has so obviously taken it.
Only time will tell.