Norbert Smith – a Life is a spoof TV documentary film charting the life and career of the fictitious British actor Sir Norbert Smith. It stars Harry Enfield in the title role. It was written by Harry Enfield and Geoffrey Perkins and directed by Geoff Posner. It was made by Hat Trick Productions for Channel 4 and was first broadcast on 3 November 1989. The film is presented as if it were an edition of the ITV arts programme The South Bank Show, and features Melvyn Bragg, the presenter of the real South Bank Show, playing himself as the interviewer visiting Sir Norbert at his home, and encouraging him to reminisce about his past career. The humour arises from the fact that although Sir Norbert is acclaimed as one of Britain’s “Knights of the Theatre”, in the mould of a Laurence Olivier or John Gielgud, actually none of his contemporaries has anything particularly good to say about him, and he appears to have had limited success in landing good film roles. Interviewed now in his old age, he is demented, and has confused memories about his past. The main point of the film, however, is the parodying of various 20th century film genres, through interspersed clips that feature Enfield as Sir Norbert in a variety of film roles.
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