Tracey Ullman Show, The

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents




From Wikipedia:

The Tracey Ullman Show was a weekly American television variety show, hosted by British comedian and onetime pop singer Tracey Ullman. It debuted on April 5, 1987 as the FOX network's second primetime series (after Married... with Children), and ran until May 26, 1990. Re-runs of all the episodes appeared on the Lifetime TV cable channel as well as Comedy Central during the middle and late 1990s. The show featured sketch comedy along with many musical numbers, featuring choreography by Paula Abdul. It also produced the animated series The Simpsons. This is the first show produced by Gracie Films and also produced by 20th Century Fox Television.


By the 1980s, acclaimed television producer, James L. Brooks, (producer of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Taxi, and Rhoda), had left the television industry for the big screen. At the time that he won the Oscar for his film, Terms of Endearment, Brooks began receiving videotapes from Ullman's Los Angeles agent, hoping to get his attention. Ullman, who was already famous in her homeland, England, was already landing a variety of television deals and proposals in America, but none had panned out. These projects didn't suit Ullman's interests. "[They were] shows with morals, where everyone learns something at the end of the show," related Ullman to a television critic for TV Guide in 1989, describing the television show ideas that were offered to her. Brooks was so taken by what he saw in Ullman, that he decided to take the young Brit under his wing and return to television. Brooks was determined to develop the right vehicle to showcase Ullman's talents: acting, dancing, and singing and decided upon creating a sketch comedy show. Ullman had already had a successful music career in the early 1980s, in the UK, and had a top 10 hit on the American charts with a cover of Kristy MacColl's "They Don't Know" and her You Broke My Heart in 17 Places.


A typical episode would begin with Ullman giving a brief introduction, ostensibly from her dressing room, leading into the opening titles (the show's theme, "You're Thinking Right", was written by George Clinton). Then two or three comedy sketches would be presented in each episode, most designed to showcase Ullman's ability to skillfully mimic various accents. One popular recurring character was timid, slow-talking Kay ("Iiit's... Kaaaaaaaayyy...")

Typically, the final sketch of the night would include a musical and/or dance number featuring Ullman solo or other members of the cast. The final segment saw Ullman, clad in a robe, deliver a closing monologue to the studio audience before ending the show with her catchphrase "Go Home! Go Home!" and dancing as the credits rolled. Ullman often talked about her husband, Allan McKeown, and her daughter, Mabel. Ullman chose the phrase, "Go home," during the show's pilot episode because she couldn't think of anything clever to end with. "Oh, you got sore bums... go home!"

The show won three Emmy Awards: for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Program in 1989 and 1990, for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program in 1990. Also in 1989, choreographer Paula Abdul won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Choreography for her work. [1] Abdul was noted for putting Ullman through strenuous choreographed routines. Ullman had been a trained dancer.


* Tracey Ullman (Seasons 1-4)

* Dan Castellaneta (Seasons 1-4)

* Julie Kavner (Seasons 1-4)

* Sam McMurray (Seasons 2-4)

* Joseph Malone (Seasons 2-4)

* Anna Levine (Season 3)


Who talked about this show

James L. Brooks

View Interview
James L. Brooks on the development of The Tracey Ullman Show and the genesis of The Simpsons
James L. Brooks on the format of The Tracey Ullman Show

Nancy Cartwright

View Interview
Nancy Cartwright on coming in to audition for "Lisa Simpson" of The Simpsons, then part of The Tracey Ullman Show, and leaving with the role of "Bart Simpson"
Nancy Cartwright on auditioning for The Simpsons, originally part of the Tracey Ullman Show

Dan Castellaneta

View Interview
Dan Castellaneta on how he got discovered for The Tracey Ullman Show while performing at Chicago's Second City
On the sketch featuring a gay couple (Castellaneta and Sam McMurray) and their daughter, Francesca, on The Tracey Ullman Show ; risks the show took on FOX

Leonard Goldberg

View Interview
Leonard Goldberg on the development of The Tracey Ullman Show

Sam Simon

View Interview
Sam Simon on producing and directing The Tracey Ullman Show
Sam Simon on the process of writing The Tracy Ullman Show
Sam Simon on working with Tracey Ullman on The Tracey Ullman Show
Sam Simon on The Tracey Ullman Show sketches
Sam Simon on the beginning of The Simpsons

Yeardley Smith

View Interview
Yeardley Smith on how she got the audition for "Lisa Simpson" (when The Simpsons was a feature on The Tracey Ullman Show)
Yeardley Smith on her audition for "Lisa Simpson" and how she originally was brought in to read for "Bart Simpson"
Yeardley Smith on the original incarnation of The Simpsons, which were bumpers before commercials of The Tracey Ullman Show
Yeardley Smith on The Simpsons spinning off from The Tracey Ullman Show, and its immediate success
Yeardley Smith on how The Simpsons has changed since it started as part of The Tracey Ullman Show

All Shows