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They call him a media terrorist, but he’s not going to comment, Chris Morris is a legend. The Day Today is probably the best remembered project that Morris has leant his skills and talent to. Basically, it’s the news. Yes for thirty beautiful minutes you are gonna be facted. This is an excellent pastiche of the world of news, superb characterisations, quality production and obscure stories. All the details have been carefully crafted for your satirical pleasure, this really feels like the news, sincere presenters with proper news names, the graphics, the music. Right from the word go the erratic graphics begin to get carried away as the shows globe logo transforms into a spinning coin, a football, and the music stampedes on through with a passion and urgency to rival any bulletin. Then there he is, Morris as his Paxman style parody of the news anchor-man. “Top Gits tonight…” he exclaims as the headlines begin. It’s spoof, so what kind of headlines should you expect? Portillo's teeth removed to boost pound Exploded cardinal preaches sermon from fish tank And where now for man raised by puffins? The show continues on it’s path, attacking every ingredient on the way, sport, business, weather, travel, vox pops, green news, the list goes on. Essentially it’s a sketch show with a definite genre and form, but there is still space for soap and docu-soap mockeries. It was made in 1994 and the fact that they were mocking docu-soaps before they became the next-big-thing is to their credit and shows the talent of those involved. When it comes to the crunch, it’s all a bit silly really but when delivered with as much conviction as they do it becomes very dead-pan. Apart from just being silly it seems there is a definite want to make a proper attack on the news genre, and there’s certainly a fair few prods at royalty and government for good measure. Including sketches from
a range of contributors the show is mainly down to Armando Iannucci, Peter Baynham, Chris Morris and the cast. It’s an audio-visual evolution of ‘On The Hour’ a news spoof on Radio 4. Iannucci is a big name, it’s difficult to spell too, but seriously he is top stuff. His own recent show on Channel 4 was a joy of ground-breaking honesty and his other many credits including BBC’s Armistice shows and Alan Partridge are testimony to his comedy sparkle. Peter Baynham, also a very funny man with an impressive past, he plays a few parts in the show but generally seems happier writing. Generally though Chris Morris tends to get the most attention from this show, it might not be fair, but that’s life. He gets the most attention in this opinion too. The son of two Cambridgeshire GPs, Chris Morris was educated at Stonyhurst College and studied zoology at Bristol University. He started at BBC Radio Bristol in 1987, where he hosted a show called No Known Cure. A lot of Morris’ trademarks and tools evolved over the show’s two-year run – prank phone calls, bizarre ‘news’ stories, and the wilful mangling of the English language into a myriad of baffling shapes. According to legend (there are a lot of legends about this man), Morris departed under a cloud after filling a news studio with helium, which meant that news of a fairly serious pile-up was apparently read by Mickey Mouse. This was the first in a prestigious line of sackings, caused by varied incidents. Pausing briefly to record a few shows for the long-dead satellite channel BSB, he made his way to Greater London Radio, where he quickly started to court the sort of controversy that still dogs him. He re-edited the Queen’s Christmas speech so that it seemed that ol’ Liz was effing like a trooper. The hoax calls continued, and it seems that Morris’s long-running feud with the Evening Standard’s Victor Lewis-Smith dates
to this period – Smith appears to feel Morris somehow ripped him off by doing prank calls. He followed this with the beginnings of The Day Today, and of course the beginnings of The Day Today was the finishings of On The Hour, a half-hour radio show that savagely and brilliantly spoofed its host network. On The Hour launched Morris, Steve Coogan, Patrick Marber and Armando Iannucci on an unsuspecting populace. On The Hour duly mutated into The Day Today. And thank god, I don’t know what we’d have done without the news-felch. Although Morris nearly pulled out of the show early on due to an argument with Iannucci over a sketch regarding the discovery of fossilised remains of Christ. Some other noted Morris moments in history: He was suspended from Radio 1 after falsely announcing the death of Jimmy Saville and insinuating that Michael Heseltine had also died. In 1996 he appeared on the daytime programme The Time, The Place, posing as an academic, Thurston Lowe, in a discussion entitled "Are British Men Lousy Lovers?". Brass Eye a natural extension of the Day Today style has produced some of his more celebrated controversy - Michael Grade cautiously commissioned a series, only to seek to shelve the finished product until station executives persuaded him otherwise. A spoof report about a new Yorkshire Ripper stage show, Sutcliffe The Musical was cut from the series. (Morris retaliated in a subsequent episode, superimposing the words "Grade is a c**t" on the screen for a single frame.) More recently his Paedo-gedden special rocked the Daily Mail’s boat like a trooper and posing as Richard Geefe a columnist in The Observer he proceeded to commit suicide. That’s the man in charge, let’s look at some of the line-up… Christopher Morris (Chris Morris) – In Charge and Paxmanesque Collatallie Sisters (Doon Mackichan) – Business News delivered with such stern kn
owledgeable conviction you might almost believe the nonsense jumble of information and be concerned about the Currency Susan. Chris… Collatalli Sisters… Chris… Alan Partridge (Steve Coogan) – Sports. Great rendition of that breed of telly presenter, eternally amiable but struggling. Shit – Eat my goal! Valerie Sinatra (Rebecca Front) – A mile above the centre of Great Britain in The Day Today Travel Tower. That accident has been going on for two hours now, so that’s really deathsville. Rosie May (Rebecca Front) – Environmation presenter with the world at her teat. Ted Maul (Chris Morris) – Gravel voiced fierce willed reporter Eugene Fraxby (Chris Morris) – A man who sees what happens and tells it. Peter O’Hanrahahanrahan (Patrick Marber) – He’s lost the News, and he’s dying in a news grave. Brant (David Schneider) – The physical cartoonist from the Daily Telegraph casts his wry eye on the world of politics. Barbara Wintergreen (Rebecca Front) – Reporting for The Day Today, for CBN news, from across the pond. In a dazzling array of garish suits she weekly rolls out the poetic tabloid telly wordplay. Jacques ‘Jacques’ Liverot (Patrick Marber) – Philosopher and cultural commentator. Colin Poppshed (Peter Baynham) – Gay Desk. (He isn’t gay by the way, they wouldn’t employ a homosexual!) Sylvester Stewart (David Schneider) – The disembodied mister meteorology. These are just a few of the characters that make up the news team, the cast play many other roles through the show as members of the public and various sketch characters. The skeleton cast is: David Schnieder – Friday/Saturday Night Armistice, Armando Iannucci Shows Patrick Marber – Knowing Me Knowing You Peter Baynham – Friday/S
aturday Night Armistice, I’m Alan Partridge Doon Mackichan – Smack the Pony, Beast, Glam Metal Detectives Rebecca Front – Big Train, Time Gentlemen Please, Knowing Me Knowing You Steve Coogan – I’m Alan Partridge, Coogan’s Run, Dr Terrible’s House of Horrible, Knowing Me Knowing You. A lowdown of what happened in each one when they did it… Main News Attack Christopher Morris looks on aghast as Clanger McMartin presents real life footage of drama and gore in “It’s Your Blood”, Alan Partridge looks back at some of the sporting highlights of the sporting season, Prince Charles volunteers to spend a term in jail to set an example, and Barbara Wintergreen reports from America, where a serial killer is to be executed on a toilet in the style of Elvis Presley’s death. Plus! A shocking expose on bullying in the church, and a special preview of BBC2’s forthcoming “Attitudes Night” including another chance to see the last execution live from the BBC Television Centre. These guys like their executions. The Big Report Christopher Morris gets hip and streetsmart to the latest musinews from satellite channel Rok TV, Harfynn Teuport and Sukie Babswent take us through pop and we meet gangster rapper Far-Q in an excellent MTV pastiche, while Alan Partridge gets soaking wet for a live horse racing report from Marple. Coming up as stories in the broadgramme tonight - an in-depth look at the appalling rise in the use of illegal backstreet dentists, and the first part of an in at the deep end look at a day in the life of St. Lamb’s Pool in Acton. Meganews This is THE NEWS! The Queen and Prime Minister John Major have been involved in some sort of drubbing incident to save cash, many members of the royal staff have been culled, but not even an event of this magnitude can prevent The Day Today from bringing you the real news!
So stay tuned as Ted Maul gives us the garble on an infestation of horses in the London Underground, Alan Partridge follows sport right off the sportstrack, Richard Branson undergoes a probing interview in The Dentist’s Chair, and Barbara Wintergreen toasts the bride in an electric chair wedding. And if you don’t like news, sod off and watch “The Bureau” the BBC’s brand new soap set in a Bureau De Change. Stretchcast Top gits tonight: evidence mounts that the Police have taken to eating suspects, Eugene Fraxby reports on the IRA launch of a campaign of dog bomb attacks in mainland Britain, Sinn Fein representatives are forced to talk with Helium to detract credibility from their statements, a top scientist delivers a shock report on near-death experiences, and Alan Partridge presents his World Cup Countdown to ’94. So long as Peter O’Hanrahahanrahan doesn’t lose the news, that is. Magnifivent In Britain, ‘The Pound’ has gone missing and it’s emergency replacement is the Queen’s eggs fresh from cold storage, while ministers fall victim to Slemmel’s Disease. In America Barbara Wintergreen reports from the cadavalcade, a serial killer is about to be executed by the reanimated corpse of his final victim with the voice of Martin Sheen. Elsewhere in the world, the bloody gibbon of WAR is raging. So where is The Day Today? Where else but… in the thick of THE NEWS!!! And as today is the anniversary of 1944, there’s a special reminiscipackage on that too, discover more about hibernations during the blitz and how people were forced to eat their own houses by rationing. Newsatrolysis (aka Factgasm) Colin Poppshed keeps us up to date with all the latest Gay News filling in the details of gay roads and elements, Peter O’Hanrahahanrahan explains how a factory can function on minus ten thousand workers, Alan Partridge gets a crash course in se
lf-defence, Sylvester Stewart ricochets around the Metball for all our weather needs, and Ted Maul keeps a live watch on a trapped commuter train, the stranded passengers of which have reverted to paganism. Could any of this be more important than the fate of Simon Rattle, last seen lost in cress? When originally transmitted there were short 5 minute teasers shown the day before each episode, much of the extra stuff was genuine extra stuff not in the proper programme, some is available on the videos, some missing and not. 18/01/1994 Includes a report on unattended farms, Alan Partridge commentating on a tennis match, a preview of the shocking expose on bullying in The Church, and speculation on the trumpeter behind Britain's Police. 25/01/1994 Chris Morris reports on ugly children who have 'the looks of an old man', and Alan Partridge previews tomorrow’s horse racing at Marple. 01/02/1994 Special health warnings about Dentists nominating teeth for treatment and 100mph babies, Rosie May casts her glance towards meat farms, and Morris and Partridge display their football skills. 08/02/1994 Shock news tonight - Frank Sinatra is not famous. He merely achieved the illusion with the aid of pulleys and two way mirrors. Also coming up tomorrow - the horned schoolboy who has been banned from maths, and metaphysics Alan Partridge style. 15/02/1994 Chris Morris and the Day Today Newsdancer run down the top ten news. This week’s highest climber: Alan Partridge interviews a Russian tennis ace. And ain’t it the funkiest newsiest mothersucker in the hood right now. Yo bro, dance me a full stop y’all… what…? 22/02/1994 Includes Barbara Wintergreen reporting on the bizarre case of the world's youngest man, Alan Partridge commentating on a bobsleigh tournament, and drama beneath the waves with a live telephone linkup to a trapped submarine. We're with them
every inch of the bloody way... As with many of the projects the cast and writers have done before and since there is a tremendous attention to detail. The genre has been studied in detail and ripped apart at the seems. From the flawless construction of all the codes and signifiers we recognise in news to the curious emphasis of words in sentences with appropriate eyebrow accompaniment, it leaves it’s mark upon you. After watching The Day Today it’s hard to take news seriously, you suddenly begin to notice the strange behaviours of TV journalists despite their stern deadpan delivery. It’s brilliant basically, and it can be placed hand in hand with Fawlty Towers as a great British comedy success. Because it is of that calibre, it was so good, so absolutely spot on that they simply couldn’t make any more. Stopping while you’re ahead is a wise thing to do, knowing when you’re ahead is a skill. This bizarre and often surreal take on the news genre has been a major landmark in comedy but still feels as fresh as when it was made. Certain to be copied, impossible to forget and unlikely to be repeated. Big shame. Available on Video. Not a shame at all. Two videos each with three episodes are in the shops and a very reliable investment indeed, you can watch these over and over again and they are a thing of beauty.
I am a huge fan of the man behind this great satirical show. Chris Morris is a true genius when it comes to taking the royal Mickey out af any genre of TV or Radio. His great radio show "Blue Jam", followed by the TV version "Jam" were simply surreal with bits of normalcy thrown in as a counterpoint, and his spoof documrntary series "Brass Eye" was incredible to say the least (you'll probably remember Channel 4 having to issue an apology for the "Paedogeddon" episode). He is of the mind that nothing is sacred and puts this accross in this shows. That's not to say tat he works alone on this show. Armando Ianucci was another major contributor to The Day Today's production team. The Show: --------- The basic premise of this show is that it's a news programme, being put out at 9.00 on BBC2 opposite the 9 O'Clock news on BBC1. The familiarity of the sets and features is all there, there are little bulletins and mini documentaries involved and the whole thing could be mistaken for a genuine news broadcast if you were flicking through the channels and went past it. There 6 shows in all, these are available on video - 2 videos gets you the whole set! I can't remember the price but it is VERY WELL WORTH IT! Throughout the shows you get environment news with Rosie Mae, Sports with Alan Partridge ("TWAT.....That was a corker!" - on a great goal which he witnessed.), Business with Collaterly Sisters, International Politics with Peter O'Hanra'Ha'Hanrahan (by far and away my favourite character in this show - he's really thick and gets constantly picked on by Chris Morris, Anchorman) and there's even a Gay report with Colin Popshed. The shows all go through the motions of a typical spoof, look genuine but have a ridiculous content. The stories are incredible, here's some examples of opening headlines: <BONG> Sacked ch
imneysweep pumps Boss full of Mayonaise. <BONG> Where now for man raised by Puffins? There are lots of stupid bits, they keep you laughing throughout and have lead to a great TV career for the likes of Steeve Coogan and Doon Mc????? (sorry - you know who I mean, the tall one out of "Smack the Pony"). I love this show, there's been nothing really to match it on TV for a long time, it's well presented, incredibly funny, very well written and has a lasting quality similar to that of Monty Python. I love Chris Morris - great comic mind who's not afraid of raising a little controversy in what he makes. Get hold of the videos, they're great fun and I guarentee you'll not stop watching them.
If all 'The Day Today' was ever responsible for was the propulsion of Chris Morris, Steve Coogan's Alan Partridge and the team who would later produce 'Friday/Saturday Night Armistice' from radio to the nation's screen then it's place in the history of British Comedy would be safely assured. But 'The Day Today' was so much more in it's own right. Half a viscious and bizarre satire and half a spoof of news programmes, TDT provided a sort of parallel universe to our own. Everything was familiar- war, politics, sport, travel- but skewed through the comic equvalent of a Hall of Mirrors into a collection of outlandishly strange stories such as a cull of royal staff, a train which is stranded causing the passengers to rebel and turn primal and, most memorably of all, a war triggered off by an interview on the show, and followed from the special War Studio which magically appears upon the outbreak of hostilities. The stories themselves are told by a variety box of bonkers reporters, from savage anchorman Chris Morris, through inept correspondant Brian O'Hanrahahanrahan, to enthusiastic sports reporter Alan Partridge. Coogan would take Partridge to greater heights beyond TDT, but his report on the World Cup must rank as a highlight from his career, especially his exclamations upon a goal being scored ("SHIT, he must have a foot like a traction engine" and "Yes, yes, yes, yes yes yes, YEEEESSSSS- that... was a goal". Chris Morris, one of the main writers and the shows anchor, is the star of 'The Day Today' in all respects. He veers from menacing politicians, to reducing charity workers to tears, to flirting with the travel reporter. The mischevious spirit which would lead to 'Brass Eye', and the abstract darkness that would later hatch 'Jaammmmm' were clearly at work here. Most of the show's charm howeverlies in the details. Each show is filled with a
succession of small moments which are a joy to watch again and again- from the bizarre News Dance being performed behind one of Morris' summaries to a blink-and-you'll-miss it Minnie Driver cameo, there's something new to discover with each of the first several viewings. All involved would all go on to more successful ventures, with the exception of Morris who became possibly the greatest maverick working on mainstream British TV today, but the ensmble at work on The Day Today must surely rank as one of the greatest produced in Britain since the Heyday of Python. And, as a bonus the two available videos of The Day Today seem to be perpetually on sale in all Virgin Megastores.
This was a truly inspired and amazing piece of Television that was unbelievably believable! It was a parody of television news that was so close to the truth that many thought it was real - a kind of War of the Worlds effect! Its beauty lay in its accuracy - everything from the overblown graphics to the pointless 'live' inserts and self-important attitude of the reporters. The fact that it was entertaining further added to the point that journos so often think they're there to entertain and there cheap cheesy gags do nothing except make them look like the fools they are. Nothing will ever come close.
Chris Morris' series that aired years ago now is wothout a doubt (in my little mind anyway) the funniest show to have been screened on uk tv. The first time I saw it I remember thinking it was for real, 6 oclock on BBC2, and couldnt beleive my eyes. Only Jam, another Morris creation, has come close to the same 'smack in the face tv' effect. A spoof current affairs programme, the quality of the writing is so good it makes the 11o clock show look amateurish, and Trigger Happy tv and da Ali G show look like the cheap gag shows that they are (even though I love them both) Alan Partridge started life here on the sports desk, but it was Morris himself as the Paxman style newscaster that stole the show. Absolute quality, if you've never seen it, please buy the video cos you'll never laugh so much in your life. Does anyone else out there remember it?