Home Television Comedy World In Ferment

World In Ferment

1 9 6 9 (UK)
6 x 30 minute episodes

This short BBC2 comedy series was a send-up of news magazine programmes, produced by Ned Sherrin of That Was The Week That Was fame.

The presenter, Nancy Chuff (Angela Thorne), was a sort of blonde Joan Bakewell; reporters Doug Searchbaker (Jack Shepherd) and Chris Champers (Dinsdale Landen) performed in the styles of Alan Whicker and Sheridan Morley respectively, and the resident expert Gerald Pikestaff (John Bird) looked like all the explainers on Man Alive rolled into one.

These were all accurate enough portraits to be recognisable, but somehow too kind and too gentle to make them memorable as comic variations on the nightly news theme.

Many of the jokes had a recurrent theme of identity confusion – civil servants imitating opera singers at the dole office, for example – and dogs who changed their breeds (bassets into poodles, old English sheepdogs into cats) but the humour never seemed to develop much beyond the basic premise.

The highlight of the show each week was arguably Irene Handl as Madame Astoria, recalling her experiences as The First Lady of Woolworths. Unfortunately, Eleanor Bron’s everlasting folk singer, Nancy Chuff’s pretty pomposity and jokey, flashed-up subtitles didn’t really compare.

Guests in the six episodes included Queenie Watts, Patsy Rowlands, Roy Kinnear, Dudley Moore, Wilfred Pickles, Gordon Rollings, Arthur Lowe, Dandy Nichols, Moyra Fraser and Margaret Nolan.

Nancy Chuff
Angela Thorne
Chris Champers
Dinsdale Landen
Doug Searchbaker
Jack Shepherd
Gerald Pikestaff
John Bird
Hildegarde Schindelstein
Eleanor Bron
Madame Astoria
Irene Handl