1 9 9 8 – 2 0 0 0 (UK)
147 x 30/45/50 minute episodes
This late-night satirical comedy series from Channel 4 was written, recorded and transmitted on the same day as an up-to-the-minute mock news bulletin. It was rude, offensive and disrespectful and often downright cruel, but the targets – predominantly politicians – generally deserved it.
The show escaped censure for sketches mocking the Northern Ireland peace process and references to the deaths of golfer Payne Stewart, TV presenter Jill Dando and Cilla Black’s husband Bobby Willis, but fell foul of the Independent Television Commission for a series of sketches about the Armenian parliament massacre.
While Channel 4 defended the adult nature of the show, the ITC upheld many complaints and said that “no apparent purpose” lay behind the five items about the murders featured on the show.
“Its effect was simply to dwell on recent tragedy and to mock Armenia and the Armenian people.” Following a public outcry, Channel 4 removed the material from its compilation show broadcast subsequently.
Primarily hosted by Daisy Donovan and Iain Lee, the show helped launch the careers of Ricky Gervais, Sacha Baron Cohen (who appeared in 45 episodes as Ali G) and Mackenzie Crook.
Guests included Tommy Vance, Rich Hall, Danny Bhoy, Jason Priestley, Spike Milligan, Ben Miller, Jimmy Carr, Lenny Henry, Tamara Beckwith, Dom Joly, Adrian Edmondson, Paul Whitehouse, Robbie Williams, Vanilla Ice, Keith Chegwin, Michael Winner, Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, Christopher Lee, Suzi Quatro, Glenda Jackson, Edwina Currie, Richard E Grant, Malcolm McLaren, Ben Elton, Uri Geller, Jason Donovan and Samantha Fox.
Sacha Baron Cohen
The Style Wankers
Vim Van Der Laar