1 9 9 3 (UK)
6 x 30 minute episodes
1 9 9 5 (UK)
4 x 30 minute episodes
This dire comedy series took a look inside the mind of abrasive comic author, prankster, and Evening Standard journalist Victor Lewis-Smith as he lay in a “comic coma” in a BBC-owned hospital following a motorcycle accident. The hospital was essentially a dumping ground for burnt-out broadcasters, scriptwriters, and unwanted TV people.
Throughout the series, Lewis-Smith – encased in a full body cast and subjected to “Edison medicine” (electric shocks to the head) – confronted the dark recesses of his psyche as he embarked on a guided tour of his internal organs via his bloodstream, driven around by a chatty intravenous cab driver (George Raistrick) who doubled as a narrative linking device.
The hospital storyline was woven around a series of comedy sketches that emerged from Lewis-Smith’s subconscious when his life-support system was fed into a television monitor, transforming him into a human video playback machine. The BBC initially planned to replace their broadcasters with his (much cheaper) one-man transmissions but ultimately decided to terminate him.
The result was a bizarre collection of surreal skits wrapped in a situation comedy format.
Each episode featured Lewis-Smith performing his signature phone pranks on some unsuspecting member of the public.
Guest stars included Stanley Unwin, Stephen Lewis, Chris Langham, Michael Winner, Arthur Mullard and Enoch Powell.
Victor Lewis-Smith died in December 2022, aged 65.
Roger Lloyd Pack