- Casualty: Boiling Point (1993): The last ep of that year’s series, and one that caused a lot of controversy at the time for the violence and general unpleasantness; the BBC eventually said that the ep had “gone too far”, which is fucking ridiculous. It was shown later than usual – 9:30pm, after the watershed – and the continuity announcement (which I also saw; it was an off-air) warned everyone about the ep to follow: “This episode features riot scenes of some power and impact.” The BBC’s reponse was ridiculous and cowardly.
The ep itself is brilliant – I urge you to go and see it if you get the chance. Alan Yentob said at the time that “I would say that on this occasion Casualty and the Casualty team didn’t get it right” – on the contrary – it got pretty much everything right. Put simply: a riot on a housing estate escalates to the point where the youths blow up the A&E department. The image of a patient, in the middle of an emergency operation, with fire and smoke all round and the medical staff trying their best to save him, hands covered in blood – and then the sprinklers come on – will remain etched in my memory for some considerable time.
- Dave Allen at Large (1976): Excellent fun. I’ve never really seen much Dave Allen before – it was slightly worrying how many sketches revolved around COMEDY DEATH. Incidentally, unlike Casualty, I got a lovely old-style BBC chalkboard VT clock with this one. Where the proggies are sourced from must vary from programme to programme.
- Spitting Image Election Special (1987): Complete with VT clock for Part 1 (hooray!) – but edited to remove them from Parts Two and Three (Boo!).
Anyway: superb. 45 mins long, and broadcast at 10pm on Thursday 11th June 1987 – after the polls had closed, so it didn’t affect the outcome. It had a bit of a slow first part, but from the entire Labour leadership singing ‘We’re useless’ onwards, it couldn’t be faulted. I particularly like the following joke (vastly paraphrased): “So, what will the next Parliament look like? Well, here’s a picture of it here, as you can see, it looks absolutely the same, there’s no structural change at all…”
And, of course, it’s that last one that justifies this OD post. And yes, I’m just getting to the interesting part. The blurb in the booklet listing all the TV Heaven proggies says that “The concluding sketch from this special has been removed for legal reasons.” Sure enough, the programme ended rather abruptly; from the end of one of the sketches, straight to a Central endcap – no end credits at all. Why?
Luckily, I picked up the factsheet on the programme, which gives the whole sorry tale:
“The Spitting Image Election Special 87 (shown only after the polls closed to avoid it swaying opinion) is sadly incomplete for legal reasons. The last sketch, which portrays the Tory party as Nazis and a member of the Hitler Youth (a real boy, not a puppet) with pinstripes, an umbrella, and Union Jack singing the song Tomorrow Belongs To Me from the musical Cabaret has been removed. The reason for this is that the song had only been cleared for transmission in Britain and in breach of contract it was apparently transmitted in error on Superchannel – a satellite station broadcasting to much of Europe. The matter was settled out of court but part of the agreement was that the offending sketch shouldn’t be reshown. This is a shame as it had the credits running through it and was probably one of the best and most chilling pieces of Spitting Image ever, particularly the final moment in which the wild eyed Thatcher puppet fills the screen to tell the audience tomorrow is hers. Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye states that he stopped writing for the series after this programme feeling it couldn’t be bettered.”
To which I can only say:
- That sketch sounds bloody fantastic, and
- What a great, great shame that the piece can’t even be shown in a museum as a piece of history. (Although no doubt an off-air from the time is in circulation.)
Fucking hell, I bloody ramble.