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Taking The Flak: It's War

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Lucy McDermott | 19:17 UK time, Monday, 6 July 2009

Taking The Flak is a brand new comedy drama following a team of journalists in an African war zone. They are in a state of perpetual danger, not just from bombs, but their colleagues too!

Co-written and co-produced by experienced, award-winning journalists and comedy writers.
Taking the Flak includes cameo appearances from real BBC News anchors, and starring performances from Doon Mackichan, and Martin Jarvis as veteran reporter David Bradburn.


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Taking The Flak starts this Weds 8th July at 21:00 on BBC 2 and we've asked BBC War Correspondant Ben Brown to review the series for us.

Ben-Brown-headshot2.jpgTaking the Flak is not only hilarious, it's a devastating satire of TV news. Where 'Drop the Dead Donkey' mocked the newsroom and preening presenters in the studio, this show focuses on the team in the field, and succeeds to brilliant effect. I've spent two decades as a BBC foreign correspondent, and I recognised all the characters and the situations - Taking the Flak is sometimes frighteningly true to life. Central to the first episode, is the 'big footing' of Harry, the hapless local stringer in Karibu, a war torn mini-state in the heart of Africa. Big footing is what junior reporters fear more than bombs and bullets - it's when a star reporter is parachuted into their patch, and effectively grabs the story off them. I've seen this moment many times, first as victim and then as perpetrator and believe me, Harry's despair is scarcely exaggerated. His nemesis is the BBC's veteran reporter David Bradburn who flies in to grab the glory as Karibu is engulfed in a highly televisual civil war. Perhaps the most wonderful moment in the first episode is when David Bradburn (Martin Jarvis), having crushed Harry underfoot, is on the hotel roof and about to go live into the One O'Clock News. It suddenly dawns on him that he doesn't actually have a clue

David Bradburn.jpgwhat's going on. He demands a thirty second resume of the political situation from a nearby waiter and then regurgitates it down the satellite link to Sophie Raworth. How many 'two-ways' like this have been based on similar hasty 'briefings' - if not from a waiter, then certainly from a taxi driver on the road in from the airport? Throw in some wonderful 'what-on-the-road-stays-on-the-road' sex, and a charity worker who is uncannily like the 'aid babes' I used to come across in Africa, and you have the most real but also the most side-splittingly funny series about the news business I've ever seen. In the news business, we sometimes take ourselves far too seriously: it might be hard to after this.

Ben Brown has also written the Novel 'Sandstealers' based on his experience as a War Correspondant. ISBN number: 978-0-00-728014-8.


  • Comment number 1.


    Having read many war correspondent's books, I looked forward to watching this new programme. A satirical take on journalists in this environment has great potential. The comedic opportunities, such as asking the hotel waiter for the country's political and economic background before filing a report, are many and the basic idea behind the programme is brilliant. Sadly, the programme collapsed on itself. It just didn't work. That's a shame, because a great opportunity has been wasted.

  • Comment number 2.

    Sorry, Richard, but I totally disagree!

    TTF was one of the funniest things I have seen on telly in ages! Slightly slapstick, plenty of jokes and a good all round belly laugh. The minefield scene was brilliant and the show moves at a great pace.

    Maybe you were expecting it to be a bit more highbrow? Give it a second view... there are lots of gems in unexpected places.

  • Comment number 3.

    I will, never, ever be able to watch a foreign news report again, however serious it might be, without the image of David Bradburn and all the characters from the programme coming to mind! I can see a composite of Simpson, Bell, Snow, Bowen, and others in Martin Jarvis's brilliant characterisation but the real stars of the story are surely the much put upon but essential locals and Beeb camera and support team, Margaret's listing of the technical specs of various tanks etc as they rolled overhead was an absolute joy! Sorry Damien Day, move over mate!!! The Beeb must take this to another series at least, pleeeaaassseee!

  • Comment number 4.

    This show isn't funny at all. The last episode I saw didn't even have any jokes in. This is as bad as the last news spoof that the BBC did. Can't remember what it was called (the idea was that you were channel hoping through spoof news - wasn't funny). Obviously the DAY TODAY and BRASSEYE were works of genius. Taking the flak is a great idea badly done.


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