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2004: The Stupid Version
Review of the Year shows have become a regular tradition in the festive TV schedules but Armando Iannucci's hilarious, jilted look back at 2004 was a very different animal indeed.
In a year that included a US Presidential Election, the Hutton Report's publication and the Athens Olympics, Iannucci was offered a rich choice of satirical targets and The Stupid Version took full advantage.
Brought in to comment on the year's top stories were a panel of some of the country's top TV comedians (including Adam Buxton, Stewart Lee, Matt Holness and Richard Ayoade), whose soundbites formed a timely satirical riposte to the 'talking heads' who were flooding the banal but ubiquitous "I Love…" style programmes.
These interview segments were not only funny themselves, but provided the glue to link together a wide range of sketches which showcased ingenious re-editing of archive clips, including memorably transforming a George Bush US election debate performance into a rendition of Frank Sinatra's New York, New York.
Equally impressive was a well-judged sprinkling of special effects to bring to life such images as an elephant running loose inside parliament and the dangers posed by the poorly designed Diana Memorial Fountain (notably its field of live landmines).
Other original ideas included mocking up a reality TV show starring Tessa Sanderson, Ian McCaskill and Paul Daniels' son Martin without actually filming it and 'interviewing' former contestants on BBC game shows who revealed the awful truth about Dale Winton and Anne Robinson ("somebody brought into the green room a basket of puppies, which she killed with a hammer").
Condensing the events of the year into a giddying hour of comedy, 2004: The Stupid Version was one of the freshest seasonal shows for a long time and proved to be a prototype for the brilliantly inventive humour that Iannucci was to use again later in future-based comedy Time Trumpet.
Note: The Stupid Version was initially broadcast as a 60 minute show on BBC Three, before being later repeated on BBC Two in a 40-minute cut.
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