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30 August 2014
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The Day Today

Chris Morris on The Day Today

Without doubt the most important satirical show of the 1990s.

The Day Today was the programme that - under writer/producer Armando Iannucci - launched the talents of  Patrick Marber, Doon Mackichan, Steve Coogan, Rebecca Front and, of course, Chris Morris firmly into the public eye.

Steve Coogan as Alan Partridge

It was a sign of the times that, where series such as That Was The Week That Was and Not the Nine O'Clock News dealt with current affairs, The Day Today focused with laser-like intensity upon the current affairs media.

Each episode was presented as a very real news programme, right down to the ludicrously overblown graphics that appeared between each item (whose creators had, incidentally, just finished designing the graphics for the ITN News) and was presided over by Chris Morris in the sneeringly macho style of a youthful Jeremy Paxman. 

While Morris bellowed out news headlines about thefts of the pound and its replacement by an emergency currency based on the Queen's eggs, the rest of the show was delivered by a cast of news-programme stereotypes still instantly recognisable today.

Doon Mackichan as Collaterie Sisters

Collaterlie Sisters (Mackichan) was the epitome of the shoulder-padded business correspondent, bombarding viewers with unintelligible graphics and technobabble about the pound's decline on the Currency Kidney.

American Correspondent Barbara Wintergreen (Front) was the true stars-and-stripes-too-much-make-up-and-dodgy-puns reporter instantly recognisable from genuine US news coverage.

Economics correspondent Peter O'Hanraha-hanrahan (Marber), meanwhile was uselessness personified, constantly blown away by the verbal grenades chucked at him by Morris from a great height.

Patrick Marber as Jacques Liveot

Add to this bearded eco-correspondent Rosie May (Front), the physical cartoons of rubber-faced Brant (Schneider), postmodernist French commentator Jacques "Jacques" Liverot (Marber) and, of course, the immortal sports-correspondent Alan Partridge (Coogan) plus stories about John Major's feud with the Queen, trapped passengers on a crashed train turning to paganism and a war between Hong Kong and Australia provoked by Morris and you have the makings of a comic legend.

The Day Today was undoubtedly brilliant but it was more than capable of being a little self-satisfied at times, exemplified by the plentiful in-jokes for the mediarati (such as Morris's "fact me until I fart" line in one episode) which must have mystified outsiders.

Again, where Chris Morris's later stitch-ups of politicians, pop stars and pundits on Brass Eye were fair game, watching him getting ordinary members of the public to say dumb-assed things in the show's regular "Speak Your Brains" Vox Pops can feel a lot like watching a smart public school sixth-former mocking the oiks.

Rebecca Front as Barbara Wintergreen

Being a satirical sketch show rather than a sitcom, the programme also lacked the emotional intelligence of successor programmes such as Knowing Me, Knowing You and I'm Alan Partridge. 

Despite such criticism, The Day Today brought some major figures of stage and screen to the nation's attention as well as defining the approach to satire for the next two decades - a record only comic icons like That Was The Week That Was and Not the Nine O'Clock News can match.

Not bad for a mere six episodes, eh?

Cast

Steve Coogan
performer
Rebecca Front
performer
Doon Mackichan
performer
Patrick Marber
performer
Chris Morris
performer
David Schneider
performer

Crew

Chris Morris
writer
David Schneider
writer
Steve Coogan
writer
Rebecca Front
writer
Armando Iannucci
writer
Doon Mackichan
writer
Patrick Marber
writer
Andrew Gillman
director
Armando Iannucci
producer

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