As part of Funny Fortnight celebrations, we thought it’d be a good idea to look back at some of TVO’s favourite moments in the history of Channel 4. Here’s Velveteer Paulyne’s take on the controversial classic, Brass Eye.
If anyone amongst our extensive list of acts would be considered a pioneer, it would be Chris Morris. And when Morris is mentioned, there are a few words that come to mind, controversy, outrage and utter genius (okay that is 2 words).
Brass Eye began this distinct reputation for Chris, after creating The Day Today in 1994; a spoof news show with some out of this world headlines such as “Fist Headed Man Distroys Church”, and some very recognisable baby-faced faces for us (Steve Coogan as Alan Partridge), Morris then moved on to Brass Eye from 1997; a spin-off show which took spoof current affairs to the next level, up a few notches and then dusted off with some extra offences.
With more of our favourite stars making some stellar appearances, not even with co-writer Graham Linehan included (Julia Davis, Kevin Eldon, and even Jam‘s Mark Heap, and Bill Bailey amongst others!), the show gained a cult fanbase.
Each episode covering a different topic – Animals, covering an Elephant whose trunk got trapped in her anus. Drugs, which discusses the drug Cake that can make you cry all the water out of your body. Science, where you can find out about the woman who gave birth to a 2 Foot testicle. Sex, which can answer the question is sex “A sumptuous glam babe in a hall of donkeys”. Crime, with talks about “Pistol Apostles”. And Decline, covering Noel Edmunds’ killing rampage!
Even though the series had up to 1.5 million viewers on average, during the making of the show however Channel 4 still felt the need to intervene and demanded a plethora of drastic cuts. Chris Morris, never one to miss an opportunity for some outcry, had the not-so subliminal message ‘Grade Is A Cunt’ flash up during the original airing of the Drugs episode – aiming his attack at Michael Grade who fronted the demand for the many cuts and changes. The message was then removed for the DVD release and the re-airing of the series in 2001 for the Paedophile Special.
Just when audiences thought that Morris would not be given a second chance, Channel 4 commissioned a Christmas special in 2001. The episode covered a detailed analysis on the brains of paedophiles in ‘Paedogeddon‘ and as always, had well-known figures back up these findings (for example, did you know that the paedophiles brain has more genes in common with crabs than to you and me. And that they also have the ability to eject a gas out of children’s computer keyboards to control them…). People including Phil Collins and Gary Linekar contributed to a video promoting Nonce-Sense, the charity endorsing these alleged facts.
The episode received over 2000 complaints and the tricked celebrities were so outraged that there were attempts to have the show banned; thankfully the further 3000 and beyond positive comments meant that we are still able to enjoy the wonders of Morris today and forever more.
If you like a show with a real fire in it’s belly then this may well have been what started it all off. Brass Eye not only has the genuis of it’s writers behind it, but also the addition of some brilliantly hilarious contributors. Kevin Eldon and Julia Davis’ performances show the roots of what was soon to be the dark humour of Human Remains and Nighty Night. It was certainly a show that sparked discussion and we don’t see any reason for that to stop any time soon!