Thursday, 16 October 2008

An Appeal To Make BBC Four* Better (*Or More4)

Rather wonderfully, television's finest satirical news programme is back on the air down under, and is currently 30% of the way through a third series. That'll mean thirty episodes in just over twelve months. On the Australian equivalent of BBC Four. Good news for the people already living in a marvellously sunny nation with affordable housing and cheap alcohol. Meanwhile, the comedy output on our equivalent of BBC Four (which would be, erm, BBC Four) is mainly restricted to repeats of That Mitchell And Webb Look and Flight Of The Conchords. All very good, but both have been broadcast before. What about something new? Even if you can't afford to make new and decent comedy, why not import something from the antipodes? Like, say, the programme we mentioned just a few sentences ago? More4 has The Daily Show. The only way to strike a comparable blow is to land the rights to Newstopia.

(Alternatively, hey More4! You know the weeks when The Daily Show isn't on? Well, you've left it too late the nab the rights to The Colbert Report, so stop sitting on your hands and get hold of Newstopia. Once you trim out the swearing, if you really must, it'd be perfect for that 8.30pm slot.)

Here, in this picture special, we'll highlight some of the reasons why Newstopia should be shown over here, where we're not founded by convicts.

In ep 3.01, there's a gag about Premier League football. While it does mess up a bit by claiming Manchester United are about to play "The Rangers", that's perfectly understandable given that Shaun Micallef admitted (in a clip of his radio show that we've heard) to knowing nothing about non-Aussie Rules football, and having attended an A-League match for the first time, earnestly referred to the break after forty-five minutes as 'the interval'.

A practical demonstration of applying make-up to a pig after a piece about Barack Obama's recent comment.

A reference to Hole In The Wall being an insult to the intelligence of everyone watching the network that airs it. A good thing for BBC Four viewers feeling the need for validation.

A report from America about opinion polls that doesn't really work as a screen grab.

A spoof story about offsetting carbon footprints that ends with Shaun Micallef dressed as an old woman dancing a jig around a bonfire.

A wonderful James Stewart impersonation in a piece about the financial quagmire we're all in.

Second unit shots of London used for a special pisstake of an advert we don't see over here.

Jokes about the current situation in Africa that only World News Today viewers are likely to understand, and therefore will feel all superior about, which they'll undoubtably love.

All those are just from the first two episodes of series three of Newstopia. We're going to put up fresh examples every week until the show is being broadcast on Tuesday nights at 10pm. The Book Quiz can easily be shoved elsewhere, no-one will miss it.

(Note to readers expecting live line-chart coverage of the third US Presidential debate: If CNN International can't be bothered with it until twenty minutes before kick-off, nothing too exciting is going to happen, even if Wolf Blitzer promises to dye his beard red or blue depending on the outcome. We will still be doing an all-night US Election Night Blog once stuff starts actually happening, though.)

16 .:

Denbigh said...

The "Australia for the taking" ad was a real ad for a real show on SBS.

Raffles Or Someone said...

Third series? The ("Borrents" - Ed) are still telling me they only have S1. Where's the rest of it? FUME.

Mark X said...

Denbigh - Ah, that makes more sense considering Newstopia's modest budget.

Raffles Or Someone - Your best bet would be the newsgroup (although ep 3 has yet to surface there, so try alt.binaries.multimedia for that). Or fly to Australia each Wednesday to watch it, like I do, because I understand that watching television programmes pilfered from the internet is CRIME.

Raffles Or Someone said...

Your quaint suggestion worked and I have now seen 3.3, but there's no sign of series 2 anywhere so my custom lockpicks, devil-may-care insouciance and badly written short stories are useless. There *was* a series 2, wasn't there?

Mark X said...

Series two (and indeed, series one) is currently up for grabs on Demonoid. However, Demonoid is invite only, which might be beyond your gentleman-thiefly ways. There's a good chance it's up on dedicated Australian, erm, completely legal content site, which excitingly is allowing new registrations for the first time in, well, forever. However, having just signed up, the activation email seems to be arriving by ship.

A grand total of two underwhelming answers to your question, there.

Raffles Or Someone said...

Splendid. I'm trying now (which, according to the FAQ, doesn't have e-mail activation activated, so you ought to be able to log on anyway). Good work, Micallef-impoverishing electro-peterman.

Mark X said...

Hmm. I've tried to log in to Diwana, and it's telling me I need to respond to the activation email that my email program claims it hasn't seen. Even after me requesting Diwana resend said email twice. It's likely Gmail doesn't want to work with it, so I'll employ plan 'C'.

(Plan 'B' was, of course, "making a nice cup of tea and hoping everything sorts itself out".)

James said...

I should probably ask this now, while the idea is still fresh in my mind - is Newstopia in any way connected to CNNNN (probably not the right number of 'N's) - that was an Australian show, and from the description I read, was more of a The Day Today knockoff.

Raffles Or Someone said...

Mark X, you are correct; diwana is BLATANTLY LYING about not needing an activation e-mail and is also SNOBBISHLY IGNORING gmail. However, I have successfully made off with The Shaun Micallef Programmmmmmmmmme from an unlocked public tracker which I am now enjoying. I cannot help but wonder whatever happened to the star, Shaun Micallef-Programme. Perhaps you could write a feature.

Mark X said...

James: No, Newstopia isn't directly connected to CNNNN, although it's probably fair to say that without the roaring antipodean success of CNNNN spin-off "The Chaser's War on Everything", Newstopia may well never have been commissioned. And one of the Chaser crew was a guest in an episode of Newstopia.

From what I've seen of it (one episode), The Chaser's War on Everything is well worth tracking down. I'd loosely liken it to an amalgam of The Saturday Night Armistice and Fantasy Football League, but with a bigger budget (and broader remit) than both combined. It even warranted a special report by BBC News 24 around the time of the Australian election last year.

Raffles: In case it's the Paramount UK compilations of The Micallef P(r)ogram(me) that you've hit with your digital blunderbuss, it's possibly worth considering the Micallef In A Box box set of all three full Aussie series, with extra uncut jokes about John Howard and ABC. Going by this website - - it's around £24.30 to import to the UK (but may well be cheaper elsewhere), which is a decent price for (checks) 800 minutes of Micallefian splendour. That's a lot cheaper than what I'd paid to get all three series individually. Bah.

Mark X said...

Also! It's worth mentioning that Shaun Micallef was also co-creator, co-writer and co-producer of Australian cop-drama series Blackjack, which I'm quite sure UKTV still hold the rights to, so it may well crop up on Alibi once they run out of Silent Witness episodes.

Russ said...

God Bless Shaun Micallef, and all who sail in him.

Mark X said...

Exciting Diwana update: While the registration certainly doesn't accept Gmail addresses (although it does everything it can to convince you that it will), it does work with, which is another free webmail service.

Diwana seems very promising, too. Interesting curios so far include Australia's Naughtiest Home Videos (not worthwhile in itself, but notorious for being the short-lived television show in global history, being yanked off-air partway through the first episode at the behest of a furious channel controller and never seen again), I Am Bob (where "Bob Geldof is accidentally stranded by an incompetent chauffeur in a run-down motel in Northern England. To his horror, he discovers a lookalike contest is taking place, and no-one will believe he is the real Bob Geldof."), some early Chaser, a new Wayne Hope sitcom, and all manner of other things from Australia and New Zealand.

Mark X said...

Here's a version 1.1 patch for that previous comment.


That is all.

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