- Brass Eye
Brass Eye Format Mockumentary Created by Chris Morris Starring Chris Morris Country of origin United Kingdom No. of episodes 7 Production Running time 25 min Broadcast Original channel Channel 4 Original run 29 January 1997 – 26 July 2001
The series was created by Chris Morris, and written by him, David Quantick, Peter Baynham, Jane Bussmann, Arthur Mathews and Graham Linehan. It was a sequel to Morris's earlier spoof news programmes On the Hour and The Day Today. It satirised media portrayal of social ills, in particular sensationalism and creation of moral panics. The series starred Morris's The Day Today colleague Doon MacKichan and Gina McKee, Mark Heap, Simon Pegg, Julia Davis and Kevin Eldon.
Original series (1997)
Brass Eye aroused controversy because public figures were fooled into supporting fictitious, and often absurd, charities and causes.
The second episode was called "Drugs" and is one of the most successful. A voice tells viewers there are so many drugs on the streets that "not even the dealers know them all". An undercover reporter (Morris) asks a purportedly real-life drug dealer in London for fictitious drugs, including Triple-sod, Yellow Bentines and Clarky Cat, leaving the dealer puzzled and irritated. He also asks the dealer if he is the Boz-Boz and says he doesn't want his arm to feel "like a couple of fortnights in a bad balloon". Later, Morris dressed as a baby with a nappy on and a red balloon-like hat on his head and again asked for Triple-sod and then says "last time I came here a friend of mine just got triple-jacked over a steeplehammer and jessop jessop jessop jessop jessop". He explained that possession of drugs without physical contact and the exchange of drugs through a mandrill were legal.
David Amess, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Basildon, was fooled into filming an elaborate video warning against the dangers of a fictional Eastern European drug called Cake and asked a question about it in Parliament. The drug purportedly affected an area of the brain called Shatner's Bassoon (altering your perception of time), can give you a bloated neck due to massive water retention (allegedly known in by-then-dissolved Czechoslovakia as "Czech Neck") and was frequently referred to as "a made-up drug" (a drug, they were told, not made from plants but made up from chemicals).
Sir Bernard Ingham, Noel Edmonds and Rolf Harris held the yellow cake-sized pill as they talked, with Bernard Manning telling viewers that "One kiddy on Cake cried all the water out of his body. Just imagine how his mother felt. It's a fucking disgrace" and that "…you can puke your fucking self to death [on this stuff] — one girl threw up her own pelvis-bone… What a fucking disgrace". Manning, with other participants, told the public that Cake was known on the street as "loonytoad quack", "Joss Ackland's spunky backpack", "ponce on the heath", "rustledust" or "Hattie Jacques pretentious cheese wog", and told anyone offered it to "chuck it back in their face and tell them to fuck off".
Other episodes dealt with science, animals and sex. Morris posed as a talk-show host in favour of those with "good" AIDS from a contaminated blood transfusion against those with "bad AIDS" caught through sexual activity or drugs.
Repeats and DVD release
The series was repeated in 2001 to tie in with the paedophilia special (see below), and released on DVD in a revised form. This new version reinstated most of the material cut from the original, although a few items were removed, most notably a subliminal message reading "Grade is a cunt", and an interview with Graham Bright MP in the "Drugs" episode. A disclaimer was also added to the "Drugs" episode at the request of David Amess.
Paedophilia special (2001)
The series was repeated in 2001 along with a new show. It tackled paedophilia and the moral panic in parts of the British media following the death of Sarah Payne, focusing on the name-and-shame campaign of the News of the World. This included an incident in 2000 in which a paediatrician in Newport had the word 'PAEDO' daubed in yellow paint on her home.
Gary Lineker and Phil Collins endorsed a spoof charity, Nonce Sense, ("nonce" is British slang for people convicted or suspected of molestation or sexual crimes), Collins saying, "I'm talking Nonce Sense!" Tomorrow's World presenter Philippa Forrester and ITN reporter Nicholas Owen were tricked into explaining the details of HOECS (pronounced "hoax") computer games, which online paedophiles were using to abuse children via the Internet. Capital Radio DJ Neil "Doctor" Fox told viewers that "paedophiles have more genes in common with crabs than they do with you and me", adding "Now that is scientific fact — there's no real evidence for it — but it is scientific fact".
Lineker described paedophile text slang, claiming "BALTIMORA" translates to "literally, I'm running at them now with my trousers down." Labour MP Syd Rapson said paedophiles were using "an area of internet the size of Ireland". Richard Blackwood said internet paedophiles can make computer keyboards emit noxious fumes to subdue children. Blackwood sniffed a keyboard and said he smelt the fumes, which made him feel "suggestible"; Blackwood also warned watching parents that exposure to the fumes would make their children "smell like hammers".
The studio was "invaded" by a fictional militant pro-paedophile activism organisation called Milit-pede and the programme appeared to suffer a short technical disturbance. When it returned, presenter Chris Morris confronted a spokesman, Gerard Chote (played by Simon Pegg) who has been placed in a pillory. He asked if he wants sex with Morris's six-year-old son. Hesitantly, the spokesman refused, apologetically explaining "I don't fancy him". Morris said the child was not present but added digitally. The scene led to a media backlash.
Around 2000 complaints were received and politicians spoke out against Morris. Beverley Hughes described the show as "unspeakably sick" but later admitted she had not seen it, and David Blunkett said he was "dismayed" by it. Tessa Jowell, after watching, asked the Independent Television Commission to reinstate censorship to ban similar programmes. There was also a tabloid campaign against Morris, who refused to discuss the issue. The Daily Star decried Morris and the show, placing the story next to a separate article about the 15-year-old singer Charlotte Church's breasts under the headline "She's a big girl now". The Daily Mail pictured Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, who were 13 and 11, in their bikinis next to a headline describing Brass Eye as "Unspeakably Sick". Defenders of the show argued that media reaction to the show reinforced its satire of the media's hysteria and hypocrisy on the subject of paedophilia.
The episode won a Broadcast magazine award in 2002.
- "Animals" (29 January 1997)
- "Drugs" (5 February 1997)
- "Science" (12 February 1997)
- "Sex" (19 February 1997)
- "Crime" (26 February 1997)
- "Decline" (5 March 1997)
- "Paedogeddon!" (26 July 2001)
- Carla Lane
- Sir Peregrine Worsthorne
- Oliver Skeete
- Jilly Cooper (via phone only)
- Britt Ekland
- Paul Daniels
- Nicholas Parsons
- Alexandra Paul (via phone only)
- Eve Pollard
- Tania Bryer
- John McCririck
- Tamara Beckwith
- Richard Briers
- Nick Owen
- Steven Berkoff
- Lynne Franks
- Jenny Powell
- Caesar the Geezer
- Hugh Dennis (playing a role)
- Sir Rhodes Boyson
- "Mad" Frankie Fraser
- Tommy Vance
- Geoffrey Boycott
- Michael Winner
- Vanessa Feltz
- David Sullivan
- ^ Parliamentary question raised by David Amess MP
- ^ Paediatrician attacks 'ignorant' vandals, BBC News, 30 August 2000
- ^ Programme causes predictable storm, BBC News, 30 July 2001
- ^ TV spoof to bring tougher regulation, Lucy Ward, The Guardian, 30 July 2001
- ^ Perv Spoof Bosses Axe Wrestling, copy of article from the Daily Star, 2001
- ^ a b c Why Chris Morris had to make Brass Eye, Euan Ferguson, The Observer, 5 August 2001
- ^ Conlan, Tara. "The brass neck of Brass Eye". Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-71158/The-brass-neck-Brass-Eye.html. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
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