Brass Eye (1997–2001)

TV Series   |  TV-MA   |    |  Comedy

Episode Guide
Brass Eye (1997) Poster

Controversal spoof of current affairs television, and the role of celebrity in the UK.

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  • Brass Eye (1997)
  • Brass Eye (1997)
  • Bruno Brookes in Brass Eye (1997)
  • Brass Eye (1997)
  • Christopher Morris in Brass Eye (1997)
  • Brass Eye (1997)

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4 July 2006 | Ricky_Roma__
One of the funniest shows ever made
One of my favourite bits in Brass Eye is during the 'Crime' episode when celebrities record video messages for criminals. They're hosted by Tommy Vance, who spouts hilarious dribble about "foaming nut-brown ale", but the best bit is when he introduces a message intended for murderers – "You are a murderer," he says with an attempt at gravity, "and I can only pray to God that you watch and you listen very carefully to this." We then cut to Vanessa Feltz who, with complete sincerity and self-righteous fury, delivers one of the funniest monologues in history - she plays the part of a murdered individual. "Do you even know what a feeling is? I do but I can't have any more because of you. I hate you." Her acting alone is enough to have me cracking up ("Look into my eyes, murderer") but I love the thought that she delivered this message fully believing that it would be shown to convicted criminals. Could you just imagine it? The laughter from the prisons would engulf the British Isles.

But seeing celebrities humiliated is one of the primary joys of Brass Eye. In every episode we're confronted with their stupidity, their need for attention and their unthinking desire to promote 'good' causes. It's amazing that not one of them listens to what they're saying. I mean, whether it's Paul Daniels talking about an elephant having its trunk stuck up its anus, or Noel Edmonds talking about the evils of Cake, or Nick Owen talking about "sodomised electrons"; none of them question the information they're given. And it's not like the practical jokes are subtle. Just take Dr Fox. He spouts the following: "Genetically, paedophiles have more genes in common with crabs than they do with you and me. Now that is scientific fact. There's no real evidence for it, but it is scientific fact." Only a simpleton in desperate need of an ego stroke could say that with a straight face.

Therefore it's nothing but a pleasure to see the celebrities ridiculed. And another marvellous piece is when Richard Blackwood tells us that paedophiles can make keyboards release gasses that make children suggestible. And yet another great moment is when Stephen Berkoff gives us a demonstration of 'heavy electricity'. He really gets into his speech, smashing toy figures. But what I love is that after he bashes a human figurine he charmingly says, "That could be your mother." If I remember right that line was used when the programme was first advertised, and that line delivery was what got me watching the programme in the first place. But the most devious anti-celebrity piece is when a poem by Nicolas Parsons is re-edited in such a way that he says the following: "Aren't we a bunch of f***wits? An elephant could no more get its trunk stuck up its arse than we could lick our balls." Says it all really.

But Brass Eye is a lot more than just a rant against celebrity. It's also a merciless spoof of television news broadcasting. And the accuracy in which the programme apes the news, what with its pointless graphics, dramatic music and sensationalism, is undoubtedly what got it into trouble with the gutter press – it was too near the bone. Take the paedophile episode. If you read the Daily Mail you probably think it's 'evil'. But instead it's just showing how the news trivialises important issues for the sake of a few lurid headlines. And it also depicts the media's relentless fear mongering. At one point we're told that a paedophile has been getting away with attacking children by dressing as a school. And there's a hilarious segment about a pervert called Jez North. The skit features a reconstruction Crime Watch would be proud of and then even though the paedophile gets a nonce bashing, and is therefore "quadra-spazzed on a life-glug", we're asked whether we can be sure that "pervert mechanics" can't build him a "rooboplaegic wrong-cock." The news loves fear.

However, as great as the paedophile episode is, 'Sex' probably makes me laugh the most. It opens with lurid music and a couple of naked figures. We then see that it's Christopher Morris taking a woman from behind. For a moment he stops, saying "If this were really happening, what you would think?" but when we cut to the studio, and a now suited Morris starts talking, we can see the other Morris on a television screen resuming his banging with gusto. It's a cheap laugh but they all count.

Another fantastic piece in that episode is during a The Time the Place/Kilroy-style debate. Morris talks to a girl who saw her parents killed by a frozen dog falling on them while they were "making sex". He asks the kid whether it will give her psychosexual problems later in life. It just beautifully captures the heartless way those programmes use their guests.

But the best bit in the episode, and one of the most famous sketches in the series, is the "Good AIDS, Bad AIDS" piece. It starts off with Morris patronising his guest ("Who says AIDS guys can't do tough stuff? This guy's got AIDS and he's about to beat me in an arm wrestling match") and then it ends with him berating the AIDS guy for having 'bad' variety of the syndrome ("What if someone shoots you with a machine gun? Anyone yawning will get your infected blood in their mouth"). Again, it's a perfect copy of those simplistic, moralising, rightwing debate shows that used to infest daytime television.

But I really can't adequately express how great the programme is. And there's so much other funny stuff that I haven't got room to mention – the American news pieces are priceless. Foaming nut-brown ale for everyone involved.

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