The Day Today

4 stars


14th September 2004

Russia have elected a cobweb, Hugh Scully is menacing citizens of a local town and John Major has just punched the Queen in the face - it can only be the twisted brain-wrongs of Chris Morris and his news factory The Day Today. Spiritual successor to radio show On The Hour and predecessor to the razor-sharp BrassEye, The Day Today was Morris's first televisual outing and saw him spewing ultra-news from every available orifice. It's a format that's been well-worn since, but the poker-faced sincerity and utter lunacy of The Day Today means it's aged superbly well.

The beauty of The Day Today wasn't down to its ridiculous stories (including Police frying alive criminals and a brace of bombdogs terrorising a local shopping centre) but the manner in which they're reported - Morris's shark-like eyes and sharp tongue belching news down your throat along with eye-shattering graphics showcasing baffling statistics and wonderfully irreverent factoids. In fact, compare Sky TV's coverage of the recent Iraq War to that of Morris's battlefield newsbursts and suddenly the swooping graphics and on-location reports don't look quite so exaggerated after all. It's the War episode that shines most out of the six recorded, with a Paxman-style Morris goading two foreign ministers into conflict (despite having just signed an historic peace treaty). Cue the flashy graphics, bomb-mounted smart cam and Susanna Gekkaloise, reporting from inside the war like some crazy Trojan.

Alongside the news felches, there's weather from the floating head of Sylvester Stewart, Enviromation with Rosie Mae (her teats are green, drink them), currency with Collatalie Sisters (with an in-depth look at today's finance arse) and sport, with Alan Partridge in his first TV appearance. Coogan's Partridge undoubtedly works better in small doses, and some of his reports are pure gold, particularly his coverage on the Tour De France ("they look like cattle, but in a mad way, cattle on bikes") and his World Cup '94 commentary ("Twat! That was liquid football!"). Gooooaaaal!

Not half as controversial or biting as its successor (there's no media-baiting here, just a light roasting) and some of the segments don't quite hit the spot (the puce-tinted US reports pail in comparison to those on BrassEye) but The Day Today remains a beacon of ludicrousness in an otherwise stagnant genre of satire. Just watch five minutes of the newly relaunched ITV News at Ten, with its 3D studio floating in cyberspace and utterly po-faced CG reconstructions, and you'll see that The Day Today really was the news. Now fact me 'til I fart.

Extras This 2-disc special edition contains all six episodes, plus the original pilot episode for BBC2 (featuring Chris Morris complete with a rather-disturbing looking pompadour). Some material is repeated here, but you're also given 6 mini TV spots, extended scenes of docu-soaps The Office and The Pool, plus a rather disappointingly straightforward documentary on the making of the programme and how successfully it parodies broadcast news - as usual, there's neither hide nor hair of Morris himself. However, for once, the promise of 'animated menus' as a DVD extra is actually one worth boasting about.

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