Drop The Dead Donkey, 1990
Perhaps not so well remembered these days, but this Channel 4 satirical sitcom was huge in it’s day. After an un-broadcast pilot episode the show ran for sixty five episodes over six series between 1990 and 1998.
The show was broadcast in blocks: series one and two ran in 1990 and 1991, two years later in 1993 and 1994 series three and four were broadcast. The last two series (five and six) were broadcast in 1996 and 1998.
In order to give the show a greater sense of realism, it would make use of contemporary news events. Therefore character plots for each episode were written in advance and delivered to the cast on the Monday before recording. The scripts were then re-written to add topical references over the next few days. The ‘completed’ episode would then be recorded on the night before transmission, with some of the cast recording voice-over additions the next day, a few hours before transmission.
The show became a huge success winning the Best Comedy (Programme or Series) Award at the 1994 BAFTA Awards. At the British Comedy Awards the show won Best New TV Comedy in 1990, Best Channel 4 Comedy in 1991, and Best Channel 4 Sitcom in 1994.
Set in the offices of “GlobeLink News”, a fictional TV news company, The series begins with the acquisition of said “GlobeLink News” by media mogul Sir Roysten Merchant (a subtle nod to either Robert Maxwell or Rupert Murdoch. It’s noted by Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin on the DVDs that it was fortunate for their libel lawyers that the two men shared the same initials).
Most of the series revolves around the on-going battle between the staff of GlobeLink, led by editor George Dent, as they try to maintain the company as a serious news organisation, and Sir Roysten’s right-hand man Gus Hedges, trying to make the show more sensationalist and suppress stories that might harm Sir Roysten’s business empire.
Haydn Gwynne (Series 1–2)
Ingrid Lacey (Series 3–6)
Susannah Doyle (Series 2–6)
Channel: Channel 4
Created By: Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin
Produced By: Hat Trick Productions for Channel 4
Original transmission Dates: 9th August 1990 – 9th December 1998