Making it’s debut in November 1982 on Channel 4, The Comic Strip Presents is an ongoing project by a group of prominent comedians, although at the time many of them were just starting out on their careers. It is a series of some forty short films, some as part of five televised series and some one offs.
The series started out when two double acts, Adrian Edmondson and Rik Mayall under the name “20th Century Coyote” and Nigel Planer and Peter Richardson (“The Outer Limits”), started performing at the newly opened Comedy Store in London in mid 1980, alongside compere Alexei Sayle who had been resident there since the Comedy Store opened in 1979.
It had originally been an idea of an alternative cabaret act to follow a play Peter Richardson had produced with Michael White. He quickly ran out of enthusiasm for his play but liked the cabaret idea.
The comic strip presents arrived on TV as a result of a meeting between Peter Richardson and a producer from a newly created Channel 4. Richardson approached producer Mike Bolland, the newly appointed Channel Four youth and entertainment commissioning editor to propose a series of Comic Strip films for the channel. Bolland agreed to his proposal, his first commission for the station and Jeremy Isaacs quickly approved the budget.
Richardson negotiated a deal with the channel for six self-contained half-hour films, using the group as actors rather than standup performers. Almost simultaneously, the BBC signed Edmondson, Mayall, Planer and Sayle to star in The Young Ones, a sitcom in the same anarchic style as the Comic Strip. Richardson was initially to have been involved (in the role of Mike, ultimately played by Christopher Ryan), but was not due to differences between him and the show’s producer, Paul Jackson.
The first Comic Strip presents debuted on Channel 4’s launch night 2nd November 1982, titled Five Go Mad In Dorset.
The Comic Strip Presents has clocked up forty episodes including specials so here we go. Each episode/special was a stand alone production.
Series One, 2nd November 1982 – 31 January 1983
Five Go Mad In Dorset
The Beat Generation
Bad News Tour
Series Two, 2nd November 1983 – 11th February 1984
Five Go Mad on Mescalin
A Fistful of Travellers’ Cheques
Gino: Full Story and Pics
Eddie Monsoon – A Life?
Special, 3rd November 1984
The Bullshitters: Roll Out The Gunbarrel
Feature Film, 3rd November 1984
Consuela, or The New Mrs Saunders – 1st January 1986
Private Enterprise – 2nd January 1986
Feature Film, 1987
Eat the Rich
Series Three, 20th February 1988 – 26th March 1988
More Bad News
Mr Jolly Lives Next Door
Didn’t You Kill My Brother?
Series Four, 1st February 1990 – 8th March 1990
South Atlantic Raiders
South Atlantic Raiders: Argie Bargie!
GLC: The Carnage Continues… 1
Red Nose of Courage
The Crying Game
Series Five, 1993
This was the last full series to date, although the team would re-unite for one off specials on an ad-hoc basis.
Detectives on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown
Space Virgins from Planet Sex
Queen of the Wild Frontier
Gregory: Diary of a Nutcase
Specials 1998 – Present
Four Men in a Car – 12th April 1998
Four Men in a Plane – 4th January 2000
Sex Actually – 28th December 2005
The Hunt for Tony Blair 14 October 2011
Channel 4 (1982 – 1990 and 1998 – 2009)
BBC2 (1990 – 1998)
UK TV GOLD (2010 – present)