There is no doubt that Jane Bussmann has been around the block when it comes to writing comedy, with credits including Smack the Pony, The Fast Show, Brass Eye and South Park. In this rare performance outing, Bussmann recounts a whole other comedic journey - to a Uganda torn apart by the conflict between President Museveni and Lord's Resistance Army rebel Joseph Kony. The starting point for Bussmann's one-time re-invention as a "foreign correspondent" is a malaise with her then career as a celebrity journalist, puff pieces on Nicole Richie not proving entirely satisfying.
However, Bussmann's reasons aren't completely altruistic; she fancies an American expert on African affairs, John Prendergast. "He's very hot," she exclaims, showing us his photo in Vanity Fair. So unravels a tale of Bussmann following Prendergast, and along the way uncovering an exclusive story about the suffering of ordinary Ugandans. But in the mix are frivolities such as how she kept her computer files safe by "backing it up on a CD and labelling it 'Coldplay' so no one would want it".
What drives the show on is the desire to know more about Uganda rather than Bussmann's slightly flat delivery and her (mostly solid) gags, some of which would be better off in the hands of the comedians she has previously written for. The journalist and writer has apparently embarked on this journey to leave behind puff and fluff, but the recurrence of the crush on Prendergast gives the proceedings a slightly Bridget Jones undertone, and perhaps it is more than coincidental that Smack the Pony and Bridget Jones star Sally Phillips is the director of the show.
It's one thing to have a sense of humour about worthy endeavours (a good example is where she says she intentionally asks a Ugandan military supremo the same inane questions she once asked film stars), but it's another to undermine your own premise and credibility. Ultimately this show is born out of failure: the failure of Bussmann to get her exclusive aired in the British media and the failure of the media to act upon it.
The end result is unsatisfying, in that it can't fully entertain or educate. In an ideal world, Bussmann's story would have appeared as a documentary. Had such a documentary been made and then watched back to back with an episode of Brass Eye, that would have been a better context within which to see the range of her talents.
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