In the news: Chris Morris - Comedy danger man back on air
Friday 27 March 1998
Radio 1 starts a new series of his weird music and comedy show Blue Jam at 1am. Which proves that the station is yet to completely forgive Morris for using its airwaves in the past to get MPs to comment on the fictitious death of Michael Heseltine or to announce that Jimmy Savile was dead.
Blue Jam is a strange mixture of music, monologues and sketches - some of which are the funniest and most distasteful to be found on television or radio.
In one memorable sketch in the last series a gentle-voiced acupuncturist explained to her patient how "You may feel a little tingle when I put this one in." Which was then followed by the sound of noisy hammering and the acupuncturist saying: "The nails I use are between nine and 14 inches long and half an inch thick. They must go through the body part and at least two inches into the table, otherwise the patient will slide off ..."
Another sketch featured a doctor whose only therapeutic skill was to "kiss it better" who is visited by patients with increasingly lewdly positioned ailments.
It may be that the BBC sincerely believes that Morris's humour is only suitable for those whose mental state has been altered sufficiently by drink or drugs at 1am so that they get the joke - and the corporation has advertised the show widely - but it still seems a criminal waste of Britain's most cutting-edge comedy talent.
The BBC will only let him on air because the show is pre-recorded and edited.
Morris, 35, started in broadcasting on BBC local radio until he was sacked by BBC Bristol for eating an apple over a news broadcast. After a stint on GLR, which has hosted almost all the Nineties television comedy talent, he teamed up with writer Armando Iannuci, Steve Coogan and Patrick Marber to create the spoof Radio 4 news show On The Hour - the place where Alan Partridge was born and which transferred to TV as The Day Today.
He refuses to talk to journalists on the record, although is not adverse to leaking spoof stories about himself and lives a quiet life in Brixton with his actress partner Joanna Unwin and young son.
His last brush with authority was when he inserted a very rude subliminal message about former Channel 4 chief executive Michael Grade in his series Brass Eye. That cost him a sizeable chunk of the programme fee and may mean a long hiatus before he is back on Channel 4. It probably also explains the Radio 1 start time for Blue Jam.
The BBC, which turned down the chance to air Brass Eye, is probably also mindful of the time Morris fooled two MPs into condemning a fictitious drug called "cake". David Amess, Tory MP for Southend West was even induced to wear the T-shirt of a fictitious anti-drugs organisation known as F.U.K.D & B.O.M.B.D while holding a giant yellow pill that was purported to be "cake" while shouting to camera: "This is a made up drug."
Yet in upholding the MPs' complaints about the programme the television watchdog, the ITC, went out of its way to praise the show as "innovative and amusing". Despite such official sanction, for now Morris is mainly just hard to hear.
PAVING THE WAY
Chris Morris's first spoof sketch was for BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, a report entitled "Man steps off pavement" which was reported in great detail and involved reaction interviews with supposed members of the public.
TALKING THE MICKEY
He doesn't just do pranks for the audience. At BBC Cambridgeshire he filled a studio with helium just before a broadcast so that the news reader sounded like Mickey Mouse. His rude subliminal message about Michael Grade in the last episode of Brass Eye could only have been seen by someone with industry-standard editing equipment.
Celebrities taken in by Morris's phoney Brass Eye interviews were: Noel Edmonds, Claire Rayner, Bernard Manning, Carla Lane, Lynsey de Paul, David Amess, MP for Southend West, and Sir Graham Bright, MP for Luton South.
Celebrities falsely killed off by Chris Morris: Noel Edmonds (murdered by Clive Anderson), Jimmy Saville, Michael Heseltine.
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