'Brass Eye' satirist returns to the spotlight on Channel 4

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The Independent Online

The Daily Mail will not be happy. Chris Morris, after pushing television regulations to their limits and racking up record numbers of complaints from broadcasting watchdogs, is set to return to the screens.

Channel 4 confirmed yesterday that it was in talks with the satirist for a new comedy project likely to be shown next year. It is almost three years since a spoof documentary on paedophilia for a special edition of Brass Eye, his Channel 4 show, provoked 992 viewer complaints, the highest number received for a non-religious programme in the history of the Independent Television Commission (ITC).

The programme provoked the Daily Mail to attack the "brass neck of Brass Eye" and condemned the programme as "sickening" and "sordid".

A spokesman for Channel 4 said yesterday: "We are working closely with Chris on a long-term project but do not want to comment further at this stage."

Sources close to the project suggested that the satirist was planning to produce something more conventional than Brass Eye, which became known for its ability to dupe politicians and celebrities into supporting fictitious campaigns.

The paedophilia special featured Phil Collins talking "Nonce Sense" (he later threatened to sue), while Richard Blackwood, the comedian, claimed that you could tell if your children had been abused because they "smelt like hammers". Most memorable of all was the spectacle of Neil Fox, the DJ, insisting that "paedophiles have more genes in common with crabs than they do with you or me. Now that is scientific fact. There's no actual evidence for it but it is a fact".

Morris later said that he was "staggered at how gullible they were". He said: "It's simply a case of identifying the right blind spot and exploiting it."

Another edition of Brass Eye launched a crusade against a dangerous new drug called "cake". When it emerged that the narcotic in question was a figment of Morris's imagination, Noel Edmonds, the arch practical joker, said that there were some things you should never joke about and drugs was one of them.

After the broadcast of the paedophilia special (over which the ITC received as many supportive letters as it did complaints), Beverley Hughes, the former Home Office minister, agreed to go on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme to condemn Brass Eye. Ms Hughes then found herself floundering as she was forced to admit she had not seen the show.

Morris is understood to be working with Charlie Brooker, the co-creator of the satirical website TVGoHome, for his latest project, which is thought to be a sitcom.