Chris Morris courts controversy again as 'Brass Eye' dropped

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Channel 4 has postponed a one-off edition of its comedy series Brass Eye amid fears that it was to focus on the media's treatment of paedophiles.

The programme, fronted by the maverick satirist Chris Morris, was due to be broadcast last night. But its timing was likely to provoke complaints in the light of the case of Danielle Jones, the schoolgirl who has been missing for 15 days.

Morris, the writer and star, has continually courted controversy. A previous sketch was dropped for suggesting that a musical had been made about the Yorkshire Ripper.Sutcliffe – The Musical was seen lit up on billboards in Piccadilly Circus and a man dressed as Peter Sutcliffe was seen rehearsing on stage while another comments on the show.

The show was pulled by Michael Grade, C4's chief executive at the time, over concerns that television guidelines might be broken. It was eventually screened three months later, without the Ripper sketch. Morris sought revenge by including an obscene subliminal message during the show. "Michael Grade is a c***" flashed on screens but was virtually undetectable.

As an exponent of the on-air prank, Morris is seen as second to none, having had a series of encounters with broadcasting watchdogs. He was first taken off air in 1994 when he told Radio 1 listeners that Michael Heseltine had died. The singer Petula Clark and the presenter Jimmy Savile threatened to sue when they were later targeted. The first series of Brass Eye was due to be screened in 1996 but was also delayed because of C4's concern about the humiliation likely to be heaped upon several household names. It eventually aired in 1997.

Channel 4 had givenBrass Eye advance billing, promising that it would "take media terrorism to a level never seen on British TV before" and "smack the issues till they bleed". A preview tape revealed Morris approaching drug-dealers on the street wearing a nappy and a big orange ball on his head. He then confused the increasingly hostile dealers by barking at them. Other snippets included a love song to Myra Hindley and a Kilroy-spoof debate about "good Aids and bad Aids".

Last night's episode was due to be replaced with a repeat of a famous episode in which pundits were tricked into condemning a fictitious new drug called "cake". David Amess, then a Tory MP, was one victim.

A Channel 4 spokeswoman denied that the programme's content had delayed broadcast. "The programme isn't finished and will be broadcast this month some time," she said.