Greenwich Satire Week Celebrates SubversivenessDate: 21 January 2002
South London's Greenwich Theatre today kicks off a week of live events celebrating the world of contemporary satire. Satire Week continues until Saturday 26 January 2002.
The week features evenings with impressionist and spoof documentary-maker Rory Bremner, stand-up comedian Jeremy Hardy (a regular participant on BBC Radio 4's Just a Minute, I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue and The News Quiz), and Private Eye editor Ian Hislop (also familiar to TV audiences as team leader on the long-running Have I Got News for You). Private Eye, the pinnacle of satirical publications, will also be exhibiting an exclusive collection of front covers around the theatre.
Satire in television broadcasting will be represented with a double bill of two of the most influential satirical programmes in recent times - Spitting Image and The Brass Eye Special.
The puppets from Spitting Image (pictured) reigned supreme in the 1980s and early 1990s, with a cast of caricatures from politics and popular culture. The puppets - including the grey John Major, demonic Margaret Thatcher and buffoonish Royal Family - are still recognisable and were recently auctioned at Sotheby's. The programme launched the careers of numerous unseen contributors such as comedians Harry Enfield, Steve Coogan and Chris Barrie.
Brass Eye is a pastiche of Panorama-style news programmes. A recent episode, which dealt with the tricky area of paedophilia, caused a public furore with a flurry of complaints in letters columns, arts sections and news pages, provoking the intervention of the broadcasting standards authority.
Greenwich's promotional material for Satire Week declares that the timing could not be better for an exploration of this distinctly British form of subversive entertainment and irreverent reportage. "Recent world events have challenged the ability of satire to find humour in serious news, even leading the government to draw up a bill criminalizing attacks on religion", says the press release - and a dangerous situation as far as satirists are concerned.
Satire Week at Greenwich Theatre is followed, from 29 January to 2 February 2002, by Westenders, an evening of musical hits presented by a cast of West End regulars, with special guest appearances by Nichola McAuliffe and Mark Rattray.
- by Terri Paddock