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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 April, 2004, 11:48 GMT 12:48 UK
DVD review: The Day Today
By William Gallagher
BBC News Online

The Day Today
Chris Morris fronted The Day Today

Coincidentally, this week sees the DVD release of a TV show and a film that share some of the same goals yet could not be more different if they tried.

The film is Broadcast News but the TV series is the once incredibly good and still close to incredibly good The Day Today news spoof from Chris Morris.

It is based on Radio 4's On the Hour - which does not get a mention in this two-disc set - and is quite a nasty satire.

There have been any number of jokey news shows but this beats them all.

It is the degree of detail in The Day Today that makes it special: not a single frame goes by that is not biting at some aspect of television news.

In 1994, it made it hard to watch the real news: you kept looking for the News Dancer and you automatically read all the captions for jokes.

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In 2004, a lot of its gags have become real, disturbingly, and its Speak Your Brains vox pop segment is tiresome.

Extras include the unscreened pilot episode and bemused audio describers trying to explain episode three to us.

There is also a kind of Making Of feature. It is really an Open University-style documentary about TV news that over-uses Day Today examples but has good interviews with the makers.


Broadcast News

What The Day Today does to UK news, the movie Broadcast News does to America's version - just a lot more softly. But if its barbs are more asides, it's very good with them.

Broadcast News
Holly Hunter, William Hurt and Albert Brooks (right) play ambitious journalists

This is really about three troubled characters in a newsroom, which gives the film its strapline: "It's the story of their lives."

The excellent Holly Hunter stars as the apex of a romance with serious Albert Brooks and charming William Hurt.

It is very funny and has extraordinarily exciting sequences - but no extras.

Not one. At the price of 9.99 it is not too great a surprise but it is disappointing that the picture quality is sometimes weak, too.


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Has the cutting edge satire of The Day Today passed the test of time? And is Broadcast News a good buy despite the lack of extras?

Send us your views of this week's DVDs.

The superb accuracy of The Day Today's satire made it impossible to watch many shows it lampooned afterwards - particularly 999, which I could never watch again following the TTD item where a shepherd whistles over the radio to a sheepdog piloting a helicopter. The graphics were, I believe, done by the people responsible for ITN's graphics and as such were incredibly accurate while at the same time totally ludicrous: the currency cat, bomb dogs, etc.
Neil, UK

The Day Today undoubtedly stands the test of time. It was sharp, intelligent, fearless and brilliant. In a world of safe TV, this series was right at the cutting edge. There are too many highlights to recall, but the ones that stick in my mind most vividly are - Fur Q, The Bureau, "in 1977 nobody died", "is this cool?", Brian O'Hanrahanrahan and Alan Partridge's legendary Greg Luganis diving commentary - "he boings down, up, bangs his head and in - textbook!".
Stephen Ashmore, Leicester

The Day Today is pure class. From the mad opening graphics to the bizarre endings of each episode (eg. Chris Morris loading his jacket pocket with about 100 biros), it was and is total comedy. Bing, bang, stick in in...thank you and goodnight.
Ben Ruffels, London, UK

Ich nichten lichten!
Peter O'Hanrahanrahan, London

The Day Today, like its creator Chris Morris, was smug, hopelessly over-rated, and relied on mostly the same "biting satire" show after show. If you don't believe me, watch the episodes one after the other and see if you can distinguish them. Let's be honest, satirising TV news is about as challenging as "You've been framed" screening video clips of children falling over. A soft target.
Julian Planterose, Sussex

Today's news video editors must use The Day Today as inspiration. If The Day Today was a satire on the news style of the time then the style of today's news programmes are a satire on The Day Today. No news programme is complete without pointless flashy graphics, terrible puns and in-jokes between the presenters.
Colin, London, UK

I remember my mum walking into the lounge and sitting down to watch what she thought was the news. It was so close to the mark that she didn't realise it wasn't the news until they showed amateur footage of the Queen and John Major having a fist fight. Brilliant stuff.
John, Sussex, UK

The Day Today was a real class act. I loved the Alan Partridge descriptions of the football game and horse racing he was commenting on in one episode. Little wonder he got his own chat show. Alan Partridge was an amazing pundit.
Martyn, Manchester, UK

The Day Today has stood the test of time, with scarily some of its "stories" coming true today. It's still funny and relevant, even though many of the faces in it are not around today. It launched the "career" of Steve Coogan's Alan Partridge, and made Chris Morris a name to be feared amongst the C-List Celebs.
Tane Piper, Edinburgh, UK

I remember The Day Today being absolutely unmissable when originally broadcast, and it remains a firm favourite of mine, perhaps even better than the oft-discussed "follow-up" Brass Eye. I've always found it hilarious and yet deeply frustrating that TV news has actually gone even further down the tabloid route satirised by The Day Today since it was first shown. I find many aspects of both written and televised journalism deeply pretentious, and in its savage lampooning of the form The Day Today remains priceless.
Martin White, Cambridge

The Day Today has more than passed the test of time. In fact current news presentation featuring huge video-walls, OTT graphics and presenters' unexplained standing up and sitting down, has become more like The Day Today than when the series was made. You only had to watch some of the coverage of the Iraq War and the conflict in Afghanistan to realise that The Day Today has become reality, with over-dramatised footage and reporters who consider themselves more important than the news they're reporting.
Alex Brown, Harrogate, England

The Day Today is a must-buy. While it has its patchy moments (the Bureau De Change bits are repeated too often for this reviewer's liking), the overall picture is one of scary prophecy. Just check out the War episode. It's like a documentary.

A lot has been made of the fact that this is the first television appearance of Alan Partridge. While that may be true, he's a supporting player to Chris Morris' Paxman-on-acid anchorman.

Morris is famously reclusive and doesn't talk about his work very often so it's not a surprise that the extras here don't include any new interview material from him - but that might not be such a bad thing as he has been quite dismissive of the Day Today. He apparently sees it as too "reverential". It's hard to agree.

One prophetic sketch sees Steve Coogan doing a road safety ad - all the way through he's asking "Do I look good to you now? Do I? Do I?" as he hurls himself under a car. The ad with the guy in the car hitting the motorbike that's running right now is almost identical.

Brass Eye took the whole thing a stage further and widened the scope of Morris' biting satire, but this remains essential viewing.
Toby Townrow, Llanelli, UK

The Day Today was the de-facto comedy of its time. Chris Morris is constantly at the forefront of comedy (Brass Eye and Jam are disturbingly funny). It is a pity that even with the inordinate number of channels available he cannot find a home for his stunning talent. But then when the airwaves are crammed with cheap to make "reality tv" which are safe and don't make the public think or challenge their ideals I suppose it is not so surprising.
Neal Bamford, Tunbridge Wells England

The Day Today is mindblowing. Hilarious satire which becomes more prophetic with every year that passes. It's hard to believe news actually became this! Genius. "This is the neeeeews!!!!!"
Ben, UK

Day Today old? Past it? Never! I have the original two series on "old" video and watch them every so often and they are still hilarious!
Paul Bristow, Belvedere, Kent

The Day Today is a rampaging boombuster of televisual yo-yo. Chris Morris's convention shaming series should be viewed by all, enjoyed by most and given a proud place in the anals of DVD history. It's got more mass than a bowl of lead soup.
Jon, Camden, UK

To my mind, it goes to show how far ahead Chris Morris and the Day Today team were in their thinking. It was timed right - and really showed what would/has happened to modern broadcasting, their WAR!! episode in particular.... Day Today has more then passed the test of time, and actual broadcasting has really only just caught up.
Tim, Coventry, UK

The Day Today is still a fantastic piece of satirical comedy. I bought them on video years ago and will still buy the DVD. The extra bit on the video where Chris does a piece about a stricken sub-marine and speaks to the captain via a satellite link and it's actually some poor bloke in a McDonalds somewhere in America is genius. Still cracks me up. "This is the NEWS".
Stuart Doig, Dundee, Scotland

I still think The Day Today is one of the best comedy/satire shows to grace our television screens. Every little thing about it is pure genius. What more do I need to say other than my favourite headline from the show... "Boiled Dog Could Do Maths, Claims Experimenter."
Phil North, Southampton, England

The Day Today was so utterly brilliant and so perfectly captured the artificial (self) importance of TV news that I watched most of the first episode confused that the BBC had employed someone so bizarre as a caption-writer for a serious news programme. So many of Morris' pitch perfect Paxmanesque announcements stick with me that it's hard to choose the best, but it might be the startling conclusion to a story about herds of wild horses infesting the London Underground: "We've just been told that the Home Secretary has gone into the tunnels to kill the horses... WITH HAMMERS!". Genius.
Russell Jones, Manchester

The Day Today is still extremely funny, relevant, and invigorating. Things have changed but not enough to significantly reduce the enjoyment you have watching it. I'm very glad the BBC have finally released it on DVD, and have gone to the trouble of putting together some proper extras for it.
Duncan, Cambridge

Thanks to the BBC for celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Day Today. I first watched the show as a teenager and I'm now a video editor for TV news. I remember seeing the trailer in January 94 and thinking that I'd never seen anything like this on TV before. This is an amazing show, yes some of it does look a bit dated now, but the all out satirical assault on television news styles of the time is as shocking and hilarious as ever
Roryms, Derry, NI

The Day Today is still on-the-button - I recently saw the episode where Morris starts a war between the UK and China (or was it France?) and the news coverage - it was indistinguishable from Sky News, down to the little "WAR!" logo in the corner of the screen!
Rob Marris, Southampton

The Day Today was made almost 11 years ago, and a lot of the gags were based on ones from On The Hour a year or two earlier than that. Considering the ever-changing and transient nature of what it was aiming at, most of it still works now. Satirical and stupid at the same time, and that's why it's still great.
Gary, London, UK

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