Dare To Believe (ITV1, 2002-2003)
When thinking about some more TV programmes from years ago that I wanted to review, Dare To Believe suddenly came back into my head recently so I wondered if there were any episodes on YouTube. A user called “samintothestorm” has uploaded three episodes so credit goes to them for letting me see them again, although in their description they think that the show is “by far the best programme on TV at that time”, although that isn’t really a statement that I could agree with myself.
When people talk about Dare To Believe words often turn up such as “cult” or “surreal”, but I feel that “nonsense” could be a better description. I thought that I would watch one to find out what it was all about. This was a very late-night comedy sketch show which was made on a budget of about 10p that had some odd ideas with some bizarre characters and subliminal messages urging us to “be the small bookcase”.
After finding some of the ideas rather strange such as “Recognising Things”, smoking cyclists and random references to sandwiches, I decided that I would watch again the following week, when I realised that the next episode was almost exactly the same, featuring the same characters and virtually the same dialogue. It really was a case of “you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all” and I was rather disappointed, and didn’t watch again.
One of the sketches that I did enjoy though featured the Department Of Environment Otter Survey, where we were told how many otters people had around the country. I did find it amusing being told that some people had ONE OTTERS before vanishing, but even that became rather dull when they did it for the 25th time. Another plus point was Patrick Allen and his lovely voice taking part.
When trying to find out more about Dare To Believe, I was surprised to discover that the show was written and directed by Tim De Jongh who had been a cast member of the Radio 4 comedy sketch show And Now In Colour which ran for two series in 1990 and 1991, which has been repeated frequently in more recent years on BBC7/Radio 4 Extra which was where I first heard it and really enjoyed it. It also transferred to TV in 1993 as It’s A Mad World World World World but it got no further than the pilot. De Jongh has also won a Bafta for his writing and directing work, but not for this show, obviously. His fellow ANIC cast members Tim Firth and Michael Marshall Smith also contributed.
I suppose that in a way ITV should be commended for trying something so different and surprisingly there were two series made. I’ve no idea how many people remember watching Dare To Believe and it hasn’t had a DVD release but I can cope with that. It was a show that seemingly wanted to come across more as “trippy” than “funny”. “Sweet as a moose” was the show’s catchphrase. It was still better than another no-budget late-night comedy around at the time Shoot The Writers! though. No wonder ITV just show roulette all night now.