Smack The Pony (Channel 4, 1999-2003)
Smack The Pony was a comedy sketch show with a female slant which starred a trio of great comic actresses, Doon Mackichan (who was also in the classic The Day Today), Fiona Allen (who was also in sketch show We Know Where You Live what I wrote about recently) and Sally Phillips. Also occasionally appearing was Sarah Alexander if there was a sketch which needed a fourth female member, and all them portrayed a wide variety of characters.
There were no recurring characters or catchphrases as such, but every edition did have a couple of regular features. There were the lonely hearts videos, where the trio played a wide variety of women who were looking for that someone special, and there were lots of other great sketches. The show also experimented with its look such as strange camera angles, and lots of sketches featured unusual tints which made them stand out too.
Every edition of Smack The Pony also ended with a musical number, usually a parody of a hit pop song that was around at the time. These never seemed to be as popular with viewers as the rest of the sketches but I did enjoy trying to determine what their song was a parody of, and I’m sure that bands who were around at the time must have been flattered that their style was parodied on the show.
Smack The Pony ran for three series, plus a couple of specials to finish things off, and the show seemed to be repeated frequently in the early days of E4 which is where I remember watching most editions for the first time, and in the last couple of years there has also been a repeat run on the London Live channel. The trio did reunite for one final project in 2004 when the comedy film Gladiatress was released, which was a parody of Gladiator, although it wasn’t a big success.
The DVD release of Smack The Pony is rather disappointing, it only contains sketches from the first and second series, it is only 80 minutes long, and it contains nothing from the third series, so it only comes to the equivalent of about three editions when 23 were made. I’ve never bought it myself, but I have managed to find a few bits online which I enjoyed watching again, and there ever was a full release of the show on DVD I would not hesitate in buying it.