The Day Today (BBC2, 1994)
This is a 90s comedy show that needs no introduction really. When I started my blog I planned to write about this show, but I left it because I felt that there really wasn’t anything more that I could add, so many people think that The Day Today is a classic and are familiar with the highlights, with every element of TV from travel reporters to music channel presenters expertly parodied, so I decided instead that rather than focusing on the six main editions, I’ll look at what the DVD extras contain and explain a little about what the show means to me.
The Day Today launched on the radio in 1991 as On The Hour, I didn’t hear it first time round, but I have enjoyed the repeat runs in more recent years on BBC7/BBC Radio 4 Extra. I’m not sure when I first saw The Day Today, probably in the mid-90s, but I remember seeing a trail when the show launched in 1994 which featured the opening sequence with the spinning worlds graphics which change again and again and the pompous music that goes on too long which I did find rather odd and definitely caught my attention. I also think that the show was repeated a few times on BBC2, and it also turned up on the great digital channel UK Play.
So when a two-disc DVD set was released for the 10th anniversary of The Day Today I had no hesitation in buying it. As well as containing all six editions, the second disc featured lots of extras, including about 40 minutes worth of an unaired TV pilot from 1993. I really looked forward to this, just when I thought that I had seen everything, it was great to discover something new. One of my favourite moments has to be “Debate 2000”, where five people are in a room discussing every cultural event of the past millennium and its significance.
I also enjoyed the Mini News, six segments about three minutes long that were shown as extended trails on BBC2 and are definitely up to standard. There are also extended versions of the documentaries The Pool and The Office. What’s good about these is that they sent up “docusoaps” where a camera was simply pointed at a group of people and they would all go on to be big stars and achieve huge ratings, about three years before the genre actually existed and dominated TV schedules.
Although it is described on the menu as “Po-Faced Analysis”, one of the most interesting features is an Open University documentary from 1995 about “the language of news”, contained on the disc because it includes a behind the scenes look at The Day Today, including an interview with cast member Rebecca Front talking about how various accents and looks were chosen for the characters, such as her American reporter Barbara Wintergreen, and look at how some of the graphics were made for the show. What’s also interesting is a look at BBC News, this is good partly because at one point you can see Going For Gold on the TV behind them, and also because it gives an explanation of how words are used in news to communicate information with people (which The Day Today took to the extreme), and how the initial newsgathering process works.
There are also some bonus features on the DVD, such as a newly-recorded interview with Chris Morris and Alan Partridge, which you have to press lots of various buttons to be able to access, and I also noticed on one edition that if you press a button there is some in-vision audio description which is provided by Andy Hodgson. Now he was a presenter on Bid-Up, a channel which I watched very regularly at the time as I thought he was a great presenter, and seeing him suddenly appear on the disc unexpectedly made me think that he was vaguely beginning to haunt me and gave me a huge fright (in a good way). And don’t forget the most important thing that we all learned from watching The Day Today: “Buttress is a significant word”.