It’s A Mad World World World World (BBC2, 1993)
When the digital radio station BBC7 (now BBC Radio 4 Extra) launched in 2002, it was an opportunity for me to hear some programmes from throughout the years that I didn’t remember from first time round. One that I rather enjoyed was the comedy sketch show And Now In Colour (that originally ran on BBC Radio 4 for two series from 1990-1991) which was often compared to BBC Radio 1’s The Mary Whitehouse Experience that ran around the same time.
And Now In Colour was written by and starred a comedy quartet known as The Throbbs (Tim Firth, Tim de Jongh, Michael Rutger and William Vandyck), and the show had a regular feature where the cast would take the studio audience on an adventure with them. In 1993 there was an attempt to transfer the show to TV as It’s A Mad World World World World which was shown as part of BBC2’s Comic Asides series of comedy pilots. I have wanted to see this for a while so I was very pleased when it recently turned up on YouTube, and credit goes to the uploader “VHS Video Vault”.
Although all four members of the And Now In Colour cast wrote the show, only de Jongh and Vandyck appeared in the sketches (and it was a great experience to finally put some faces to the familiar voices). Also in the cast was Flip Webster, and there were some early TV appearances for the soon to be big names in comedy Alistair McGowan and Caroline Aherne.
Among the various sketches in the show were the strangest snooker match ever played, the invention of earthquakes, the reveal of the new James Bond theme, and a parody of The Open University. Another thing that I noticed was that most of the sketches were recycled from the radio version. Also, the way that some of the sketches played out made me think that one influence could’ve been Channel 4’s great comedy show Absolutely.
It’s A Mad World World World World did not return for a full series, so we won’t ever know how many characters or catchphrases could’ve developed (BBC2 did finally find a successful sketch show format about a year later with the launch of The Fast Show). However, the cast did go on to have further success in more recent years, having written various award-winning plays and novels, and some of them also contributed to ITV1’s surreal comedy show Dare To Believe (although the less said about that the better really).