2004 The Stupid Version (BBC3, 2004)
For a short while, there was a big wave of nostalgic documentaries on TV where people looked back at various things including particular years or genres of music and so on. Unsurprisingly, these shows began to be parodied. Recently I reviewed another show featuring Alan Partridge. One of the people who contributed to writing his shows and went on to create this one was Armando Iannucci, who has worked on a lot of satirical comedy. Indeed, the ideas and turns of phrase in this show can be described as “Iannuccian” (is that a word? I think so).
2004 The Stupid Version was shown on New Year’s Eve and was a cleverly edited-together look back at all the big news events that didn’t happen throughout the year (over 15 years ago now). Several important cultural commentators (or publicity-seeking comedians if you prefer) gave their views, including half the cast of Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace (the comedy hit of the year), Richard Ayoade and Matthew Holness (“stop moving me”).
As the show was an hour long, a lot had to be packed in, and as ever, there were probably some viewers who presumed it wasn’t a satire and everyone was being totally serious. There was look a back at the contestant on Mastermind whose specialist subject was “Lady Penelope’s Cockney Chauffeur”, while contestants revealed behind-the-scenes secrets of In It To Win It, Passport To Paradise, and The Weakest Link.
Also featuring were some B-list celebrities being locked in a box for ten hours, but none of them thought to ask why, a reflection on another England football failure, the Olympics in Athens, an exciting episode of EastEnders, coverage of 24 hour news channels, The Chip Pan Fire Awards, and there was even a spoof BBC1 ident! One of the highlights though was a parody of a home makeover show hosted by Andy Hodgson from the award-winning Bid TV, where he ended up being shot. Blimey Charlie.
The show ended with Adam Buxton’s take on “Dry Your Eyes” by The Streets, the chart-topping banger that soundtracked the summer. 2004 The Stupid Version was repeated about a month later on BBC2. Some thought it was good enough to feature at the end of every year, and although it didn’t, in 2006 there was a variation on the idea renamed Time Trumpet, but the twist this time was that people looked back at years that actually hadn’t happened yet.
So we discovered the fate of various politicians and celebrities, along with many other bizarre ideas. This seemed to get a less positive response from critics and viewers though, and there was only one series, but it has been released on DVD, and Iannucci has gone on to be behind further successful satirical shows. Thank you for reading, if indeed you still are.