Whoops Apocalypse (ITV, 1982)
This is a sitcom that was shown on TV before my time, but when I found out about it I thought that it sounded rather interesting, and I wanted to watch it for a few reasons. Firstly, the show was created and written by Andrew Marshall and David Renwick, who were behind a few other unusual comedy shows around this time, including End Of Part One of course.
Some people consider Whoops Apocalypse to have been the most anarchic sitcom that has ever been shown on ITV, and although there were only six episodes, it definitely contained lots of moments that viewers remembered. This was a sitcom that was all about world politics, and contained lots of satirical comments. It’s not usually the kind of thing that I go for, but I just had to see this one for myself.
The first thing that stood out for me was that the American President Johnny Cyclops (who was a former actor and seemed to have little knowledge of the situation he was in) was played by Barry Morse, who was from Bethnal Green. Now as I have said before, this is where I live in London. An American President who was from Bethnal Green? Well he’s done well for himself hasn’t he, as if the show wasn’t far-fetched enough already.
Also appearing are other world leaders including the British Prime Minister Kevin Pork, along with many other politicians, and whether by accident or design, together they all seem to be pushing the world closer to the brink of disaster with their decisions that they haven’t thought through properly. Causing the apocalypse probably won’t help Cyclops’s chances at the next election. What did ITV viewers make of it all at the time.
Another thing that was very impressive was the cast, packed so full of high-class names that some only appeared in one or two episodes including Geoffrey Palmer, John Cleese, Alexei Sayle, and Rik Mayall (proof of the up-and-coming Alternative scene making an early TV impact). Some of them probably didn’t know what was going on half the time (the actors that is, not the viewers), but it all amounted to something rather memorable.
Following on from the only series, about five years later, the idea was expanded on in a film version of Whoops Apocalypse, which although they played different characters also contained a great cast, but this seemed to be less well received. The show has been served rather well by its DVD release on Network. As well as the series and the film, there are also some interesting extras.
When I buy comedy shows on DVD sometimes, I think wouldn’t it be good if it featured, whether the show was famous or forgotten, a 150-page article analysing the show from its creation to its characters and everything else. Well this one actually does contain a 150-page article (in PDF form) that takes an in-depth look at what made the show stand out. Also featuring are some scripts and press releases that are an interesting read too.