TV Offal (Channel 4, 1997-1998)
For many years, Victor Lewis-Smith was the TV critic for the Evening Standard. He became somewhat known for often making rather bizarre and bad taste jokes, and for reviewing various soaps, dramas, and game shows, and not particularly being fond of any of them. He wouldn’t be afraid to criticise the production team as much as who he thought were the inept hosts in front of the camera. What a strange chap.
He also had a go at making a few TV and radio comedy shows himself in the 90s. These included BBC2’s Inside Victor Lewis-Smith, although I haven’t seen much of that one, so I’ll look back at this one instead for now. TV Offal was shown rather late at night on Channel 4, and was a typically outrageous look at some of the dodgier moments in British TV history. Would viewers be prepared for all of this?
Victor wasn’t seen in-vision, but he co-wrote the show and also voiced his views. There were some regular features. These included Honest Obituary, where Victor looked back at the career of a TV personality that he wasn’t particularly fond of. I remember that the one for Noel Edmonds just seemed to consist of the same clip of Noel running around on Noel’s House Party played over and over again.
There was also Kamikaze Karaoke, featuring a rather bad version of a pop song, Fantasy Programme Of The Week, imagining a weird variation on an existing show, The Pilots That Crashed, terrible one-off shows that didn’t even make it to the screen, Weirdo Bags, taking a look at the luggage of the famous, and The Gay Daleks, featuring the further adventures of the Doctor Who villains.
There was also a look at bad TV adverts (this was expanded on in the BBC2 series Ads Infinitum, and I’ll review that one soon too), and idents (I’m fairly sure this was the first time that I saw the original black-and-white Harlech ident from the 60s and I couldn’t believe my rather sore eyes, I honestly didn’t believe that it was real). Most of the clips seemed to be sourced from Christmas tapes, containing rather rude episodes of TV shows made especially to amuse the production team at their end-of-year party.
These included the “twangers” episode of Rainbow, falsely claiming that it was the unaired pilot, and a chaotic edition of Bullseye. Most editions also ended with a rather cruel prank phone call. There was only one series of TV Offal, and some of the highlights were later shown as a special called TV Offal: Prime Cuts. And well, needless to say I’ve barely seen anything like it on TV before or since.