And Now In Colour (BBC Radio 4, 1990-1991)
This is a show that was briefly rather popular in the early-90s. And Now In Colour featured sketch comedy that was written and performed by the quartet of Tim “Firthy” Firth, Tim De Jongh, Michael Rutger, and William Vandyck. One thing that attracted me to this one was that the opening theme concluded with just about the most enthusiastic and over-excited studio audience response that I’ve heard for any of these type of shows.
And it’s probably no surprise really, as every edition was going to be rather special, because all of the studio audience joined the cast at a location, such as going to a fairground, or round one of the cast’s house, where plenty of unusual things would happen. The studio audience would also take part in a sketch (how great to have some audience participation). Most of the sketches began with the announcement “and now in colour…” (I don’t know if announcers really did say this to introduce shows in the early days of colour TV, but it would be great if they did).
There were no regular characters in the sketches, but various things were featured. Highlights included sketches based around sport (especially football which was coming back into fashion at the time), news reports, performances of poetry and novels, and there were also plenty of songs featuring a piano, usually reminiscing about things. The cast also assumed the personalities of various animals and inanimate objects, with suitable high-pitched or low-pitched voices.
There were also lots of advert parodies, one of which about fare-dodging seemed to get the biggest laugh in the whole series, when the studio audience realised what it was. Well I suppose it made sense at the time. There was an added layer to the show with Firthy and Michael’s constant bickering in a “north v south” debate, and their remarks about how easy or hard they supposedly had it often left each another rather flustered.
And Now In Colour was popular, and as it featured a comedy quartet performing contemporary and edgy sketches, it was often said to be the Radio 4 equivalent of The Mary Whitehouse Experience that was successful on Radio 1 around the same time (although I haven’t listened to that one as much by comparison). That did make a successful transfer to TV, but And Now In Colour‘s attempt didn’t do as well, only getting as a far as a pilot renamed It’s A Mad World World World World in 1993 (that I reviewed a while ago).
There were 14 episodes of And Now In Colour in two series (including two Christmas specials), which have also been repeated frequently on BBC Radio 4 Extra. After this, the cast went on to much further success, writing various plays, novels, and so on, including Kinky Boots. Other comedy shows that the cast have been involved in include the radio sketch series The Skivers, comedy panel game King Stupid, and the late-night rather bizarre TV sketch show Dare To Believe.