Pushing Up Daisies (Channel 4, 1984)/Coming Next (Channel 4, 1985)
This is a sketch show that could be classed as part of the “alternative comedy” genre that I don’t remember watching at the time (but my excuse is that I was a year old when it launched), but it’s yet another one that I have been interested in seeing for a while. This is because it featured some of the earliest TV appearances of a group of comedy talents who by the end of the 80s decade would be rather successful names.
I wondered if there were any editions on YouTube, and only the second series is on there in full, but it’ll have to do for now. Pushing Up Daisies and Coming Next were essentially the same show with a different title. I’m not sure why it was changed, one idea is that it was seemingly to try and confuse continuity announcers which was rather naughty, but I bet they didn’t fall for it.
The cast was impressive. It consisted of Chris Barrie, who was making a name for himself at the time as an impressionist, and was among the voices of Spitting Image, before going on to further success in Red Dwarf and The Brittas Empire, Gareth Hale and Norman Pace, the double-act who would contribute to a few other comedy shows before they got one of their own on ITV in 1988, and Carla Mendonça, who went on to star in CITV’s My Parents Are Aliens.
I was rather surprised to discover that even at this point Hale and Pace had already established the likes of Billy and Johnny the rude children’s TV presenters, and Ron and Ron (better known as “The Management”), who would go on to become some of their most popular characters on their own show. They were also among the many writers of the sketches.
The show was also something of a showcase for Chris to show off some of his most famous impressions, including Barry Norman, President Reagan, and David Coleman, that got plenty of the studio audience squealing with laughter. One regular sketch was WestEnders, a variation on the newly-launched soap EastEnders that featured a rather posh cocktail bar, and another highlight was an amusing parody of epilogue-type shows called Nice Thoughts. Most editions ended with a song.
The final edition of the second series was a real departure as it was made in black-and-white and featured a parody of pop music shows from the 60s. It was a rather bizarre but enjoyable variation. There were 13 editions of Pushing Up Daisies/Coming Next which seemed to come and go without too much attention at the time, this was partly because it was shown rather late in a Saturday night slot, but some of them were later repeated on Granada Plus. There has been no DVD release though.