WYSIWYG (CITV, 1992)
This is a CITV comedy show from the early-90s with something of a science-fiction twist. WYSIWYG (which stands for “What You See Is What You Get”) starred Nick Wilton and Clive Mantle, who had previously worked together on the comedy sketch shows In One Ear on BBC Radio 4, and the TV spin-off Hello Mum on BBC2. Wilton also appeared in the ill-fated ITV sitcom Hardwicke House, while Mantle is best known for his roles in BBC1 drama series Casualty and Holby City.
The idea of the show is Wysiwyg the alien (who is a reporter for InterGalactic Television) has beamed down to Earth (or “Flurts Globe” as he calls it) to learn more about the way that things work and explain it to viewers across the universe. He is accompanied by the useless technician Globyool, who has to look after the Rovercam (Wysiwyg also had a camera in his helmet). IGTV was hosted by a scary-looking computer-generated female head thing who always called Wysiwyg “Dave”.
You can always tell a broadcast is incoming when the aliens interrupt the show that is currently on the TV. But these shows are usually parodies that are performed by the main cast. And any show that begins its first episode with a parody of Blockbusters with the man himself Bob Holness sending himself up is fine by me. Other shows interrupted included the Australian soap Around These Parts, and the incredible tension of the World Ludo Championships in Barcelona.
As the weeks went by, Wysiwyg and Globyool visited various places, such as supermarkets, schools, and libraries, but they usually ended up causing chaos wherever they went. They also began every broadcast by making a bizarre hand gesture. Other features included the look back in time How They Are Then, advert parodies, and a talking cushion. You can’t go wrong if you’ve got a talking cushion on your show.
Wilton was the main writer on the show, and I spotted a few other writers in the credits who would go on to bigger things, including Peter Baynham and Ben Miller. One edition featured the memorable credit “Mr Holness’s Toilet Performed By Carol Churchill”. You don’t get funny credits like that on TV nowadays. Also taking part in the sketches were Julia Dawn Cole (who was in flop 90s ITV sitcom Married For Life) and Linda Hartley.
There were plenty of enjoyably bizarre moments in WYSIWYG, which surprisingly run for just five editions. I don’t think that it’s been shown on CITV since, and I am certainly not aware of any DVD release. Tommy Boyd who was in the CITV chair at the time was entertained by all of it and thought that it was very funny, and you can’t get much more of an endorsement than that really. Put that in your fridge!
Update… It’s not often that I get any comments from people who were directly involved in the shows that I review on here, so I was very pleased when recently the man himself Nick Wilton replied to this piece on Twitter. He said “Some kind words on WYSIWYG. Still really proud of what we did”, and also linked to the piece. It was great for him to do that, I never would have thought such a thing would be possible when I originally watched the show back in 1992!