Don’t Watch That, Watch This, BBC4

by | Jan 13, 2005 | All, Reviews

Don’t Watch That, Watch This, BBC4

What’s it all about

The speeches of world leaders are cut up and re-edited by the makers of Bremner, Bird & Firtune to make their banal platitudes look absurd and self-absorbed.

What to say if you liked it?

An acidic satire on world leaders, hanging them with their own mendacious petards.

What to say if you didn’t like it?

A complacent, anachronistic manipulated library of malapropisms by world leaders that offers little comical sustenance beyond the meagre nutrition of insipid satire.

What was good about it?

• Some of the music, such as Tricky, New Order and Talk Talk, was fantastic.

• David Blunkett “slagging off” his cabinet colleagues were funny. “Tony Blair, on the streets binge drinking.” “John Prescott is total evil.” “Gordon Brown – no chance of avoiding reoffending”.

• Some of the messages Cherie Blair was inserting into books during a signing session. “We hate Gordon.” “Gordon is a moron.”

• The running sketch on assisted suicide, in which subjective statistics supporting the practice were flashed on screen to a soundtrack of a couple taking her mother to Switzerland to be killed. After the mother decided she didn’t want to die after a sight seeing trip, the husband complained as they had only booked two tickets for the flight home.

• Bono on working with Busted; Chelsea’s José Mourinho on adding God to the squad

What was bad about it?

• It seemed very out of date, as though it was made six months ago and left on the shelf until now. Examples included too much David Blunkett; Osama Bin Laden in a cave; and Kilroy still involved with Ukip.

• Many of the targets – George Bush, Tony Blair and Donald Rumsfeld – have already been satirised to death by Dead Ringers, Rory Bremner and 2004: The Stupid Version, and often with far more wit and originality.

• The tiresome scornful narratives that lectured on the obvious division between the developed and undeveloped world, that BBC4 viewers would be already well aware


• The assisted suicide piece ended with a highly biased conclusion about the absurdity of denying the practice here in the UK, but considering the ambiguity of the ethical quandary such a conclusion was inappropriate without first presenting the converse argument.

• Some of the music was very bad eg Huey Lewis And The News played while Michael Portillo dressed in fishnet stockings.

• The contrived, gloomy finale where the narrator mused that “we’ll destroy ourselves in the next few years” was as bad as the Fox News propaganda that Arab terrorists all around the world are plotting nuclear Armageddon to scare voters into electing George W Bush.


1 – Doctored footage of yachting superstar Ellen McArthur getting very tearful during a storm as her drinks tray slid around, the chandelier swayed and the piano fell apart

2 – Bush and Rice accompanied, ironically, by REM’s Shiny Happy People

3 – Doctored footage of Dinner With Portillo, showing the highbrow guests discussing immigration while tucking into fry-ups, accompanied by bread and butter and Fanta.

4 – Gordon Brown making a dramatic speech while Tony Blair giggles along

5 – Tory Theresa May on sex with Tony Blair – “I was taken 66 times in many different ways.”

Don’t Watch That, Watch This, BBC4

1 – Footage of a lofty conversation about immigration on BBC4’s Dinner With Portillo doctored to include a clown among the guests. He made suitably intelligent expressions, but let himself down by beeping his hooter occasionally.

2 – Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley singing Suspicious Minds

3 – The serious bit highlighting the scandal of weapons sales to India and Pakistan so they can fight over Kashmir

4 – Buzzword-laden speeches by Blair, Howard and Letwin (“I will make this country a deeply unfair place to live in.”)

5 – John Prescott: “Old Labour. New Labour. Full fat Labour.” And “John Prescott” doing his own hair and make-up before appearing on Richard & Judy

6 – The Court Circular announcement: “This afternoon, Prince Harry annexes Sudetenland and marches on Poland.”

7 – Tim Henman exchanging balls with a ballboy and never getting round to serving

8 – Robert Robinson on Call My Bluff defining words which have become twisted by politicians

9 – Blair putting black lines through the 1945 Labour manifesto, accompanied by him singing Jerusalem

10 – New Order’s Blue Monday playing during footage of Tony Blair doing a lot of pointing

Don’t Watch That, Watch This, BBC4

1 – An eskimo fishing on BBC News’ big white round desk while the newsreaders deliver the latest

2 – Tony Blair and President Mitterand singing Wannabe.

3 – Alex Ferguson mocking Arsene Wenger: “Got your new goalie yet?”

4 – John Redwood’s speech accompanied by Duran Duran’s Wildboyz. “I’m an embarrassing, disgusting Conservative. I haven’t got a little cock.”

5 – Sven Goran Eriksson doing the long-term weather forecast

7 – Jack Straw banging on about security on Radio 4’s Today while the presenters make and drink cocktails

6 – Michael Howard grinning away as Margaret Thatcher shrills: “We need more materialism, class division, lies and mediocrity.”

8 – Prince Charles umming and erring

9 – Nelson Mandela singing Me So Horny

10 – Mrs Bush holding up an “I’m With Stupid” banner wherever she went with her husband

Don’t Watch That, Watch This, BBC4

1 – The serious bit on America’s hatred of Cuba and its attempts to find a pretext for an attack (including sabotage, funerals for mock victims, blowing up a US ship and blaming Cuba etc)

2 – Postman Pat guesting with the Righteous Brothers on You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ in 1968 before he left the music industry to become a postman

3 – Tony Blair having to endure a long railway journey accompanied by a boring old man who went on and on about Aberdeen and a drunk whose tower of cans toppled over

4 – Arsene Wenger at the Manchester United training ground, calling Ruud Van Nistelroy “a big girl cheat” and then bragging about it to a colleague.

5 – Ariel Sharon singing The Power Of Love (the Huey Lewis version)

6 – The Iraqi Election Special featuring Sunni & Shia singing I Got You Babe

7 – John Prescott marking out potential homes in Country Life magazine

8 – Jack Straw’s doctored speech – “I’m proud of this government’s record in fighting for injustice at home and injustice abroad.”

9 – Newsnight Review analysing the painting of Bill & Ben

10 – Saddam Hussein singing Somebody Help Me

Don’t Watch That, Watch This, BBC4

1 – The serious bit about how celebrities are ranked higher than people who do good: driving badly on television is more important than curing the sick, eating insects in a jungle is more important than feeding the poor.

2 – A glimpse inside the Queen’s carriage where there are crisps on the floor and muck on the upholstery

3 – A doctored version of Mastermind in which the contestant’s power of anticipation grows until he provides the correct answer before Magnus has even opened his mouth.

4 – Michael Portillo doing a runner after clocking up a huge taxi fare

5 – Blair and Howard making speeches while doing the naked balloon dance

6 – President Chirac putting on his iPod to drown out Tony Blair’s speech

7 – A doctored version of Blankety Blank in which all the celebs (Tony Blackburn, Ted Rogers etc) hold up answers referring to Terry Wogan’s wig.

8 – Osama Bin laden singing Mamma Mia

9 – BBC newsreaders preening themselves

10 – Politicians singing Perfect Day

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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