Continuing the Carrott Confidential TV Centre hi-jinks with series 2 (as I sadly don't have access to June 1987's "Election Confidential" one off special) from January 1988 which moved back by about an hour in the schedules, just after Cagney and Lacey. But first a word from erm...
Ah proper new-material trailers for comedy programmes, you really don't see those anymore. Nor to mention it, many comedy programmes...anyway, its Saturday night, its 10:10 and its time for..oh, whatsisname...?
Episode 1 - January 16th 1988
Radio Times Synopsis: "Jasper's back with his live show, taking his usual quirky look at news of the week, with social comment and political satire - even."
A swankier door sign in Jasper's own hand greets us to series 2 but is it Quo or ELO on the soundtrack? Well done if you said the latter whose "Do Ya" plays behind a series of rapid jokes including a Mike Gatting lookalike having an argument with an umpire, some BP workers having hung themselves,some men in classic BBC brown coats removing a painting of Michael Grade (who had just left the BBC in order to become chief executive at Channel 4) and a chap in an Australian hat selling copies of the controversial Spycatcher in front of a disgusted Thatcher impersonator. And that's all before a Reagan and Gorbachev lookalike get to stab each other (literally) in the back and 'a jockey' in comedy prisoner clothes on a horse is lead away. It could be anyone! Phew!
Here's Mike Gatting behaving appallingly to umpire Shakoor Rana in a move that stopped England facing Pakistan for over a decade...
And here's the rather awful new set...
Episode 2 - January 23rd 1988
RT: "'Confidential' - Webster's Dictionary definition: 'containing information whose unauthorised disclosure could be prejudicial to the national interest'. Carrott's Dictionary definition: 'sneaky, irritating muck-blending'."
Show 2 and blimey the door sign's changed again! Made of money these BBC lot! This one actually stays for the rest of the series so god knows why last week's was different, perhaps the starry hand-signed nature belied the "man of the people" stance Carrott took in this shows in order to remain an outsider. On today's show, Jasper is greeted by a "royal highness" who gets his sandwiches brought by a woman in a green wax jacket towing a corgi, presumably referencing Prince Edward's desire to work in the media. Elsewhere in the corridors of the Beeb, a Ronnie Barker (who had just announced his retirement on "Wogan") lookalike shakes Jasper's hand after putting a "Vacant" sign on his dressing room as "Keep On Running" leads Carrott to Studio 8.
Episode 3 - January 30th 1988
RT: "Live, live, live, live, live, live, live from Television Centre."
American Footballers fill the corridors of the Beeb as Jasper leaves his room ahead of the following night's Superb Owl between the Washington Redskins and Denver Broncos which Channel 4 would show live. There's also tribute to all things antipodean as "Down Under" plays over a Dame Edna lookalike with a birthday cake marking Australia's bicentennial on January 26th, plus a Paul Hogan expy wrestling a croc, "Rolf" doing a mural and a kangaroo. Just because.
Oh and this tribute to Royal sperms....
Episode 4 - February 6th 1988
RT: "In association with Radio Times, Carrott Confidential announces an exciting new competition giving you the chance to win Robert Kilroy-Silk's suntan! For full details, just lie naked in front of your TV and tune in to Jasper this week - live!"
The Eagles sing "Life In The Fast Lane" and Peperami get a free plug as Jasper is greeted by a surgeon holding the meat-esque product. We soon learn it is being dragged out of a nearby patient...for some reason. (Possibly it being linked to salmonella) Then he bumps into two people with bandaged shnozzles and a third having their nostrils squeezed. This baffled me until I remembered that the previous night on BBC One had been the first ever...Comic Relief. Red Nose Day. Ba-boom Tschh. (Jasper had appeared doing one of his...ahem...classic bits, which you can see here) There's also some young women attacking two judges which I'm less sure about. If you do, drop me a line...
Episode 5 - February 13th 1988
RT: "Jung or Freud? Dialectical Marxism or Free Market Capitalism? Darwinian Evolution or Creation Theory? Who gives a monkey's? Well, Cheetah for a start! Live from Television Centre."
A knock up from the Speaker of the House...who immediately goes into a song and dance routine for a nearby camera....must be the televising of parliament for the first time! (February 9th to be precise.) Van Halen's "Jump" kicks in as a woman buys a drink from a tea lady in full Nazi uniform before a storm starts up hitting Jasp and a delighted nearby Ian McCaskill.
Pal of the site and brains behind the superb 'Sweeping The Nation' Simon Tyers has pointed out a few topical bits I missed, starting with the Nazi tea lady who represents an enquiry into Nazi war criminals supposedly hiding out in Britain, I'm more distracted by how much like Samantha Spiro she looks like.
Episode 6 - February 20th 1988
RT: "This week Jasper attempts to impersonate Phil Cool, Mike Yarwood, Rory Bremner, Bobby Davro, Chris Barrie, Jessica Martin, Faith Brown and Janet Brown juggling."
There's a bob sled team in the corridor so it must be Winter Olympics time! (Sadly its not the Jamaican team.) There's some bot fondling (and Topper reading) by some rich looking young men that positively screams "Bullingdon Club!", some terrorism funnies with a kidnapped Arthur Scargill's ransom being repeatedly reduced and a "snooker player" snorting some chalk. Then Ronnie Barker's back selling...antique bog rolls? All this accompanied by the most obscure song of the run so far, Bon Jovi's "Raise Your Hands", an album track from "Slippery When Wet". Great.
Simon Tyers: "Scargill was kidnapped for a rag week stunt, and snooker's Kirk Stevens went to rehab for cocaine addiction." I think the Beeb may have misunderstood how rag week stunts worked there...
[Sidenote: Lets just have a lovely warm nod to that Radio Times capsule which mentions Carrott's Lib cast member Chris Barrie - whose new sitcom "The Red Dwarf" had started five days earlier - and close friend Phil Cool with whom Jasper co-wrote "Cool It!" series two in 1986.]
Episode 7 - February 27th 1988
RT: "Last week, light years from earth, Barf Faxnumbra - evil tyrant in the Telexbureau Galaxy - picked up Carrott Confidential through a spacewarp. His brain exploded. So join Jasper, live, for the show that liberated a galaxy."
Those zany Beatles are straight in with their rendition of "Money (Thats What I Want)" as Jasper finds the Queen shoveling gold, Benny Hill flashing some lingerie-wearing ladies with a mac full of pound notes and Elton John playing a piano spewing currency. A crying evangelist wants money too as long as that pesky prostitute keeps schtum. While Prince Charles says down with this sort of thing.
Episode 8 - March 5th 1988
RT: "Live from TV Centre comes what would surely be the penultimate programme in the series. Unfortunately, it's the last one, but Jasper couldn't remember the word 'penultimate' in time for last week's billings."
A red glove belonging to a piss poor Spiderman outfit (its got a cape FFS!) knocks on the door and says "Happy 50th birthday Superman" whereupon Jasper emerges dressed like the comic hero who takes to the skies. He flies over a maid peeping in the "Royal Bedchamber", an aged Batman in a bathchair being pushed by Robin (This would be around the time of the desperate space-filler TV-AM repeats of the sixties series and a year before Tim Burton took it in a very different direction) before changing back to regular clothes in a phone box as typical. Time for a quick Pepsi from a very familiar figure then its off to work...
So, that's series 2 and looking back, its a shame to much (if not all) of the walks into the studio this time round are pre-recorded, even if it means they've been able to fit way more gags in. But they definitely are the reason why this sequence was so memorable at the time. The increasing madness happening in the BBC corridors around Jasper each week is a stroke of genius in reinforcing the "only sane man" nature of Carrott as he tries to make sense of the world.
One more series before he gets canned and we're onto 1989 with all its Salmonella and Sam Fox satires. Join me tomorrow, wont you?