Brass Eye is Chris Morris’s 1997 current affairs television show spoof, which uses real public personalities like Noel Edmonds and Bernard Manning as commentators on “serious” issues like weasel fighting and the latest street drug: (urinal) cake. Brass Eye is available on DVD (region 2, PAL) and also occasionally pirated onto YouTube.
Amid these real life people are a variety of fictional characters, most of whom are played by Chris Morris or sometimes the likes of Mark Heap, Kevin Eldon, Doon Mackichan, David Cann, Amelia Bullmore, Gina McKee, Claire Skinner, Hugh Dennis, Bill Bailey, Julia Davis, or Simon Pegg. What a treat to see today’s stars performing together 20 years ago!
While the style and verbiage screams Chris Morris, heavy hitting writers on the show also include The I.T. Crowd‘s Graham Linehan, Borat‘s Peter Baynham (watch close, he turns up as an actor, too), and Big Train‘s Arthur Mathews. It may make you uncomfortable, as the show has been deemed controversial, but nowhere near as uncomfortable as Morris’s 2000 show Jam.
Each episode tackles a different subject, such as the treatment of animals, drugs, or science on trial. It has the feel of something that was carefully written, with over-the-top absurdity but also subtle satire hidden beneath. The spoof is in everything from the subject matter, the names of the fictional characters, the style it’s presented in, the amateur news editing and graphics, to the visual aid and security footage. It’s sort of a sketch show wrapped in the narrative of a news program. Not everybody likes Chris Morris’s material, but if you like dark and edgy, check out Brass Eye.