The League Against Tedium:
It is said that at the age of 50 each man becomes what he most despised at the age of 25, and I live in constant fear lest I become a badly organised coach trip to Bournemouth.
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'Attention Scum' was broadcast on BBC2 at 11.45pm on six consecutive Sunday evenings in 2001. To the best of my knowledge, the BBC has never repeated it, allowing now-defunct satellite network UK Play to re-run the series a couple of times before it folded.
The programme was filmed on a budget on £60,000 and the BBC decided before it was shown that they would not commission a second series. It was directed by Stewart Lee, whose progressively hilarious 'This Morning with Richard Not Judy' was also scrapped, this time after two runs.
The show was perhaps the most experimental sitcom ever shown on British TV, merging a number of disparate segments into a coherent, increasingly obtuse whole. Johnny Vegas' drunken insomniac news presenter ranted about 'punk kids' on 24 Hr News; a frightening, Viking-influenced opera singer wailed about being outed as a lesbian by her parents, and how she was twinned with Skegness; 1789-era aristocrats invented the 'New Flippancy'; and Simon Munnery fought with tanks, belittled Plato and Shakespeare, and delivered some one-liners that cut right to the quick.
Ultimately, the show would have struggled to attain a higher level of difficulty or absurdity than it did, but that does not excuse the BBC's bizarre attitude to its more experimental comedy. Munnery now hosts an 'Experimental Half Hour' on Resonance FM, with such gems as Lenin and Prokofiev's walk in the forest to find magic mushrooms, and Karl Marx's stab at a 'Capitalist Manifesto': "Capitalists of the world, unite! Oh ... you have ..."
As the previous reviewer suggested, Attention Scum was hardly mainstream comedy, and it is difficult to see how a 'school' could grow out of its influence, as occurred with Monty Python, The Simpsons and certain other comedy shows. Attention Scum was a genuine one-off, hosted by a bizarre, wonderful combination between Nietzsche, Mayakovsky, Artaud and Bill Hicks. See it if you can, but I suspect that the BBC will not give you another chance. For shame.
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