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A Look Back At The Nineties
Radio 4
1993 (five episodes plus end of year special)

An interesting speculative concept: this series looked back on the period of the 1990s which hadn’t actually happened yet, from the perspective of New Year’s Eve 1999 (the show was supposedly going out on the “BB-Sky-C”).  The show was written by ex-Spitting Image writers Mark Burton, John O’Farrell and Pete Sinclair, and was similar to the ITV show in using satirical sketches driven by impressions of public figures — the news stories this time, however, were fictitious (for obvious reasons) and generally fantastical.  The regular performers were the three writers and impressionist Kate Robbins (also ex-Spitting Image), and a different guest impressionist also appeared each week: Griff Rhys Jones, Jack Dee, Steve Coogan and Rory Bremner were among those featured.  The real star of the show, however, was newsreader Brian Perkins.  On the Hour had recently demonstrated the hysterical possibilities of presenting absurd news stories as sober, serious fact; Look Back went further in employing a real-life sober, serious newsreader to deliver its one-liners, and, as expected, Perkins’ deadpan delivery revealed a comic genius.  The show was garlanded with awards, picking up the Sony Gold for comedy, the Premios Ondas and the Comedy Award for radio; a mooted television version reached the pilot stage, but was not in the end transmitted.  The original five episodes (transmitted in Week Ending’s slot during one of its periodic breaks) each tackled one of the years 1995 to 99; another episode, dealing with 1994, was transmitted on the eve of that year.  A second series went out the following year, slightly retitled as A Look Back at the Future.

© JB Sumner 1998 1999.  Additional info supplied by John O'Farrell.  Last modified 27/6/99