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And Now In Colour

Radio 4
Series One 1990
Series Two 1991
Christmas special 1991

Sketch show featuring four new writer-performers who came, fairly conspicuously, from the Cambridge revue tradition.  The format was interesting, interspersing standard sketches with sections of character dialogue.  The group, who had previously performed as 'The Throbbs', were Tim Firth, Tim de Jongh (aka Tim Scott), Michael Rutger (Michael Smith, a devoted horror fan, taking his pseudonym from actor Rutger Hauer) and William Vandyck.  Their self-inspired characters -- Firthie, Tim, Mike and Will -- presented each show as if it was coming from some exterior location (fairground, space shuttle, top of the Post Office Tower...), and spent most of the time squabbling about various recurring issues, notably Firthie's eating habits, Will's militarist upbringing and in particular the North-South divide, which usually became the North-South-Dutch divide as a result of Tim's surrealistic interjections.  Tim Firth, meanwhile, also contributed a selection of his songs, which somehow managed to rise above such Richard Stilgo-esque titles as "Everyone Can Do Impressions Badly".  Firth (who apparently composed his first full-length musical while still at school) was at the same time plying a similar trade with appearances at a piano on Rory Bremner's BBC2 series, and also cropped up in several editions of the radio Mary Whitehouse Experience

Like just about every other sketch show on radio at the time, And Now In Colour was piloted for television.  An initial, untransmitted version, based on the final show of Series Two and faithfully copying the radio format, eventually transmuted into a straightforward compilation of sketches, featuring mainly recycled radio material but only two of the original cast -- de Jongh and Vandyck -- with several newcomers including Alistair McGowan and Caroline Aherne.  The title, of course, had to be changed: It's A Mad World, World, World, World (a puzzling film reference) made it to the screen in May 1993, as a one-off BBC2 special.  Its critical reception was reasonable but no series followed.  (Producer David Tyler: "I think the BBC head of comedy watched it at six in the morning...") 

Of the four participants, only Scott/de Jongh remained in radio comedy after And Now In Colour came to a close: he had also been responsible for Radio 5's Legendary Series, and was soon to co-write and star in three series of The Skivers, a sketch show vaguely similar to ANIC.  William Vandyck dropped out of sight for a while (there are dark rumours that he pursued a career as a barrister), but has since been heard on Radio 4 again, as quizmaster on the ill-fated 1998 panel game King Stupid, while Michael Smith has (as Michael Marshall Smith -- the 'embarrassing' middle name was apologetically admitted during one of the group's routines) become a successful and relatively well-known fantasy novelist.  The best-known of the four, however, is Tim Firth, who moved full-time into writing: his credits include three series of BBC1's comic drama (All Quiet On The) Preston Front, the children's series Roger and the Rottentrolls and plays including Neville's Island

© JB Sumner 1998-2000.  Additional info from David Tyler and Mike Scott.  Last updated 12/2/00