Monkey Tennis

‘It had to be a two-word pitch,’ Steve Coogan said, ‘that created an immediate visual image.’ He’s talking about the classic Alan Partridge scene in which the TV presenter, down on his luck and living in a TravelTavern, meets with BBC commissioning editor Tony Hayers with the aim of securing a second series of his chat show. After Hayers tells him straight out that this won’t happen, Alan produces a dossier of ideas for potential programmes that get weaker and sillier as he works his way down the list. An increasingly amused and bewildered Hayers turns down all these ideas as well. In panicky desperation, Alan pushes the folder to one side and starts pitching new titles off the top of his head. Youth Hostelling with Chris Eubank, Inner City Sumo (‘If you don’t do it, Sky will’) A Partridge Amongst the Pigeons – all are rejected by Hayers. Finally, Alan gathers his thoughts and manages to summon up one final pitch: ‘Monkey Tennis?’

It’s a classic scene, one that still makes me smile when I think about it. Still, that icon of Middle England may have (needless to say) the last laugh. This week’s Popbitch features a list of real life upcoming TV shows. It may be bullshit, a mistake or a parody but somehow I doubt it. Here they are:

‘Maggot’s on a Mission’ – Maggot from Goldie Lookin’ Chain tackles environmental myths, dressed in a furry green suit.

‘Muslim Driving School’ – Hilarious tales of Muslim women learning to drive.

‘A Band For Britain’ – Sue Perkins gets to recruit a brass band!

‘Alan Yentob on Las Vegas’ – Cerebral BBC arts commentator wants a free trip to Las Vegas. Sorry, is obviously the right person to analyse Sin City.

Finally, there’s apparently going to be a reality show called ‘Clink Cuisine’ featuring cooking in prison – which was the exact title for one of Alan’s risible ideas. Apparently BBC One Controller Peter Fincham once quipped that he had ‘always said quite a few of those shows would have been commissioned’.

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