In what must be good news for fans of The Comic Strip Presents…, it was announced this week that it is to return for a one-off sixty minute special on Channel 4 later this year. Once again written by Peter Richardson and Pete Richens, who wrote many of the previous comedies in the series over the years, it is called The Hunt For Tony Blair, with Stephen Mangan (Green Wing, Dirk Gently and Episodes) set to take the starring role, alongside other Comic Strip regulars Robbie Coltrane, Nigel Planer, Rik Mayall and John Sessions.
Described by Channel 4 as a 1950s-style ‘fugitive’ drama, the film is also set to feature Jennifer Saunders playing Margaret Thatcher (again, she also played her in a previous ‘Comic Strip’ called GLC), and Harry Enfield who will take on the role of Alastair Campbell. More details on the prodcution and cast are yet to emerge.
You can watch all of the old episodes of The Comic Strip Presents… on Channel 4’s online streaming service 4oD here for free (if you live in the UK), or they’re still available in a dvd box set from all good retailers, but if you want a brief glimpse of what the show had to offer, here’s a nice fan-made trailer I found on YouTube.
The Comic Strip Presents… first season started airing on November 2nd 1982, the same night that Channel 4 launched, with a first episode entitled Five Go Mad In Dorset, and continued with more series and one-off specials over the coming years (with a brief move to the BBC) until a fifth series in 1993 seemed to have brought the collective collaboration to an end. However, they have subsequently reconvened for three more specials since then, filming Four Men In A Car (1998), Four Men In A Plane (2000), and most recently in 2005 with …Sex Actually, a spoof of the similarly named British ‘rom-com’.
The Hunt For Tony Blair should air this autumn, on Channel 4.