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Who Dares Wins

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‘Who Dares Wins’ was the first comedy sketch show broadcast on Channel 4 between 1983 and 1988.

Who Dares Wins

It featured Julia, Jimmy Mulvile, Rory McGrath, Philip Pope and Tony Robinson. It helped pave the way for "alternative comedy" on Channel 4 such as “Saturday Live”and was broadcast late at night in a first attempt at "Post-Pub television” (the opening title sequence shows a man staggering home from the pub to get to the television in time for the programme).

Synchronised Swimming

The show was topical and often scurrilous and satirical, and, after a live transmission of the pilot episode, was deemed to be too dangerous to go live again, and had to settle for an “as live” studio recording in front of an audience on a Friday night before being approved by Channel 4 lawyers and then allowed to transmit late on the Saturday.

Pride and Prejudice

This measure did not stop controversial material being transmitted, particularly in the early series, and the producers Andy Hamilton and Denise O’Donoghue often had to defend their decisions to “Points of View” and other such public feedback. Julia found herself splashed across the papers one morning because a sketch about an airline (thought to be fictional) turned out to have used the name of a real small European airline, and they were very annoyed at the insinuations that had been made about the conduct of their air hostesses (played, of course,by “the girl in the show” – Julia)!

How to be an Air Hostess


Who Dares wins

Ice Skating sketch

 

Who Dares Wins

However, Julia loved being “the girl in the show” because it allowed her to play so many different roles and to wear so many hilarious disguises. She would appear as housewives, old ladies, Essex girls, a Synchronised Swimmer, The Queen, Charlie Chaplin, a female Ovum, plague victims and various other male, female and vegetable roles, as well as playing a version of herself when presenting and introducing the show direct to camera.

The Queen

Undiscovered Chaplin

Undiscovered Chaplin

More Undiscovered Chaplin

Other notable sketches included:

"The Pandas" - a recurring sketch with two male giant pandas in a zoo, discussing life and bamboo shoots. The animals were portrayed with the stereotypical mannerisms, attitudes - and strong language - of contemporary young, working-class men;

Philip Pope’s songs (Phil was a founder member of The Heebeegeebees) usually sung by Julia and Phil. ‘Life isn’t fair’, ‘Down the Toilet’, ‘Why is Sex so Difficult’, ‘Being British’ and ‘Electric Leader of the Back’ to name but a few.

Being British

Tony Robinson appearing in a sketch possibly inspired by The Emperor's New Clothes, as a man being sold "going naked" by a pair of tailors. The sketch involved Tony actually appearing on stage totally naked... and then hanging around in later sketches, still naked, adrift and bewildered. This sketch was particularly popular as a build to the finale in the touring stage version which went round Great Britain in 1987 and 1988.

Public Information Film

A parody of Channel 4's "red triangle". (These were programmes with content regarded as "more explicit" than that normally shown on British TV, and were often foreign-language films.) The parody showed clips from a supposed Eskimo pornographic film featuring Julia demonstrating "explicit nose rubbing"

 

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