The Comic Strip Presents: More Bad News: Bristol Slapstick Festival 2023, St Georges, Bristol, 2023
Comic Strip Stories: 40 Years of The Comic Strip: Bristol Slapstick Festival 2023, St Georges, Bristol, 2023
Peter Richardson is an English director, comedian, actor and screenwriter. During the eighties, he was instrumental and influential in creating The Comic Strip Presents… films, one of the first instances of ‘alternative’ of comedy to appear on TV. Along with friends, Rik Mayall, Nigel Planer, Ade Edmondson, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, Richardson was involved in the production, direction and appearing in over 40 Comic Strip films, directing seventeen of them. The Comic Strip Presents… featured on the opening night of Channel 4 Television on 2nd November 1982 with the classic Five Go Mad In Dorset, a parody on Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books with Richardson playing Julian, Edmonson playing Dick, French playing George and Saunders playing Anne with of course Timmy the dog. Guest stars included Ronald Allen, Daniel Peacock and Robbie Coltrane. The film was so popular that more were made with the usual group and supporting guest stars including The Strike, a Hollywood film parody based on the 1984 Miners Strike with Richardson playing Al Pacino as Arthur Scargill and Jennifer Saunders playing Meryl Streep as Scargill’s wife. The film also featured Alexei Sayle. Robbie Coltrane, Keith Allen. Mayall, Planer and French.
Arguably The Comic Strip’s finest hour was the creation of Bad News – a fictious heavy rock band written by Edmondson and featuring Richardson as drummer Spider ‘Eight Legs’ Webb, Edmondson as vocalist and lead guitarist Vim Fuego (also known as Alan Metcalfe), Planer as rhythm guitarist Den Dennis, and Mayall as Bass player Colin Grigson. The two Comic Strip films were Bad News Tour in 1983 when the band were started out, and More Bad News in 1988 which followed the band’s appearance at The Monsters of Rock festival in Castle Donnington. Both films were hysterically funny and inspired satirical parodies.
It was a joy therefore to watch a screening of More Bad News at the Bristol Slapstick Festival in February 2023 followed by an interview hosted by Robin Ince with Planer and Richardson explaining how the films were made. After this, I went to a further event celebrating 40 glorious years of The Comic Strip with Planer and Richardson explaining more fascinating comedic stories about this how this monumental comedy group was created and its lasting legacy.