Sketches And Now, The News Where You Live

TV news studio
Across the country, there are some really great regional news programmes - programmes which take great pride in their news coverage. Programmes where standards are akin to the national counterparts.

Alas, this is not always the case. Too many programmes just end up looking like this...

<A pompous jingle is played, accompanied with a dodgy
looking TV logo.>

Announcer: This is... Err... The Television. Viewers on digital can now see Jeremy Beadle being torn apart by a pack of rabid dogs. But on analogue now, the regions news.

<Cut to: two very dodgy presenters sat next to each other, in a cramped set that is painted bright yellow. There is a woman and a man.>

Woman: Good evening and welcome to Newsquest, with David Moralis and me, Lynette Prosser.

David: Stay with us for the next thirty minutes.

Lynette: Coming up...

<Cut to a shot of a coal mine>

Lynette: Pleberton coal mine shuts after four hundred years of production.

<Cut to shot of a school>

Lynette: Education chiefs slam teachers in a Hogwarth school.

<Cut to a dog licking its privates>

Lynette: And what now for Dolly the Dog. That's news, sport, views and house fires, coming up in the next half hour.

David: All this and more, in tonights Newsquest.

<Titles: all colours are tinted brown. Theme, a cross between the music used whenever Helen Daniels fell off the sofa in Neighbours and a cat being strangled, plays. Titles show a pack of dogs running around a greyhound track, followed by some people walking down a street. A huge great big 3 moves slowly across the screen for no apparent reason. We see a view of a monument, then a shot of a camera man being run over by a tram - something which the producer was assured would look 'dead good'. The music climaxes and we cut to an aerial view of the studio, with a huge desk with about ten people
sat at it, a camera (with camera David) and some dodgy bloke holding a clipboard. The music ends and we cut to Lynette.>

Lynette: Good evening. Our top story: Pleberton's last coal mine closed its doors
today for the last time. The closure ends a four hundred year old tradition of coal mining in the area. Outside the colliery is Mark Pugwash.

<Lynette turns to look at a TV screen showing Mark Pugwash, stood near a coal mine.>

Lynette: Mark, what's the mood like now in Pleberton?

Mark: Pretty sombre really. There has been four hundred years of mining in the area and the village has been very much dependent on the employment the mine provides.

Lynette: What reasons did Blogcoal, the owners, give for the closure?

Mark: The reasons are purely financial. The company's results showed that the mine made a 14m pound loss last year alone although some locals here claim that this could have been avoided if the company had actually bothered employing some staff.

Lynette: So the mine didn't have enough workers to cope with the demands of production?

Mark: Well to be fair, it didn't have any workers bar a manager, his secretary and a tea lady. The entire work force was made redundant three years ago in an attempt to save some money.

Lynette: And what does the future hold for the unemployed in the village?

Mark: Probably a few trips to the Job Centre.

Lynette: Mark, thank you.

<Mark nods. Cut to David in studio. He looks up, startled.>

David Education chiefs in Hogwarth have slammed teachers at a local school for failing to drink tea in their tea break. The council's Director of Education, Derek Picard, launched the attack at a council meeting last night. Mr Picard proclaimed he had no faith in the teaching abilities of staff who didn't know what beverage was appropriate for a tea break, Our education correspondent Alison Vyne reports.

<Cut to classroom. Reporter stands in middle of room. Pupils are hard at work.>

Alison: Hogwarth High is a peaceful, bog standard comprehensive school which has managed to get embroiled in a bitter battle.

<Cut to view of a sixties office building. There is a sign saying 'Hogworth District Council'. Alison provides a voiceover>

Alison: It was during a council meeting here last night that Hogwarth's Director of Education, Derek Picard slammed teachers for not drinking tea in their tea breaks. Teachers at Hogwarth High School have called Picard a "waste of space" and are demanding to know why such a trivial, pointless issue has taken up important council time.

<Cut to bland office. Middle aged balding man is sat at a desk. A caption saying "Derek Picard, Director of Education" is shown. He speaks in a gruff, Yorkshire accent.>

Derek: I mean... If these poncy, suvern teachers don't know what tea is, then they shouldn't be in'th job. Tea is fur tea breaks. Nowt more. Nowt less.

Alison: <Unseen> But surely there are more important things that the council
and teachers have to worry about than the beverage that the teachers are
drinking in their break times. Hogwarth has some of the worst school buildings
in the country, and some of the worst exam results in the region.

Derek: True but if we t'improve the system, we've got t'look at the small problems first. Start down at the roots like.

<Cut to outside school. Thirty year old Lynette is standing. Caption proclaims her to be Bridget Keebie, Head of Hogwarth High.>

Alison: Bridget Keebie, head of Hogwarth High School, what do you make of Mr
Picard's comments.

Bridget: I think it's a blatant piece of self promotion for Picard Tea, of which Mr
Picard is a major shareholder.

<Cut back to office>

Alison: Some people have accused you of just trying to blatantly promote Picard Tea, of which you are a major shareholder.

<Picard freezes momentarily.>

Derek: Rubbish. Complete rubbish. <Muttered> Can you stop filming now.

<Back to outside offices>

Alison: Whatever happens now, one thing is for sure - coffee drinkers aren't going to be too keen on drinking coffee in tea breaks.

<Cut back to studio. Shot of the two presenters together. David looks up suddenly. He looks startled and stares at the camera with a powerful "I weren't up to owt mate" glare.>

Lynette: Now its time to catch up with some Millennium People. Tonight, the dustman.

<Cut to a view of some bloke getting out of bed.>

Dustman: <Voiceover> The day starts at around 4am, when I get out of bed.

<Cut to kitchen shot.>

Dustman: I get up and have some breakfast before going down to the depot.

<Cut to view of depot>

Dustman: There are six of us in the team: me, Briggsy, Smithy, Spenny. Thanny and Marmaduke Rosemont III. We go out on rounds, emptying bins most of the day.

<Cut to view of a café.>

Dustman: Sometimes we stop off for a café.

<Cut to home.>

Dustman: By the time I get home, I'm knackered and just want to go to bed. But it's a good life is being dustman.

<Cut back to studio.>

Lynette What a lucky man he is. Next week we in Millennium People, we take a look at the life of the council worker who spends most of his time putting new lamp-posts up. But now some of the regional news in brief.

David: There have been severe traffic jams in Dullswitch following a tanker spillage. Emergency services are currently cleaning up several tonnes of vegetable oil.

Lynette: Councillors in Fodton have voted to allow a fourteenth century bus shelter to be sold off and dismantled and shipped to America.

<Cut to pic of rotting bus shelter.>

Lynette: <Offscreen> The decision was taken despite an enormous protest from local bus shelter lovers.

<Cut to picture of a steel girder bridge.>

David: <Voice over> The Wearing Bridge has been recommended to be made a listed building following a decision by English Heritage. The organisation is looking at buying the bridge and opening a gift shop and 500 seat café on it.

<Cut to some ferries>

Lynette: Glexy Ferries are to expand the number of services on its routes in Glexy. The move will lead to the creation of four new jobs in the company.

<Cut to picture of a dodgy looking roadside café.>

David: And its official - Battersby's Little Chef is the best in the country. The Little Chef on the B12568 won the accolade despite immense competition from a Little Chef on the A1(M) in Durham.

<A short burst of theme tune is played.>

Lynette: Now its Tuesday, so as ever, its time for consumer issues in "Your Right Or Mine", with Jenny Billabong.

<Cut to aerial shot which then zooms into Jenny who is at right the other side of the huge desk, in between Lynette, the sports guy, the 'What's On' presenter, the tea lady and some random stranger who walked in by mistake.>

Jenny: Good evening. Tonight on "Your Right Or Mine" we look at a disturbing case of the potentially fatal door knockers, currently on sale in markets and shops, across the region. The door knockers have the potential to render the user unconscious if the user hits him or her self over the head with one. With me in the studio is the managing director of Knicker's Knockers, Mr Ernest Knicker.

<Cut to a shot of Mr Knicker sitting next to Jenny>

Jenny: Mr Knicker, with door knockers this fatal, do you really think you should be selling them.

Mr Knicker: Well to be blunt and honest here Jenny, I don't think that many people will go around knocking themselves over the head with a door knocker. Certainly in my fifty years manufacturing knockers, I have never come across an incident like this.

Jenny: But surely by selling a violent item like this, you are condoning violence and encouraging people to knock themselves out?

Mr Knicker: Well like I say, they are door knockers. The overwhelming majority, if not all of the people who purchase these items do so to attach to their doors so they can tell if someone is at the door.

Jenny: So no withdrawal?

Mr Knicker: I don't think so.

Jenny: Mr Knicker, thank you. Back to you David.

<Cut to David who is drinking a from a cup. He puts on a surprised grin, throws the cup over his shoulder.>

David: Thanks Jenny. Err... <Scrabbles with script> Ah, now, if you'd seen a giant hippopotamus, you might think you'd just had too many home made gins, but not a couple in Justsam. Instead of drinking coffee to sober up, they wrapped the hippopotamus in cling film and had it flown to Siberia. Jamus Jones reports. <Slight pause.> Oh. Well I'm told we can't go to that story owing to the fact that we did it last night. Err... In that case, lets
go over to our sports and house fire correspondent, Gordon Fogalsey, for the latest sports news.

<Cut to Gordon>

Gordon <Dull, boring, monotonous voice with lots of pauses.> Thank you David. Well... Last night was a busy night... with all six of the... regions football teams not playing. In rugby... league, there was added excitement in the Wolves-Bashers match at Wickersby... when both... teams managed to loose the ball... <Cut to picture of a pitch with lots of people just wandering round aimlessly.> The two teams managed to play on after... a frantic search... buttocks... revealed that the ball... could not be sound found. The players continued by kicking an old lager can... thrown at one of the props after ten minutes of searching. <Cut back to Gordon.> Now then... drinking alcohol could... make you a worse... cricketer according... to latest research from academics at Maddington University. Jamie Kwai reports.

<Cut to a view of a science lab and random views of cricket.>

Jamie: <Voiceover> The research team at Maddington University has spent the last three years collating its information on the effects of alcohol on sportsmen and women. The team, which was also behind the discovery that the most efficient way to stack oranges is in a pyramid, started the research after the team leader, Professor Conway Robertson, noticed that drunk colleagues at a student-staff cricket match, seemed to have more difficulty in
throwing the ball straight.

<Cut to Conway Robertson, who is sat in a lab surrounded by books and Bunsen burner, which is burning pointlessly.>

Conway: We found that people who had had two pints of Theakston's Old Peculiar were generally slower at throwing and catching a ball. By four pints, 45% of the players were swerving as they threw the ball and failing completely to catch it. By eight pints, most of the men were more interested in chatting up the 67% of the women who were throwing up in the nearby toilet block, while by eleven pints, 72% of the participants were asking for ambulances and stomach pumps.

<Cut to view of some toilets.>

Jamie: While critics have called the research a fragrant waste of time, the research team have defended the research saying that it provided vital information into the reaction of sportsmen and women with alcohol. Meanwhile,
in an unlinked event, students have been asked to avoid the university sports centre's toilet and shower areas whilst a nasty smell is removed from the area. This is Jamie Kwai, Newsquest in Maddington.

<Cut to view of sports bloke and Lynette together.>

Lynette: Well Gordon, it looks like there could be some surprising events on the football pitch this weekend...

Gordon: Could there?

Lynette: Err.. The proposed mass streak at the Rovers match?

Gordon: Oh yes. So surprising, I've known about it for six months...

<Cut to Lynette>

Lynette: Err... Yes... Well... Here's the weather with Brendan Jones.

<Cut to Brendan at the Weather Desk.>

Brendan: Thanks Lynette. Well its been a quite nice day today - especially on the Adrian Hills near Maddington, where our weathercam was earlier.

<Cut to view of some hills.>

Brendan: <Voiceover> With such good weather in prospect, its also not surprising that Middleson Borough Council chose today to unveil its new snow plough.

<Cut to snow plough.>

Brendan: <Voiceover> The new snow plough <pause> is a Tripplemax <big pause> Double Automatic <sound of an asthma inhaler being used> Mega Plough 2000 <we hear someone tripping up over a wire and a
muffled expletive> capable of poughing up 2000 tonnes of snow a minute. Now then, the weather looks quite changeable...

<Cut to weather map. We see Brendan stumbling in, inhaler in hand>

Brendan: ...over the next few days with some gusts off wind blowing in from the south of the region. There will be some sunny patches in the north, but its going to be mainly cloudy and dry. <Weather map changes> Now tomorrow is a different tale, with stuff dropping down from the sky left right and centre <the weather map falls down to the floor, revealing two people snogging behind it - Brendan fails to notice and continues waving his hands over the
map.> as some heavy rain clouds sweep across the region. Temperatures, well about <someone ushers the snogging couple off and holds up a small piece of blue paper behind Brendan - a small amount of the map is displayed on the blue
paper and on the bloke's blue shirt.> thirteen or fourteen. Outlook for the week, missley with some skity bits. David.

<Cut to David, who looks like he's sniffing something. He looks up, very startled.>

David: Brendan. Thank you. <Shuffles papers> Now then, last week we told you about Dolly The Dog, the worlds first cloned dog. But how has she been coping with being an identical clone? Our Animals and Food Correspondent,
Gladys Pugh is live at the kennels.

<Cut to the kennels.>

Gladys: Thanks David! Well here she is! The pioneering dog herself! Hiya Dolly! So Dolly, how do you feel.

Dolly Wrouff.

Gladys: Really? How lovely! Now joining me is Dolly's owner, Mark Stevens! Now Mark, how's Dolly been?!?

Mark: Not too bad. Trouble is every time she sees her mother, she thinks she's looking in a mirror!

Gladys: Haha! Well thanks for joining us and with that, we'll go back to the studio!

<Cut back to shot of Lynette and David's empty chair.>

Lynette: Thanks for that Gladys. What a lovely tale, what do you think David? <pause> David? <pause> Yes that's what I think too. Well that's about for tonight, we'll be back the same tomorrow when we'll be looking at the cat that when it wees, spells out holy messages. Until then, good night.

<Lights fade, theme tune plays. You can just make out Lynette having a huge argument with someone and storming off. The other people sat at the desks just look on and shuffle paper...>

Background Information

With any good spoof there needs to be an element of reality behind it. So I make no bones about it. This sketch is based almost entirely on the editions of BBC North East and Cumbria's Look North, between 1997 and 1999, with the odd bit of other regional news programmes for good measure. And so much of it is true.

For example, the bit in the headlines sequence where the male presenter literally says nothing more than "stay with us for the next 30 minutes" is lifted purely, 100%, from Granada Tonight in 1996.

Yes it's exaggerated but I spent far too much time watching non-stories paraded as headline news that I just couldn't resist writing it.

This article was first published on 12 September 1999.


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