Brass Eye ran for six episodes in '97, covering topics such as drugs, sex and science that mocked the fears and mad panic that usually greet any developments around these subjects.
Morris's 'Drugs' episode centred around celebs campaigning to bring down a fictional drug called Cake and his blending of the surreal and the real may have made hilarious television, but the true genius lied in the closeness to the truth that he captured.
Years later, the Daily Mail brigade would be up in arms and making hot air about the drugs Miaow Miaow. While we sure wouldn't want to take any Miaow, the coverage of the drugs rise stank of Brass Eye, with the media seemingly thinking the drug was more of a danger to the nation because of its cute name rather than any effects it had.
Watch a classic controversial Brass Eye moment:
No topic was too taboo for Morris, tackling subjects such as AIDS, elephants with trunks up their butts or, most famously of all, paedophilia. Morris was described as "unspeakably sick" by the very newspapers that he was attacking with the show and he faced criticism from MPs and public figures who hadn't even seen it.
Morris's jokes about Paedogeddon and the fictional campaign 'Nonce Sense' out of context do sound in rather poor taste and dubious in purpose. But the beauty of Brass Eye and what makes it one of the great British comedy shows is that nothing in it is done needlessly. There is no malice or intent to upset. In fact, it's Morris's natural surreal flair that really burns brightest throughout. While there are serious undertones and biting satire, a lot of what makes the show great is the silly, almost childish moments.
Noel Edmonds warning us about "Shatner's Bassoon"; Morris chatting to drug dealers about going on a "quack handle" and getting some "boz boz"; or the classic one-liner, "People say alcohol's a drug. It's not a drug, it's a drink." All utterly silly, but never mean, packing spite or filled with any sort of evil, corruptive agenda. It wouldn't harm anyone. Apart from maybe Noel Edmonds.
Watch some more classic Brass Eye:
Morris was threatened with legal action and branded the enemy by the celebs who fell for his pranks, but whether it was Kate Thornton chatting about "going totally 2D" or the late Bernard Manning telling made-up tales about a girl "throwing up her own pelvis bone", it was hard to feel sympathetic with anyone so idiotic that they were willing to read anything thrust in front of them in the name of "charidee".
The celebs claimed that it may put them off doing charity work in the future. But if celebs are willing to make claims about crabs having the same DNA as paedophiles on camera (we're looking at you Dr Fox) then they probably need to think for longer about their charity endorsements.
Brass Eye wasn't a one-man band production. David Quantick, Peter Baynham, Jane Bussmann and the comic writing legends Arthur Mathews and Graham Linehan were on hand with the scripts. Meanwhile, the cast was jam-packed with some of the greatest TV comic actors of the era (Simon Pegg, Julia Davis, Kevin Eldon). However, it was Morris who led from the front with Brass Eye and it was his wild streak running through the show's core that makes it stand out from the blur of bland British sitcoms that dominated at the time and still dominate today.
We remain in hope that one day Morris may go back to Brass Eye. The Royal Wedding and recent Jubilee, Simon Cowell's reality TV empire and the phone-hacking scandal all look ready-made for specials. Morris is never a man to stand still (he went on to create the equally brilliant and slightly more underrated Nathan Barley and made his big-screen debut with Four Lions) or bask in the limelight (he very rarely steps out for interviews or at public events these days), so it's the longest of longshots, but we can always dream.
Brass Eye is available to buy online now for under £6 on Amazon. If you've never seen it, buy it. Buy it now.
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