Former Head of Comedy at BBC Says He Wishes He Made ‘Brass Eye,’ Passed on ‘Ali G’
Jon Plowman, the BBC’s former Head of Comedy, has been responsible for some of the most successful UK comedy series ever, including The Office, Absolutely Fabulous, and The Thick of It, but he told an audience at an arts show in Brighton last night that he regrets not producing Chris Morris’s brilliant tabloid news satire Brass Eye, according to Chortle. The Brass Eye pilot was produced by BBC, but the company was worried over the legal risks of running the controversial show. Plus, Plowman revealed that he passed on an opportunity to work with a young Sacha Baron Cohen, explaining “I didn’t know who he was at that stage.”
Plowman also reminisced about some of his successes, including Absolutely Fabulous (“It felt like a world I didn’t know, but wanted to know about – and those are the scripts worth making, not those written like imitation sitcoms by people who’ve watched too many sitcoms”) and The Office (“Ricky [Gervais] and Stephen [Merchant] had been touting the show about and said, ‘We’re bringing this to you because people say you will do anything.’ They didn’t walk in with a script, just the David Brent character and a tape which became the first episode. They had such fervour I knew I had to give it a go”). Take that as a lesson, young comedy writers: have fervour (or as we call it here in the States, fervor).