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Smack the Pony (1999-2002)

Courtesy of FremantleMedia

Main image of Smack the Pony (1999-2002)
TalkBack for Channel 4, tx. 19/3/1999- 8/3/2002
23x30 min eps in 3 series plus two specials, colour
Executive ProducerPeter Fincham
ProducerVictoria Pile

Cast: Fiona Allen; Doon Mackichan; Sally Phillips; Sarah Alexander

Show full cast and credits

Sketches and songs on the theme of being a women in modern Britain.

Show full synopsis

Despite initial appearances, the themes of Smack the Pony (Channel 4, 1999 -) are feminine, rather than feminist. There is no tub-thumping here, but instead a series of witty takes on the everyday concerns of the average twenty- or thirty-something modern woman. As Channel 4's commissioning editor, Caroline Leddy, said, it is simply "a girls' sketch show".

Competition in the workplace, disastrous relationships, nightmare dating, foolish flirting and unrequited lust were all topics that recurred throughout the show's two series. However, the comedy - whether physical, slapstick, cheeky gags, musical or gross out - was never short of innovative.

The show's male counterparts - sketch shows such as The Fast Show (BBC, 1994-2000), Harry Enfield and Chums (BBC, 1994-97) and Big Train (BBC, 1998-2002) - were mainly concerned with creating recognisable characters or distinctive catchphrases.

Smack the Pony's huge team of writers instead focused on putting their star trio - Fiona Allen, Doon Mackichan and Sally Phillips (frequently assisted by regulars Sarah Alexander and Darren Boyd) - in a relentless barrage of unique sketches. Inevitably, certain features recurred - musical parodies, video dating, 'girlie' computer games - but these weren't always the most successful elements of the show.

Predictably, male stupidity was often the butt of the joke, as with the boyfriend buying a bra for his girlfriend who, when asked for her size, answers "about five foot four", or the relationship discussion in which a guy admits the reason he is dating a girl is that "I would like to see your tits at some point". Insensitivity was a common target, as when a language student explains her parents have been killed in an accident, while her teacher insists on correcting her grammar.

More often than not though, it was women laughing at their own idiosyncrasies, and wayward panty-lines, girlie bubble writing, female vanity and ditzy behaviour all fell beneath the show's acerbic glare. Clearly, Smack the Pony aimed to dispel archaic myths about female glamour as much as to raise laughs.

Paul Clarke

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Video Clips
1. Just go, Jan (1:38)
2. Post-match interview (1:26)
3. Video dating (5:03)
4. Up the hill (0:22)
Complete episode (23:36)
Alexander, Sarah (1971-)
Mackichan, Doon (1962-)
Phillips, Sally (1970-)
Channel 4 Comedy
Funny Women on TV