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Wake up and smell the news!

"Dr. Fact is knocking at the door. Somebody, please, let the man in!"

A BBC Radio 4 spoof news and current affairs programme circa 1991 that was to become the basis for The Day Today. Fronted by Christopher Morris with sports reporter Alan Partridge, Green Desk persona Rosie May and a wealth of other reporter-presenters including the tragically incompetent economics correspondent Peter O'Hanraha'hanrahan, On The Hour presented a mix of hard-hitting issues of the day, news and more news in an uncompromisingly unflabby manner. This is On The Hour. Arise, Sir News!

"Tonight's sizey stories: Nineteen in fog-bound bakery collision, 'Dinosaurs died out on a Tuesday', claim experts and where now for a hundred and seven of Ridley's children?"

"The wave of inner-city disturbances continued unabaited last night. Gangs of youths left a trail of destruction by breaking into the inner-cities and driving them around at great speeds. Police chased the Moss Side district of Manchester for two hours down the M6 but lost it in the fog and in the Midlands, riot squads had to confiscate Droitwich from a gang of thugs who were trying to drive it over a cliff and Kidderminster has found abandoned in a hedge. Home Secretary Kenneth Baker said, 'The day of the Yahoo is upon us.'"

While Chris and his team of rogues presented the news at home in the UK, CBN's Barbara Wintergreen kept the nation up to date on the state of the States, including convicted mass-murder Chapman Baxter's plans for Jury TV, a Nebraska governor's mission to ban women from his state and a Californian centre for pre-birth cosmetic surgery.

"Mathematicians have announced the existence of a new whole number which lies between twenty-seven and twenty-eight. 'We don't know why it's there, or what it does,' said Cambridge mathematician, Dr. Hilliard-Halliard, 'But we do know that it doesn't behave properly when put into equations and is divisable by six, though only once.'"

Written and performed by Chris Morris, Armando Iannucci, Steve Coogan, Patrick Marber, Rebecca Front, Doon MacKichan and David Schneider, the programme is pretty much the same as what The Day Today offered, except without pictures as well as pushing back the boundaries of what can be achieved with radio comedy. One or two of the items in the radio version were translated to television, offering occasional, bright patches of familiarity, together with more radio-oriented features such as live simulcasts with Radio 1's Wayne Carr In The Afternoon (Chris' beautifully spot-on impression of the then-Radio 1 deejay Steve Wright) and sprinkled thoughts for the day from Monsignor Trebe Lopez, written by Lee and Herring although they've said in interviews that the credit was taken entirely by Patrick Marber.

To aid the nation in their quest for a pure hit of news heroin, the BBC have released a special audio cassette pack on their BBC Radio Collection label, containing four episodes amounting to two hours of pure, uncut newsmeat. And if it helps, the programme won the 1992 Writer's Guild of Great Britain Award for comedy stroke light entertainment. So that's good.

"And there's just time for a rapid glance at tomorrow's papers. There's a large timepiece on the front of The Telegraph, the headline there "It's Six o'Clock, Say Greenwich Time Laboratories", The Times are giving away a 'Teach Yourself To Read' book tomorrow, The Independent lead with "Spherical Torpedo Depresses Navy", there's a picture there of a large splash, "Come Shake My Hand, You Bitches From Hell" is the headline in The Warcry, while The Daily Mail go with "Blue Giraffe Storms Out Of Peace Talks". That's it, I'm Christopher Morris, my species; Homosapi-news!"

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