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Cock Piss Partridge, etc

In a world of DVDs and downloads, one advantage television still has is when it comes to rights issues. Negotiating rights to music for commercial release can be especially tricky – series like Life on Mars and Skins are especially hurt by it. Even a show like I’m Alan Partridge isn’t quite the same on the DVD release as it was on broadcast. So, when Dave decided to do an I’m Alan Partridge Series 2 marathon last Sunday night, it was an ideal way of seeing the programmes as they were originally transmitted, yes?

Anyone reading this blog who has spent more than five minutes watching any of Gold or Dave will know the answer to that question. In fact, the episodes were edited for content for transmission pre-watershed – and then also shown in this state post-watershed. (The first two episodes were shown before the watershed, as the marathon started at 8pm – but they were repeated later in the evening with exactly the same cuts.) Here then, is a list of all the edits made to these episodes – indicated [like this] – and tune in for the commentary at the end.

Episode 1: The Talented Mr. Alan

A section of dialogue from Alan’s first encounter with his old teacher:

ALAN: Yeah, I got out of that. Unpleasant people. [Bitter bastards.
FRANK: Yes, in Education Authorities you find quite a few of those as well.
ALAN: Yes, I think every profession has its… shits. Sorry about the bad language. Actually, I don’t have to apologise any more, do I? Big balls. Fanny hair.]

FRANK: …and a bag of Minstrels.

Two short sections from when Alan first meets Phil:

ALAN: Yeah, I remember, I got a chalk penis drawn on my back [by some shit. I’d love to get my hands on him.]
PHIL: That was me.
ALAN: I know it was.

PHIL: If I can just put you in this room and get the kids…
[ALAN: Don’t draw a cock!]

It is worth noting that an extended discussion about watersports was left intact. Fun for all the family.

Episode 2: The Colour of Alan

The following extremely amusing exchange between Alan and South African businessman Piet Morant:

PIET: Look Alan. No clowns. No gags.
ALAN: [Just a couple of jokes?
PIET: No Alan, no!
ALAN: Please?
PIET: No you can’t!
ALAN: Well there’s no need for that! I only want to do a couple of jokes!
PIET: You can’t!
ALAN: You’ve done it again! You’ve said it again! Just because I’ve got a shit table!]
What do you want?

A short section was also cut out of the foot/spike impaling scene.

Episode 3: Bravealan

A short shot of Alan in the arcade shouting “Shitty Zombies!”

Also, one of the funniest and most-quoted bits in the episode:

CERI: Little hug?
ALAN: A quick one. [Don’t rub your fanny on me!]

Episode 4: Never Say Alan Again

A tiny bit of Alan saying “Right Sonia, let’s sort this timetable out” is deleted to aid the transition during an ad break. It’s easy to see why it was done, as the dialogue overlapped between the two scenes – at least there is a reason for this particular edit.

The following bizarre edit is rendered hilarious simply by what they chose to leave in at the end:

ALAN: Nutty Professor II: The Klumps. What’s this doing here?
SONIA: I got it for 90p from a brilliant charity shop called Scope.
ALAN: [Scope. Why do they change the name and ruin it? Consignia and Scope. It’s the Post Office and the Spastics Society!] Oh, butter my arse…

The following short section during the climatic Bond scene:

MICHAEL: What’s the one with the volcano, and it splits up and a big rocket comes up [and there’s all chinkies jumping down…
TEX: Isn’t that, er, Thunderball?]

ALAN: No, no, no, stop getting Bond wrong!

Michael’s “He means his cock!” is also, erm, snipped. But “Russian shits” and “Completely billy bollocks” were left intact. Don’t ask.

Episode 5: I Know What Alan Did Last Summer

A slightly-surprising-that-they-bothered cut:

ALAN: Sonia, what are you doing back?
SONIA: I had a row with Dominic. [I told him to put his coffee shop up inside his ass.]

The following dialogue, about miniature tourist attraction tat:

ALAN: One day when Sonia went out, I arranged them all on the floor and I just marched round saying “Fi! Fi! Fo! Fum!” [I smell the blood of an ungrateful bunch of bastards.]

And finally:

MICHAEL: [Bollocks,] you don’t know Bono!

Episode 6: Alan Wide Shut

…no cuts at all. Hmmm, rather convenient, considering that you couldn’t really edit the climatic scene, with its thrice-shouted “FUCK OFF!”.

Regarding these edits, there are two issues at hand. Firstly: should UKTV – the company behind channels like Dave and Gold – be preparing pre-watershed edits of this material? I’m generally on the side of no – whilst I can see the benefit of preparing such versions for some material, especially if they are edited together at the time of production with the original creative team involved, it just plain makes me uncomfortable for comedy and drama – especially editing them after the fact. I’d be willing to bet that Iannucci and co had no say in these edits, and I’d be surprised if they were even aware of them. Surely there is years and years worth of material already suitable for pre-watershed viewing to avoid resorting to this?

I’ve seen the impact of shows completely ruined by this kind of editing on UKTV channels, and it’s been going on for years. The Red Dwarf episode Polymorph has an edit which cuts out the last two words from “Let’s get out there and twat it!” – removing one of the funniest bits in the episode. The One Foot in the Grave episode Tales of Terror cuts the climatic shot of Mildred hanging herself – one of the most shocking and powerful moments of the show’s run. And the less said about the blurring out of Fletcher’s two finger salute in Porridge, the better – unless you especially like the final shot of an episode being completely ruined, and dragging you out of the comedy. In the above list of edits for I’m Alan Partridge, some of my favourite moments from the entire series have been snipped.

Still, there is at least a debate to be had there. Where it becomes completely ridiculous however, is what happened last Sunday evening to I’m Alan Partridge, and what is a common problem on Dave and Gold: the broadcasting of these butchered pre-watershed versions after the watershed. This makes precisely no sense, and is horrendously damaging to their programming. It is true that the Ofcom Broadcast Bulletins are filled with examples of channels playing out the wrong versions of material, and having a few fucks go out on Sunday morning in the God slot. But the answer to this is not to edit and blandify your entire output. Just keep track of your pre-watershed and post-watershed versions, and schedule accordingly. It’s really not that hard. Pay attention.

The thing is, I doubt there’s any conspiracy here. I expect the issue hasn’t even been thought about that much. Stick out whatever version is on the server/archive/shelf, fill four hours, job done. And in the process, channels like Dave and Gold manage to play out these bastardised programmes for years. Forgive me for wanting to watch the programme as the creators originally intended, rather than versions which have the good bits snipped out by someone completely removed from the creative team. But if you’re going to do that: keep track of your versions, and play the uncut versions after the watershed. It’s pretty much the least you can do.

Sometimes, channels prove they’re run by people paying attention. Other times, they just seem to be filled with the nearest material to hand. I want telly done by people who care, please.

■ Posted 24th July 2012 @ 7pm in Best Of, Comedy, Television. 4 Comments.

4 Comments

Adam Musgrave on 24 July 2012 @ 8pm

This is doubly ridiculous because the morning of that exact same Sunday I woke up to two episodes of Shooting Stars on Dave with all the profanities intact!


Mark Allen on 24 July 2012 @ 8pm

E4 are blighters for this too. I recall entire scenes being rendered pointless in Scrubs by poorly-removed fantasy sequences and the odd swear. What’s most baffling is when they leave a punchline in but remove the buildup.


Steve on 25 July 2012 @ 11pm

Channel 4 (and therefore E4) are the absolute worst when it comes to editing.

Recently, they’ve started airing repeats of the US sitcom ‘How I Met Your Mother’ in the daytime. They’ve actually started cutting out bits from these daytime airings that aren’t even offensive, just so they can fit the episodes into shorter time slots on the schedule. It’s ridiculous.


Barbara Kirk on 20 July 2016 @ 5pm

‘No way, you big spastic!’ was cut out of the episode where Alan and the RTE men go to Jed Maxwell’s house. By the way, GOLD have also aired the clean versions of Little Britain that first went out on BBC-1- but with the dirty words from the BBC-3 versions present on the subtitles!


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