KNIFE & WIFE: THE TELLY-GANZA
So… Knife & Wife is going to be on the
telly. That’s all a bit absurd, no? In case the news has somehow passed you by, this October Bubblegun’s most popular Fartoon is set to cough itself onto screens as part of Channel 4’s Comedy Lab series.
As if that weren’t thrilling enough, the one-off, half-hour show is being produced by Siriol – the Welsh studio responsible for Superted – and features the voice talents of Spaced’s
Jessica Stevenson, Jam’s Kevin Eldon, Lee & Herring collaborator
Paul Putner, plus George & Mildred veteran
Brian Murphy, and – in possibly the most important role of his career –
Terry Jones, as Knife himself.
Over the next couple of months, Bubblegun will be hitting your eyes with a series of lewd production updates. Attention: production updates begin… now.
BIFFO’S KNIFE & WIFE PRODUCTION UPDATE #1
Heck, where did it all begin, love? Having realised at a young age that it was possible to make people laugh by drawing pictures of men’s cocks, and writing “PISS” on the back of geography textbooks, it was a semi-logical leap into semi-cohesive, but no less profane, narrative.
When I was at school, around the age of 13, I started drawing cartoons for friends – stupidly elaborate, A3, full colour things, with paint, and airbrushing, that would take all weekend, and be glanced at, and sniggered over, for 10 seconds, before someone vomited on them.
I have only a vague recollection of most of them. There was a super-hero – Super Floose Man – who yearned to fly, but could never break free from the confines of his cartoon panels (the precursor to Cartoon Man, probably). And some sort of deliberately crap joke fest entitled Campbell & Milligan’s Laugh-At (sample joke: “What sort of kennel did Lassie go in? Kennel
A LEG-END IS BORN
And then there was this
pre-Viz, joke tabloid newspaper I’d put together, entitled The Gat (sample headline: “Thugs Chuck Man”). And this is where Knife & Wife first appeared (in fact, I still have two faded, yellowing copies of The Gat – alas, not the one with K&W in – which I really ought to destroy).
I’m guessing the K&W strip was intended to be a deliberately piss-poor, and awfully drawn, spoof of The Sun’s George And Lynn. I vaguely recall the first one having a topless Wife – though I may be confusing her with my own wife, who is always topless. And deliberately poorly drawn.
But while that’s all very interesting, it doesn’t explain the genesis of the TV thing. Well, it’s like this. See, a couple of years ago, I was commissioned by Sky TV to write a film. Unfortunately, after several months of intense writing, the project slammed into a wall onto which were emblazoned the words “Development Hell”. Burned out and disillusioned by horrible screenwriting rules like the “three act structure”, and “reversal”, and “not starting every line with
ARSE”, I needed an antidote.
I sought to write something stupid. Something really, really stupid that nobody in their right mind would commission. Animation being the only medium that could possibly accommodate the stupidity I envisioned, I began to pen a script. And that script just happened to be called Knife & Wife. And just happened to feature a woman married to a chicken.
Inevitably, it was given a thumbs-down by everyone. Absolutely – the production company behind animated pop culture zeitgeist mega-hit Stressed Eric – memorably dismissing it as “awful”.
So yes, the initial Knife & Wife script was dismissed by everyone. Everyone except one Robert Popper, then employed by Granada Television, albeit in a role unsuited to commissioning stupid animations.
18 months or so went by, in which time I’d given up entirely on The Dream. And then Mr R.Popper resurfaced at Channel 4, by which time he was a commissioning editor, in charge of the next series of Comedy Lab. And what happened next? What happened next is a tale for next time.
For now, read that first ever Knife & Wife script – the one hated by Absolutely, and loved by Mr Popper - which for reasons that will be revealed shortly, will never be produced.
Knife & Wife – writing the first proper draft for Channel 4. Then re-writing it to remove the bad language, racist jokes, and sexism. And that isn’t even a joke…