This Is Spinal Tap was phenomenal because it not only captured the essence of British Heavy Metal band but also its detail. A remarkable achievement considering it was made by Americans. Bad News can be seen partly as a British answer to this, but its origins have more to do with Adrian Edmonson's interest in the metal genre. Famous for playing Vyv from The Young Ones, by 1985, he had enough pull to get his own ideas and scripts produced. This time, through Channel Four's The Comic Strip Presents . . . The result was the first episode on this two part video, simply called Bad News.
Assuming the format of a badly made 'Rockumentary,' the story follows the band, Bad News, as they embark on an epic tour to . . . Grantham! (This choice was hardly incidental as this small town is the birthplace of Margaret Thatcher). With Nigel Planner and Rik Mayall on board, the atmosphere and comedy is quite similar to The Young Ones. Edmonson as Vim Fuego plays a less exaggerated, more intelligent, but still brutally straightforward working class character, while Rik Mayall plays a cooler but still embarrassingly pretentious middle-class prat, Colin Grigson. Nigel Planner's Den Dennis is brilliantly mind-numbingly down-to-earth in a very British way (see the scene in the roadside cafe where he complains about his sausage and chips). The fourth member of the band, Spider, the drummer, played by Comic Strip producer, Peter Richardson, is the only one who wasn't in The Young Ones. Female support is provided by French and Saunders playing a high school girl who runs away with the band and a spaced out rock journalist.
The low production values add to the charm of the piece and much of the humor is as good as anything in Spinal Tap. There is also a serious point being made about the way so-called 'realist' documentaries are manipulated and fabricated.
The mild success of this episode led to a sequel being made 2 years later with the same cast, called More Bad News. This time the band members who have split up acrimoniously are the subject of a forced reunion sponsored by a TV and record company.
Although more money was obviously on the table and production values were pushed higher, the writing and story line were somewhat weaker. The high points are when Colin Grigson is tracked down to his 9-to-5, working-in-a-bank, middle class life and tries to wriggle out of this by pretending to be his own twin brother, and also the visual comedy of the video shoot for Warriors of Genghis Khan.
The main interest this time round is the band playing the Monsters of Rock Festival at Castle Donnington. They were actually on the bill and got bottled off the stage. Guest appearances are made by Ozzy Osborne and Lemmy out of Motorhead, basically slagging them off. Part of this may have been simply jealousy because the music by Edmonson and Simon Brint is actually very good metal music.
Revenge of Riff Raff
3rd March, 2016