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Revisiting the controversial comedy of The Day Shall Come director Chris Morris


Provocative satire The Day Shall Come screened in advance on Monday for Cineworld Unlimited members. (Discover the reactions here.)

The movie stars newcomer Marchant Davis as Moses, a Miami preacher who is duped by the FBI with promises that they will fuel his reactionary politics and save his family from imminent eviction. In fact, what agent Kendra (Anna Kendrick) is doing is sculpting her own homegrown terrorist whom she can use as a scapegoat, all the while emboldening the authority of America's homeland security forces.

Generally speaking, the Unlimited responses were an intriguing mixture of the amused and the appalled – but that's exactly what we've come to expect from the film's controversial writer-director Chris Morris. Astonishingly, the movie takes its influences from real-life cases, and Morris imbues the farcical comedy with undertones of genuine anger.

If that description makes you want to watch the movie (it's released on 11th October), then you may want to join us as we look back at some of Morris's finest comedy moments...

1. On the Hour

Curious to know where Alan Partridge started? It was in fact on Morris's rib-tickling satirical radio show. Then in the early stages of his career, Alan first appeared as a sport reporter, a riff later repeated in TV series The Day Today.

Morris's signature blend of deadpan surrealism and upfront provocation first took root here. Broadcast between 1991 and 1992, On the Hour took aim at the often foolish nature of broadcast journalism, Morris collaborating with the likes of Armando Iannucci, Stewart Lee and Richard Herring.

The show helped many up-and-coming writer-comedians break through, not just Steve Coogan as Partridge, but also the likes of Doon Mackichan, Rebecca Front, Patrick Marber and David Schneider, all of whom were to become regulars in the Morris/Iannucci stable moving forward.

2. The Day Today

If On the Hour was something of a cult phenomenon, it was hard to escape the impact of its TV adaptation The Day Today. Originally broadcast in 1994, it ran for only one series but exerted a massive impact on British comedy in its wake.

Presented by Morris as a Jeremy Paxman-esque news anchor, the show elicits sublime comedy from its mixture of poker-faced delivery and the utter ludicrousness of what's being said. This includes an attack of bomb dogs in central London, which can be disarmed by spraying them with a special explosive resin that propels them upwards.

Generously, Morris (who also doubles as sanctimonious field reporter Eugene Fraxby) often cedes the spotlight to his equally brilliant co-stars. This includes the peerless Steve Coogan as Alan Partridge, who bumbles his way through horse racing and football, and Doon Mackichan as the creepily robotic Collaterlie Sisters.

And of course, there's Patrick Marber as the clueless Peter O'Hanraha-Hanrahan, who makes a habit of either lying on air or losing the news altogether.

3. Brass Eye

Both On the Hour and The Day Today took pot shots at authority figures and institutional red tape, but Morris's mean-spirited tendencies were (largely) kept in check.

However, the gloves were off when it came to the pitch-black Brass Eye, another skewering of the media industry and moral panic, but with a far more pointed edge. (This approach became most apparent in that notorious 2001 special – if one is curious, it's best to Google it.)

The difficult show regularly courted outrage but offered an excellent showcase for many comics in the early stages of their careers. This included Doon Mackichan, along with Gina McKee, Mark Heap, Amelia Bullmore, Simon Pegg, Julia Davis, Claire Skinner, John Guerrasio, Hugh Dennis and Kevin Eldon.

4. Jam

Morris seemingly became even more untethered from reality and convention in the genuinely unnerving Jam. Another limited series, Jam tackles any number of taboo subjects in a manner designed to blur the line between extreme black comedy and flat-out horror, all accompanied by woozy ambient music that only increases the sense of tension.

Again, the Chris Morris stock company is present, including Mark Heap, Julia Davis and Kevin Eldon, but it's safe to say the appeal of this series is somewhat limited.

5. Four Lions

When it came to his feature film debut, Morrris was clearly eager to demonstrate his more provocative tendencies. Four Lions confronts head-on the very subject of homegrown UK terrorism, as four bumbling jihadis-in-the-making (including a breakout Riz Ahmed) look to make their name and launch a public bomb attack.

The movie is an audacious effort for how it takes the most appalling of individuals and renders them as idiotic, Dads Army-esque clowns. Truly, this is a movie designed to make us rethink the boundaries of comedy itself. Despite its numerous hysterical set-pieces, Four Lions ensures every laugh is accompanied with a wince or a flinch – in other words, classic Chris Morris. It showcases an awareness of the world's absurdity, and dares us to laugh at it.

Yet the film's real success resides in its moral integrity: the movie never trivialises the ideology that turns individuals to violence, and ultimately resolves on a note that is appropriately sobering and horrific.

Click here to book your tickets for The Day Shall Come, which opens in Cineworld on 11th October. Don't forget to tweet us your favourite Chris Morris moments @Cineworld.