Taking The Flak Review: Foreign Affairs

July 8, 2009 by  
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TAKING THE FLAK: Wednesday 8th July, BBC2, 9pm Alert Me

Set in a war torn African nation Taking The Flak gives a inside look at the stupidity, arrogance and bodily functions of the BBC foreign correspondents and their stressed out production teams.

In terms of plot, it’s not unlike the illegitimate offspring of a Drop The Dead Donkey/The Thick Of It drunken hook-up. Harry is a small-time reporter covering a relatively minor skirmish abroad.

When the BBC news massive rock up, it’s a game changer that leads to sniping, bitchiness and general farce.

The ridiculously (appropriately) named Doon Mackichan leads the group as Jane Thomason, the producer that’s constantly on the edge of a breakdown/menopause. Proving she’s still got her comedy chops from her Smack The Pony days, she makes us wonder why we recognise her but not where from.

Martin Jarvis plays sleazy, arrogant lead reporter David Bradburn, who predominately comes across like the creepy uncle you avoid at family parties (i.e., one too many scotches and there’s an ‘accident’ involving the unhooking of your bra). While eye candy is thankfully provided by LLoyd Owen playing dishy cameraman Jack; his acting skills are irrelevant and he’s shagging Jane the producer.

Most of the funny is really delivered by the snarky hotel desk clerk Grace (Lydiah Gitachu) who’s constantly ripping shreds out of her boyfriend, try-hard journalist, Harry Chambers (Bruce Mackinnon).

Instead of hard hitting, investigative journalism there are shags and gags, and a surprising amount of jokes surrounding irritable bowels.

The show makes good use of the BBC news format too. Split screens and name tag bars make it feel more like an approved parody rather than ‘look how retarded the BBC are’. There are also a few appearances by current newsreaders and will be more as the show continues.

While there is a good cast and funny dialogue, on the whole it’s not amazing. With fart jokes, exploding dogs and recreations of YouTube videos, the show sometimes veers into silliness but it manages to keep it together.

In an ideal world BBC correspondents would be less like Huw Edwards and these guys and more like Ron Burgundy from Anchorman.

Real men like Burgundy read the news, Edwards, and real men have facial hair, so put down the razor and get beardy with it.

Emily Moulder