Smack the Pony
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|Smack the Pony|
The Best of Smack the Pony DVD cover, featuring (left to right) Doon Mackichan, Fiona Allen and Sally Phillips.
|Created by||Victoria Pile|
|Opening theme||"In the Middle of Nowhere" by Jackie Clune|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of seasons||3 + two specials|
|No. of episodes||23 (including specials)|
|Running time||23-24 minutes approx.
80 minutes approx.(The Best of Smack the Pony)
|Original channel||Channel 4|
|Original run||19 March 1999– 3 January 2003|
Smack the Pony was a British sketch comedy show that ran from 1999 until 2003 on Channel 4. The main performers on the show were Fiona Allen, Doon Mackichan, and Sally Phillips. There were also regular appearances from Sarah Alexander, Darren Boyd, and Cavan Clerkin. The show's popular theme tune was Dusty Springfield's song In the Middle of Nowhere, sung by Jackie Clune. As well as the three principal cast members, the show was written by a large number of writers, the core of which went on to write Green Wing and Campus. In Germany, the first transmission of the show aired on ProSieben, where the theme tune was changed to Texas' 2001 version of I Don't Want a Lover, and featured a different title sequence.
Among the show's regular themes were unsuccessful relationships, competition in the workplace and latent lesbianism, but sketches would also dip into the surreal; such as two women jumping from their car as they neared a parking space, and brushing in front of the path of their car to help it move further forward, as in curling. Two regular strands involved a series of different women making dating agency videos about their general likes and dislikes, and a musical parody that would close the show.
It has been claimed that some of the topics covered in the series are so sensitive that there would have been no chance for a group of men to make fun of them.
Most of the sketch characters in the programme are not recurring or permanent, just one-offs.
Dating Agency Videos - A part of almost every episode, where we see different women or often sisters/couples looking for a partner/partners. This was at first represented by a title screen featuring a picture of the person, and their name and age. This then was replaced by that of a website page.
Irritating Flatmate - An irritating nurse who shares a flat with two of her colleagues. She emphasises everything, which often leads to her flatmates' doing something behind her back, such as adding soap and cleaning chemicals to her yoghurt.
The Fake Diabetic - A woman who fakes diabetic hypoglycemia so she can have special offers and free items at shops and supermarkets, and which the staff treat seriously. This skit only happened from series 3 onwards.
The Oblivious Women - Consists of three women (in different sketches) who are completely oblivious to very obvious things. Sketches included a dog-walking woman being asked to sign a petition so that owners could walk their dogs near the pond. She replies, "Oh, I don't know, I'm not really a dog person, I'm actually slightly phobic." The petitioner pauses which causes the woman to realise she is walking a dog and then scream for help. Others included a woman not realising she was pregnant until being asked to sign a petition affecting children.
Singing Match - In this sketch, a woman sings along to a tune on the radio, only to be outshone completely by her co-worker who takes over in the following verse. During the rest of the song, her singing becomes more and more intense and extreme as she tries to get back at the other singer, and she ends up screaming and excusing herself with a paper cut in her finger. This particular sketch was voted number 22 in the 2005 Channel 4 programme, 50 Greatest Comedy Sketches, chosen by members of the public. It was written by Marie Findley of the Mediæval Bæbes and was also based on their antics.
Competitive rivals - This involves the four women who try to 'outdo' each other by subtly showing off bigger and better items. For example, the 1st character brings out a small bottle of water and starts drinking daintily. The 2nd spots this and smugly brings out a slightly bigger bottle. They then look over to the 3rd character who brings out a litre size bottle of water and drinks. Then they all look over to the 4th character with the best: She guzzles down water too fast from a large water dispenser jug, splashing all down the front of her, then nonchalantly puts the bottle down not looking at the others as she returns to work.
Naked man - This recurring skit appears in a few first series episodes. The female cast members are going about their daily business when a totally naked man walks across the screen, gets off from bus etc. and causes the women to faint, then they pick themselves up.
The "Vet" - The sketch featured more prominently from the second series. It featured a vet who had difficulty recognising animals, asking questions about them ("And George is a... um...?" / "Hamster" / "Hamster, yeah.") She would then recommend silly / unusual diagnoses to the animals, such as telling a woman her kitten needed glasses.
The Ex - Another sketch that featured more in the second series. A woman clings to the leg of her ex-boyfriend constantly (at work, a nightclub, and even clinging to his leg at his wedding etc.), telling him that she's still in love with him, and hopes to reconcile (unsuccessfully, however).
List of episodes
Series 1 (1999)
- Episode 1: 19 March 1999
- Episode 2: 26 March 1999
- Episode 3: 2 April 1999
- Episode 4: 9 April 1999
- Episode 5: 16 April 1999
- Episode 6: 23 April 1999
- Episode 7: 30 April 1999
Series 2 (2000)
- Episode 1: 14 April 2000
- Episode 2: 21 April 2000
- Episode 3: 28 April 2000
- Episode 4: 5 May 2000
- Episode 5: 12 May 2000
- Episode 6: 19 May 2000
- Episode 7: 26 May 2000
Series 3 (2002)
- Episode 1: 11 January 2002
- Episode 2: 18 January 2002
- Episode 3: 25 January 2002
- Episode 4: 1 February 2002
- Episode 5: 8 February 2002
- Episode 6: 15 February 2002
- Episode 7: 22 February 2002
- Special 1: 26 December 2002
- Special 2: 3 January 2003
In 1999 and 2000, Smack the Pony won an Emmy Award for the 'Best Popular Arts Show'. Two sketches from the show made it onto Channel 4's 50 Greatest Comedy Sketches, the first being Saying Goodbye at number 39 and Singing Match at number 22.
Video and DVD
In Britain, a VHS and DVD of The Best of Smack the Pony were released in 2002 and 2003 respectively. The complete first and second series were released on DVD in Germany (dubbed in German but with alternative English soundtrack) in January and June 2006 respectively.
Seasons 1-3 plus the Christmas Specials are available in the UK iTunes store.
The complete series 1–3 have been released on DVD in Scandinavia by Pan Vision and Finnkino in 2008. It features original soundtrack with Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian and Danish subtitles but excludes the specials.
The series is currently available in the United States on Hulu.com as of at least 2012.
Russian TNT-TV hosts a localised version of the show titled Women's League (Russian: Женская Лига, Ženskaya Liga). The show features some recurring themes from the original, as well as the original content.