Little Blighty on the Down
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|Running time||30 minutes|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Home station||BBC Radio 4|
|Written by||John O'Farrell
|Produced by||Lissa Evans|
|Original release||2 September 1988 – 31 December 1992|
|No. of series||5|
|No. of episodes||28 (including 3 Christmas editions)|
|Audio format||Stereophonic sound|
Little Blighty on the Down was a satirical radio comedy series broadcast on BBC Radio 4 between 1988 and 1992. It was a parody of contemporary life in Britain as seen in the small village of Little Blighty. (Blighty being an old affectionate nickname for Britain; a down is a chalk hill, such as in England's South Downs; the village's name is thus suggestive of a Britain which is "little" rather than "great" in terms of importance or governance, and which shouldn't be described as being "on the up").
Each of the weekly half-hour episodes would lampoon a particular political theme, usually from a left-wing point of view, e.g. party politics, the environment, health care, privatisations, the Cold War, the European Union, the criminal justice system, glasnost and perestroika, South Africa under apartheid. Current events would be used for some plot elements, e.g. the release of Nelson Mandela, the election of Solidarity in Poland, or the England football team versus West Germany.
Roberts's ruling party on the council are the Rotarians, in other words they are from the powerful and privileged sections of society but see themselves as being benevolent politicians, and are a satire on the Conservative Party. The series regularly lampooned Margaret Thatcher's perceived domineering attitude towards her Cabinet, through Mrs Roberts's heavy-handed management of her fellow councillors, accompanied by withering one-liners at their expense (delivered in Jo Kendall's foghorn-like vocal imitation of "Mrs T").
Their main opponents, at the Working Men's Club (a microcosm of the British Labour Party) are working-class folk whose ambitions to take power from the Rotarians are constantly frustrated by their own indecisiveness and internal fighting. Labour mud-slinging and party figures such as Tony Benn and Neil Kinnock were sent up.
The wider world and the UK's relations with it made appearances in the shape of Little Blighty's neighbours. To the west across a river lies the business-dominated city of Newcomb, and to the east the city of Meggiton, run by a dictatorial bureaucracy.
Nearer to Blighty is the richer, bratwurst-eating, BMW-driving town of Greater Croughton, hopefully soon to be united with their Meggiton-like neighbours the Lesser Croughts. The Rotarians note Greater Croughton has virtues that they desire, like efficient transport, nice hospitals, and . . . more money!
The resource-laden, out-of-town supermarket Oppresto's (its name a parody of actual contemporary supermarket chain Presto), with its slavedriving managers like Mr F.W., downtrodden workforce, and rebellious trade union shop steward Mr Freeman, presents a moral dilemma for the Blightish. Is it morally right to benefit by trading with such an exploitative operation?
At home the Blighty Bugle with its fearless reporter and nervous editor, and the local aristocratic Lady, with her mansion and relatives, would stand in for the real-world Press and British Royal Family.
|Series||Episode||Title||First broadcast||Additional episode information|
|1||1||2 September 1988||Satirical soap opera telling the everyday story of country folk. Starring John Bluthal, Andrew Sachs|
|2||9 September 1988||Sparks enjoys economic prosperity under the Rotarians. But will it last? Starring Nick Hancock, Andrew Sachs|
|3||16 September 1988||As a sporting event looms, friendly rivalry becomes sinister espionage. Starring John Bluthal, Nick Hancock|
|2||1||21 July 1989||Parish Council leader Mrs Roberts battles on with her village toll tax.|
|2||28 July 1989||Is there anything in Little Blighty that Mrs Roberts won't put out to private tender? The parish council are worried.|
|3||4 August 1989||Parish council leader Mrs Roberts must deal with a supermarket boycott.|
|4||11 August 1989||Stinky rivers; a dwindling but overcrowded doctor's surgery; corrupt press editors.|
|5||18 August 1989||Parish Council leader Mrs Roberts finds it hard to relax on her holiday.|
|Special||The Blighty Chronicles||29 December 1989||The village's rich history is staged - but the audience is revolting.|
|3||1||6 July 1990||Parish Council leader Mrs Roberts wonders how to become more popular.|
|2||6 July 1990||The editor of the Bugle gets a call from Deep Throat, an informant at the Parish council.|
|3||13 July 1990||Mrs Roberts faces fallout from an outspoken member of the parish council. Starring Michael Troughton|
|4||20 July 1990||Council leader Mrs Roberts insists an electrical substation is raffled off.|
|5||27 July 1990||Leader Mrs Roberts experiences the poor state of local trains first hand.|
|4||1||5 July 1991||Mrs Roberts has fallen from power and John Barnum is the new Council leader.|
|2||12 July 1991||The Parish council needs its money, but will the bank be able to pay out?|
|3||19 July 1991||Council leader Mr Barnum tries to impress a delegation with a village cover-up.|
|4||26 July 1991||As the council launch a new charter, the opposition need a new initiative.|
|5||2 August 1991||When an opera star visits, council leader John shows his true colours.|
|Special||It's A Wonderful Blight||26 December 1991||Mr Barnham's guardian angel shows the parish council leader what life in Little Blighty would be like if he had never been born|
|5||1||10 July 1992||Can Parish Council leader John Barnum satisfy the new doctor's demands?|
|2||17 July 1992||With the village bankrupt - council leader Mr Barnum cracks down on expenses.|
|3||24 July 1992||Scandal rocks the Parish Council, but can they keep it off the front pages?|
|4||31 July 1992||The Parish Council's school crack down on hippies - enter Ebenezer Birch.|
|5||7 August 1992||A cash crisis hits the Parish Council - and the local family of toffs.|
|Special||Dead of Blight||31 December 1992||Lord and Lady Spenney invite the local dignitaries to dinner, where the guests recount tales of horror.|