Terry Phoo & Whitey Action of Phoo Action.
|Directed by||Euros Lyn|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Original network||BBC Three|
Phoo Action is a BBC Three 60 minute TV pilot, one of six drama pilots that were transmitted in early 2008, and was first broadcast on 12 February 2008 at 21:00 UTC. Phoo Action is based on the Jamie Hewlett-created strip Get the Freebies, which ran in The Face from June 1996 to June 1997. It stars Jaime Winstone as Whitey Action, Carl Weathers as Police Chief Benjamin "Ben" Benson and Eddie Shin as Terry Phoo.
Audience figures were reported at 232,000, 105,000 fewer than the average for the time slot, with a proportionately lower audience share.
The show is set from the perspective of the disaffected teenage female protagonist, Whitey Action, who joins together with tough guy kung-fu cop Terry Phoo to form a dubious crime-fighting duo who thwart many mutant miscreants of The Freebies Gang on the streets of London in 2012.
Whitey Action is daughter of Ben Benson, the New Yorker Chief of the London police. When The Queen is killed by a gang of mutants, known as The Freebies, Whitey guesses they are behind the murder while her father's forces focus their attentions on a single 'a mutant insurgent' suspect. Terry Phoo, a highly trained combat cop from the Hong Kong JKD police force is called in by Benson's superior, Lord Rothwell, as he is supposedly an expert at fighting mutants. However, his investigative skills leave much to be desired. 
The Freebies are castigated by a mysterious group of sinister characters known as the Star Chamber for killing the Queen as they were supposed to mutate her not murder her. The Star Chamber give the Freebies one last chance, demanding that William is mutated before he is crowned. While at a party in the Freebies nightclub, Whitey sees Princes William and Harry being led off by the Freebies, and she causes a big scene, preventing them from being captured but getting herself arrested by Terry Phoo. Convincing him that she is a special agent, he takes her to his hotel room, where, while looking for chocolate, she finds a case containing 'the Buddha's loincloth that transforms into a pair of hotpants, which she immediately tries on. Phoo is rather shocked by this, especially when she pulls a giant chocolate egg out of them and the legend of a 'Chosen One' who is destined to use their power is revealed. Whitey can pull anything she desires from the pants and Terry decides this means that she is the Chosen One.
Together Phoo and Action save the Princes from the evil plot to mutate them, and the subsequent plot to set the lead mutant, Jimmy Freebie, on the throne. The story ends, however, with William beginning to mutate as he is crowned, the Star Chamber seem to have won this battle despite the Freebies bungling and Phoo Action's best efforts.
On Saturday 8 September, before principal photography began, John Patterson of The Guardian, writing in 'The Guide' (a weekly listings magazine), placed Phoo Action at number 13 in his list of '50 Must See Shows' of Autumn.
On transmission Phoo Action polarised the UK's TV critics' opinion. The Daily Telegraph's Michael Deacon hated it, writing - "BBC3 has had a revamp. Judging by Phoo Action, though, the channel remains unwavering in its commitment to diabolical television,". Whereas The Times' Andrew Billen loved it "to an almost indecent degree". Writing in The Independent newspaper on Sunday, 17 February 2008 in a review entitled 'Lily Allen and Friends, BBC3; Phoo Action, BBC3; Skins, E4; Attila The Hun, BBC1', Hermione Eyre stated the opinion that 'BBC3 struck gold with Phoo Action, a cult comedy in the making'.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (September 2011)
The 'Phoo Mobile' is a Napiersport 'SuperStratos' Corse, which is a replica of the Lancia Stratos HF. The Freebies vehicle is a GP Mk2 Beach Buggy, copied from the Meyers Manx and based on a Volkswagen Beetle. During filming the car was only pushed around as the exhausts were too loud for the sound editor to cope with.
The pilot was scheduled as part of the 'Best Pilots' section, at the second annual Rome TV festival, 'Roma Fiction Fest', which took place from the 7 – 12 July 2008. Phoo Action writer Mat Wakeham was in Rome to explain the thinking behind his unique pilot.
On 14 November 2008 BBC Scotland notified BECTU of the decision to cancel production of Phoo Action. BECTU Scottish Organiser, Paul McManus was quoted as saying, "Naturally everyone at BBC Scotland and at BECTU are disappointed that the commission has been withdrawn. This was in marked contrast to the BBC's statement released 14 February 2008, which read "We really believe in the originality and boldness of Phoo Action... It's fantastic news that the work of Jamie Hewlett and the rest of the crew will be back on the channel." The cost of cutting the show, which was due to start filming in Dumbarton late November 2008, is reported to be approximately £500,000 in contract payments.
However, in an official statement regarding the cancellation, BBC3 was said to be looking into whether or not Phoo Action may come back in another form in the future.
- BBC Press office
- BBC Press Release
- 1st Episode of Get the Freebies. The Face. 07/97
- BBC3 relaunch brought down to Earth; MediaGuardian.co.uk, 13 February 2008
- Daily Record report 14 February 2008
- Mat Wakeham'sIMDB page
- Peter Martin's IMDB page
- Double Viking - Real Men Love Phoo Action
- Inside Track Image of the week: Phoo Action!C J Hubbard
- Richard Vine The Observer 13 February 2008 'One-shot wonders'
- Timesonline Last Night's TV Andrew Billen
- Den of the Geek Phoo Action review Rob Mclaughlin
- The Guardian Guide 50 Must-See Shows
- guardian.co.uk - Leigh Holmwood. 'BBC3 relaunch: How was it for you?'
- From The Times 13 February 2008 "Phoo Action; Horizon; Mistresses"
- The Independent radio and TV Reviews Hermione Eyre Sunday, 17 February 2008
- Napiersport news page: "The Car Is The Star"
- Roma Fiction Fest BBC Press Office Release
- Daily Express Monday 10 November 2008
- www.bectu.org.uk BBC cancels "Phoo Action"
- Digital Spy announces Phoo Action Green Light
- Scotland Sunday Mail 16 Nov 2008 'Kung Fu Chopped'
- io9.com - British Television Pities, Cancels The Phoo