Saturday Live (British TV programme)

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Saturday Live
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series4
No. of episodes39 (list of episodes)
Production companyLWT
Original network
Picture formatPAL
Original release12 January 1985 (1985-01-12) –
21 October 2022 (2022-10-21)
RelatedSaturday Night Live[1]

Saturday Live (retitled Friday Night Live for the 1988 series and 2022 one-off special) is a British television comedy and music show, made by LWT[2] and initially broadcast on Channel 4 from 1985 to 1988, with a brief revival on ITV in 1996.[3] A few one-off editions have also been screened sporadically, including a contribution to the BBC's 1993 Comic Relief telethon. It was based on the American sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live but otherwise had no direct connection to the show.

The series made stars of Ben Elton and Harry Enfield, and featured appearances (in some cases first television appearances) by Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, Patrick Marber, Morwenna Banks, Chris Barrie, Julian Clary, Emo Philips, Tracey Ullman, Craig Ferguson, Craig Charles and many others.[4] The pilot show and first series featured comic duo Adrian Edmondson and Rik Mayall in their act The Dangerous Brothers each week. The introductory theme was an original composition by Paul Hardcastle.


All episodes were transmitted live but contained a small proportion of material recorded beforehand. Recordings of shows were edited into compilation repeats, titled Saturday Almost Live.

The third series, Friday Night Live, renamed to reflect its scheduling move to the titular day, is the last of the programme's original iteration. A shorter and slightly tighter-formatted show, it retained Elton as regular host. The show's title sequence consisted of re-forming clay animations, highly comparable to early MTV idents.

The show was resurrected as a segment for 1993's Red Nose Day BBC telethon, hosted by Ben Elton, with appearances by Reeves and Mortimer, Eddie Izzard, Hugh Laurie, and Newman & Baddiel.

The show made a return in 1996 on ITV, regaining a Saturday slot and retitled accordingly. Hosted by Lee Hurst, it featured comedians including Harry Hill and Simon Munnery. The series lasted eight episodes before being axed.

On 1 December 2007, the programme was revived by ITV for a one-off titled Saturday Live Again, presented by Marcus Brigstocke.[5] Comedians included Jimmy Carr, Lee Mack, Mitchell and Webb, and Jocelyn Jee Esien. The original show's regular host Ben Elton also performed. There were musical performances by Bon Jovi and Hard-Fi.

In August 2022, it was announced the programme was being revived for a one-off special, as part of Channel 4's 40th-anniversary celebrations, and would again be hosted by Ben Elton.[6] The special aired on 21 October 2022. The special gained notoriety for a musical performance in which transgender comedian Jordan Gray stripped nude to a live audience.[7][8]

Home releases[edit]

A compilation double DVD set, Saturday Live: The Best of Series One, was released on 16 April 2007, containing almost two-and-a-half hours of material. No music performances from the shows were included. Saturday Live: The Best of Series 2 was released on 4 February 2008, and The Very Best Of Friday Night Live was released on 2 June 2008. On 5 October 2009, a fourth release, a 3-disc set collecting all the show's Fry & Laurie and Harry Enfield sketches and the best Ben Elton monologues, was released.

DVD title Discs Year Release date
Saturday Live: The Best of Series 1 2 1986 16 April 2007
Saturday Live: The Best of Series 2 2 1987 4 February 2008
The Very Best of Friday Night Live 2 1988 2 June 2008
Saturday Live: Fry and Laurie, Harry Enfield and Ben Elton 3 1986–1988 5 October 2009



SeriesSeasonSlot TimeEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast airedNetwork
Live Shows
Saturday LivePilot show90 mins112 January 1985 (1985-01-12)Channel 4
Series 190 mins1025 January 1986 (1986-01-25)29 March 1986 (1986-03-29)Channel 4
Series 275 mins107 February 1987 (1987-02-07)11 April 1987 (1987-04-11)Channel 4
Friday Night LiveSeries 175 mins1019 February 1988 (1988-02-19)29 April 1988 (1988-04-29)Channel 4
Saturday LiveSeries 360 mins81 June 1996 (1996-06-01)20 July 1996 (1996-07-20)ITV
Highlights Shows
Best Of Saturday LivePilot show highlights60 mins14 January 1986 (1986-01-04)ITV
Saturday Almost LiveSeries 1 highlights60 mins613 September 1986 (1986-09-13)18 October 1986 (1986-10-18)Channel 4
Series 2 highlights60 mins83 October 1987 (1987-10-03)21 November 1987 (1987-11-21)Channel 4
Friday Night Almost LiveSeries 1 highlights60 mins812 October 1988 (1988-10-12)30 November 1988 (1988-11-30)Channel 4


Title Description Slot Time Air Date Network
Saturday Live
Re-edited show for ITV's 1986 Golden Rose of Montreux entry[9]
45 mins 22 April 1986 Channel 4
Friday Night Live Lives Again!
Comic Relief Special[10]
60 mins 12 March 1993 BBC1
Saturday Live Again
One-off 20th anniversary revival show
90 mins 1 December 2007 ITV
Friday Night Live
One-off revival for Channel 4's 40th anniversary
95 mins 21 October 2022 Channel 4

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "BBC - Comedy Guide - Saturday Night Live". 6 April 2005. Archived from the original on 6 April 2005.
  2. ^ "Saturday Live/Friday Night Live – Nostalgia Central". 27 September 2014.
  3. ^ "BBC - Comedy Guide - Saturday Live". Archived from the original on 6 March 2005. Retrieved 30 June 2022.
  4. ^ "BBC - Comedy Guide - Friday Night Live". Archived from the original on 4 February 2005. Retrieved 30 June 2022.
  5. ^ Bennett, Steve (27 November 2007). "ITV reveals its new Saturday Live". Retrieved 24 October 2022.
  6. ^ Bennett, Steve (22 August 2022). "Channel 4 to revive Friday Night Live". Retrieved 21 October 2022.
  7. ^ Baska, Maggie (22 October 2022). "Trans comedian Jordan Gray praised for iconic naked Friday Night Live performance". Retrieved 24 October 2022.
  8. ^ "Jordan Gray: Trans comedian strips naked on Channel 4 for Friday Night Live revival". The Independent. 22 October 2022. Retrieved 23 October 2022.
  9. ^ "BBC Comedy Guide - Saturday Live". Retrieved 18 March 2023.
  10. ^ "BBC Comedy Guide - Friday Night Live". Retrieved 18 March 2023.

External links[edit]