Back in 1979 the BBC commissioned a new satirical comedy sketch show called Not The Nine O’Clock News. It was to be broadcast at 9pm on BBC2 while the Nine O’Clock News was going out on BBC1.
The original planned launch of the show in April coincided with the calling of the 1979 general election. As Not The Nine O’Clock News was to poke fun at current affairs it was pulled from the schedule. This was common practice back in those days.
When Not The Nine O’Clock News eventually hit the screen it featured a core cast of four. These were originally Rowan Atkinson, Chris Langham, Pamela Stephenson and Mel Smith. There was then a shake up in the line up, from Series two Chris Langham was replaced by Griff Rhys Jones. Griff had been a supporting player in the first series.
What if Not The Nine O’Clock News had not been pulled because of the General Election?
Had Not The Nine O’Clock News not been dropped it would have launched with a very different cast. Wikepedia lists the original line up as Rowan Atkinson, Christopher Godwin, John Gorman, Chris Langham, Willoughby Goddard, and Jonathan Hyde. Rowan Atkinson and Chris Langham survived into the rescheduled show. The other four were replaced by Stephenson and Smith.
John Gorman had previously been a member of the chart group The Scaffold. At around the same time as Not The Nine O’Clock News started he was also appearing in the Saturday morning TV kids show Tiswas.
Anyway enough waffling and back to the title of this article. The unbroadcast pilot episode of Not The Nine O’Clock News with the original cast has turned up on YouTube. It is worth watching and I have posted it below.
It comes with one warning. As it was a topical show you have to have been around then to get some of the jokes.