BBC2 had a cheek calling 'Broken News' "groundbreaking comedy" when their own channel had set the benchmark for spoof news programmes many years ago with 'The Day Today'.
Broken News was beautifully made and brilliantly performed. The fictional news channels were almost indistinguishable from the real thing. It just wasn't very funny.
You wouldn't be able to explain why it didn't quite work unless you had seen The Day Today. I think the root of the problem is that accurate impersonation on its own is not enough. The Day Today took the style of news progammes and then stretched both the techniques and the content to the point of absurdity.
In a similar way, impressionists like Rory Bremner don't just rely on the accuracy of their impersonations. Tony Blair's "I say to you" becomes "I say unto you"; Ian Duncan Smith became Caspar the Friendly Ghost; Michael Howard ended up biting Kirsty Wark's neck.
The Day Today's opening titles took the cliché of a spinning globe and in a brilliant reductio ad absurdam had it mutating into every conceivable object. I could watch that opening title sequence all day.
At the closing credits the studio lights dimmed and the camera pulled right back. In the gloom the observant viewer could see Chris Morris's Paxmanesque anchor man on one occasion sticking a syringe in his arm and on another pulling off a wig to reveal cascades of shoulder length hair.
All that Broken News did was to draw attention to the current clichés of television news - like the 'Standing News' where presenters walk around in front of video walls - but a lot of us already laugh at the real thing. A comedy spoof needs a lot more comic business to be effective.
That said, I give the performers full marks for so perfectly capturing the idiosyncratic diction of news presenters which bears no relation to normal speech.
And their regional news programme, 'Look Out East', was a delight. I've never understood why regional news programmes have to do that ersatz, cosy chumminess, both with the viewer and in the banter between the presenters, when national news programmes don't. The only trick they missed was that regional news programmes never identify the location of the story until the last possible moment. So the headlines go:
"Coming Up: binge-drinking crackdown in East town.......the East postman who's biting back at dog owners......and the East pensioner bidding to become a skateboarding champion."
This is because if you look at the areas covered by the regional news programmes, many of them bear no relation to any other regional area and a spurious identity has to be created. This may be because the television region is dictated by the reach of transmitters. But this may soon become an historical curiosity because the BBC is to experiment with local broadband news that is focused on specific towns or even villages.
I was inclined to blame myself for not enjoying Broken News more. But then I found the Observer's preview had said "When it comes to news spoofs on British television, no one has ever come close to the antics of Chris Morris and his team on The Day Today. It may be a harsh comparison but newcomer Broken News just doesn't compare. In fact, it's not even a close third to Drop The Dead Donkey in second place."
Happily, The Day Today is now available on DVD. I really must get a copy before my VHS tape of the programme wears out from over-use.