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Smack the Pony

Smack the Pony

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Smack the Pony is a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 sketch comedy
Sketch comedy
A sketch comedy consists of a series of short comedy scenes or vignettes, called "sketches," commonly between one and ten minutes long. Such sketches are performed by a group of comic actors or comedians, either on stage or through an audio and/or visual medium such as broadcasting...

 show that ran from 1999 until 2003 on Channel 4
Channel 4
Channel 4 is a British public-service television broadcaster which began working on 2 November 1982. Although largely commercially self-funded, it is ultimately publicly owned; originally a subsidiary of the Independent Broadcasting Authority , the station is now owned and operated by the Channel...

. Its title was intended to sound like a euphemism
A euphemism is the substitution of a mild, inoffensive, relatively uncontroversial phrase for another more frank expression that might offend or otherwise suggest something unpleasant to the audience...

 for female masturbation
Masturbation refers to sexual stimulation of a person's own genitals, usually to the point of orgasm. The stimulation can be performed manually, by use of objects or tools, or by some combination of these methods. Masturbation is a common form of autoeroticism...

; the working title was Spot the Pony. The main performers and writers on the show were Fiona Allen
Fiona Allen
Fiona Allen is an English comedienne and actress.-Career:Allen has appeared in many sketch shows, including Smack the Pony, Goodness Gracious Me and The All Star Comedy Show...

, Doon Mackichan
Doon Mackichan
Doon Mackichan is an English comedienne and actress.-Biography:Born in London, Mackichan was brought up in Surrey until the age of 9 when she moved with her family to Upper Largo, Fife. She is a graduate of Manchester University...

 and Sally Phillips
Sally Phillips
-Career:Sally Phillips was the only woman in the 1990 Oxford Revue THRASH which also starred Ed Smith. She did nine consecutive Edinburgh Festivals, appearing in shows such as Ra-Ra-Rasputin, Arthur Smith's version of Hamlet and Cluub Zarathustra with Simon Munnery, Stewart Lee, Richard Thomas,...

. There were also regular appearances from Sarah Alexander
Sarah Alexander
Sarah Alexander is an English actress, known for her roles in various British comedy series such as Armstrong and Miller, Smack the Pony, Coupling, The Worst Week of My Life and Green Wing....

, Darren Boyd
Darren Boyd
Darren Boyd is an English actor well known for his roles in Smack the Pony, Green Wing, Whites and most recently for playing the role of John Cleese in Holy Flying Circus. He is a classically trained singer, and played a jazz musician in NBC’s Watching Ellie...

 and Cavan Clerkin
Cavan Clerkin
Cavan Clerkin is a television actor and writer. He has appeared mainly in comedy shows such as Pulling, The Inbetweeners, Smack the Pony, The IT Crowd, and Look Around You. He also appeared in the films Gangster No 1, Spivs and Pierepoint...

. The show's popular theme tune was Dusty Springfield
Dusty Springfield
Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O'BrienSources use both Isabel and Isobel as the spelling of her second name. OBE , known professionally as Dusty Springfield and dubbed The White Queen of Soul, was a British pop singer whose career extended from the late 1950s to the 1990s...

's song In the Middle of Nowhere, sung by Jackie Clune
Jackie Clune
Jackie Clune is a British entertainer, noted as a woman journalist, actress, voiceover artiste and radio/TV broadcaster. She performs cabaret, and is known for her one-woman shows and late Karen Carpenter tribute act...

. In Germany, the first transmission of the show aired on ProSieben, where the theme tune was changed to Texas'
Texas (band)
Texas are a Scottish pop band from Bearsden, near Glasgow, Scotland. They were founded by Johnny McElhone in 1986 and feature Sharleen Spiteri on lead vocals. Texas made their performing debut in March 1988 at Scotland's University of Dundee...

 2001 version of I Don't Want a Lover
I Don't Want A Lover
I Don't Want a Lover is the debut single from Texas's first album Southside. It was released in January 1989 and peaked at #8 in the UK Singles Chart. It was remixed in 2001 by Stargate and DJ Stonebridge to promote The Greatest Hits compilation album...

, and featured a different title sequence.

Among the show's regular themes were unsuccessful relationships, competition in the workplace and latent lesbianism, but sketches would also dip into the surreal; such as two women jumping from their car as they neared a parking space, and brushing in front of the path of their car to help it move further forward, as in curling
Curling is a sport in which players slide stones across a sheet of ice towards a target area. It is related to bowls, boule and shuffleboard. Two teams, each of four players, take turns sliding heavy, polished granite stones, also called "rocks", across the ice curling sheet towards the house, a...

. Two regular strands involved a series of different women making dating agency
Dating agency
A dating agency is a business which acts as a service for matchmaking between potential couples, with a view toward romance and/or marriage between them.-Variations:...

 videos about their general likes and dislikes, and a musical parody that would close the show.

Selected characters

Most of the sketch characters in the programme are not recurring
Recurring means occurring over and over and can refer to several different things:*Recurring expense, an ongoing expenditure*Curiously recurring template pattern , a software design pattern...

 or permanent, just one-offs.

Dating Agency Videos - A part of almost every episode, where we see different women or often sisters/couples looking for a partner/partners. This was at first represented by a title screen featuring a picture of the person, and their name and age. This then was replaced by that of a website page.

Irritating Flatmate - An irritating nurse who shares a flat with two of her colleagues. She emphasises everything, which often leads to her flatmates' doing something behind her back, such as adding soap
In chemistry, soap is a salt of a fatty acid.IUPAC. "" Compendium of Chemical Terminology, 2nd ed. . Compiled by A. D. McNaught and A. Wilkinson. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford . XML on-line corrected version: created by M. Nic, J. Jirat, B. Kosata; updates compiled by A. Jenkins. ISBN...

 and cleaning chemicals to her yoghurt
Yoghurt, yogurt or yogourt is a dairy product produced by bacterial fermentation of milk. The bacteria used to make yoghurt are known as "yoghurt cultures"...


The Fake Diabetic - A woman who fakes having diabetes so she can have special offers and free items at shops and supermarkets, to which the staff treat it seriously. This skit only happened from series 3 onwards.

The Oblivious Women - Consists of three women (in different sketches) who are completely oblivious
Oblivious is a comedy game show that aired within the United States of America on TNN/Spike TV at various points between 2002 and 2004.It was also aired on Challenge in the UK, Ireland and The Comedy Channel in Australia and still airs on Real TV in South Korea and on TV2 Zebra in Norway. It no...

 to very obvious things. Sketches included a dog-walking woman being asked to sign a petition
A petition is a request to do something, most commonly addressed to a government official or public entity. Petitions to a deity are a form of prayer....

 so that owners could walk their dogs near the pond. She replies, "Oh, I don't know, I'm not really a dog person, I'm actually slightly phobic." The petition woman pauses, which results in the women realising she is walking a dog and screaming for help. Others included a woman not realising she was pregnant.

Singing Match - In this sketch, a woman sings along to a tune on the radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

, only to be outshone completely by her co-worker who takes over in the following verse. During the rest of the song, her singing becomes more and more intense and extreme as she tries to get back at the other singer, and she ends up screaming and excusing herself with a paper cut in her finger. This particular sketch was voted number 22 in the 2005 Channel 4 programme, 50 Greatest Comedy Sketches, chosen by members of the public. It was written by Marie Findley of the Mediæval Bæbes
Mediæval Bæbes
The Mediæval Bæbes are a British ensemble of female musicians founded in the 1990s by Katharine Blake and included some of her colleagues from the band Miranda Sex Garden, as well as other friends who share her love of mediaeval music...

 and was also based on their antics.

Competitive rivals - This involves about three of the characters who try to 'outdo' each other by trying to subtly show off bigger and better items. For example, the 1st character brings out a bottle of water and starts drinking, the second spots this and smugly brings out a bigger bottle, the 1st character retaliates and brings out another bottle of water. It then resorts to the 3rd character with the best, guzzling down a bottle from a water dispenser.

Naked man - This recurring skit appears in a few first series episodes. The female cast members are going about their daily business when a totally naked man walks across the screen, gets off from bus etc. and causes the women to faint, then they pick themselves up. However in the DVD
A DVD is an optical disc storage media format, invented and developed by Philips, Sony, Toshiba, and Panasonic in 1995. DVDs offer higher storage capacity than Compact Discs while having the same dimensions....

 and current reruns, the men who appear with full frontal nudity are replaced by still shots of a naked torso, or wrestlers etc., which renders the skit meaningless. If the naked man is only seen from the rear, the skit is not censored.

High-heeled woman - This sketch was spread over all the series, and had a woman performing sports (such as a relay race
Relay race
During a relay race, members of a team take turns running, orienteering, swimming, cross-country skiing, biathlon, or ice skating parts of a circuit or performing a certain action. Relay races take the form of professional races and amateur games...

 or surfing
Surfing' is a surface water sport in which the surfer rides a surfboard on the crest and face of a wave which is carrying the surfer towards the shore...

) wearing inappropriate high-heeled shoes.

The "Vet" - The sketch featured more prominently from the second series. It featured a vet who had difficulty recognising animals, asking questions about them ("And George is a... um...?" / "Hamster" / "Hamster, yeah.")
She would then recommend silly / unusual diagnoses to the animals, such as telling a woman her kitten needed glasses.

The Ex - Another sketch that featured more in the second series. A woman clings to the leg of her ex-boyfriend constantly (at work, a nightclub, and even clinging to his leg at his wedding
A wedding is the ceremony in which two people are united in marriage or a similar institution. Wedding traditions and customs vary greatly between cultures, ethnic groups, religions, countries, and social classes...

 etc.), telling him that she's still in love with him, and hopes to reconcile (unsuccessfully, however).

Series 1 (1999)

  • Episode 1: 19 March 1999
  • Episode 2: 26 March 1999
  • Episode 3: 2 April 1999
  • Episode 4: 9 April 1999
  • Episode 5: 16 April 1999
  • Episode 6: 23 April 1999
  • Episode 7: 30 April 1999

Series 2 (2000)

  • Episode 1: 14 April 2000
  • Episode 2: 21 April 2000
  • Episode 3: 28 April 2000
  • Episode 4: 5 May 2000
  • Episode 5: 12 May 2000
  • Episode 6: 19 May 2000
  • Episode 7: 26 May 2000

Series 3 (2002)

  • Episode 1: 11 January 2002
  • Episode 2: 18 January 2002
  • Episode 3: 25 January 2002
  • Episode 4: 1 February 2002
  • Episode 5: 8 February 2002
  • Episode 6: 15 February 2002
  • Episode 7: 22 February 2002


In 1999 and 2000, Smack the Pony won an Emmy Award
Emmy Award
An Emmy Award, often referred to simply as the Emmy, is a television production award, similar in nature to the Peabody Awards but more focused on entertainment, and is considered the television equivalent to the Academy Awards and the Grammy Awards .A majority of Emmys are presented in various...

 for the 'Best Popular Arts Show'. Two sketches from the show made it onto Channel 4's 50 Greatest Comedy Sketches, the first being Saying Goodbye at number 39 and Singing Match at number 22.

Video and DVD

In Britain, a VHS and DVD of The Best of Smack the Pony were released in 2002 and 2003 respectively. The complete first and second series were released on DVD in Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 (dubbed in German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 but with alternative English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 soundtrack) in January and June 2006 respectively.

The series 1-3 have been released on DVD in Scandinavia by PanVision in 2008. It features original soundtrack with Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian and Danish subtitles.

Finnkino has also released the whole series on DVD in 2010.

Russian version

Russian TNT-TV
TNT (Russia)
TNT is a Russian brand name of TNT-Broadcasting Network, one of Russia’s top five television networks. It reaches over 100 million people throughout Russia offering a light entertainment aimed at a younger audience from age 16 through age 30.Thanks to its blend of innovative reality programmes and...

hosts a localised version of the show titled Women's League . The show features some recurring themes from the original, as well as the original content.

External links