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Series / Baddiel And Skinner Unplanned

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"It'll never work, and neither will we again."
Theme song, Baddiel and Skinner Unplanned

Baddiel and Skinner Unplanned is a British comedy programme which aired on ITV from 2000 until 2005. It starred comedians David Baddiel and Frank Skinner, who had previously worked together on Fantasy Football League.

A completely improvised comedy show, Baddiel and Skinner would sit on a sofa on stage and take questions from the audience. A secretary would be brought on stage from the audience to note down the topics that are brought up during the show. At the end of each show they would play a song, with Baddiel playing piano or guitar and Frank singing.

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Five series were made. The first two series were broadcast live. From series three the shows were recorded and edited before airing. Foreign adaptations included Australian and Catalan versions of the show.


Baddiel and Skinner Unplanned provides examples of the following tropes:

  • The Alcoholic: Frank, though recovering over the last 30 years.
  • Accidental Misnaming: Frank and David occasionally forget the name of the secretary.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: David’s fit this, although David manages to be a perfectly embarrassing son for them, too.
  • Ambiguously Brown: David refers to being often mistaken as a Pakistani.
  • Aroused by Their Voice: Frank says that an audience member’s lisp is quite sexy.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: So many, due to the audience having been plied with alcohol during the pre-show warmup.
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  • Audience Participation Song – Each episode ends with David and Frank playing a popular tune chosen at random from their music books. The crowd joins in almost always, particularly in one edition when Baddiel and Skinner sang Three Lions (their hit from the 1996 European Football Championships) acapella.
  • Butt-Monkey – Often the role of the secretary.
  • Catchphrase – Averted. In one episode when an audience member asks what their catchphrase would be for the show David replies that to have one would require an element of planning, undermining the point of the show.
  • Celebrity Resemblance: David is often mistaken for other celebrities, including Steve Wright, Michael Moore (by Frank) and, when he wears a baseball cap, Steven Spielberg.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Travis the secretary.
  • Continuity Nod: When the show changed from being live to pre-recorded in series 3, Frank realised only too late that what was written on the secretary’s board would not necessarily make it into the final cut of the show, thereby ruining any continuity. They resolve to instruct the director not to cut to any close-up shots of the board.
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  • Flipping the Bird: Frank does this to someone in the audience whose question is a scarcely veiled insult at David. He asked the director to cut away before doing so, although he didn’t do so in time.
  • Funny Foreigner: German Andy, who was secretary with his English partner Becky, was genuinely hysterical. He stood about 5 inches taller than David and Frank, commanded the stage and refused to sit on his stool until Frank explained whether he had pursued a female Japanese football referee he met while recording a documentary.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Frank and David, who having previously lived together, now live two doors down from one another in Belsize Park.
  • Ignore the Disability: After much mocking at Trevor’s expense regarding his shark bite scar, Frank interjects and suggests they should take it easier on him.
  • I'm Your Biggest Fan: A woman became secretary on the basis that she is Frank’s stalker, with a book full of pictures of Frank, including a number of photos taken together. She falls out with him during the show, causing Frank to curse that he’s the only celebrity with a ‘fickle stalker’.
  • Informed Judaism: David.
  • The Insomniac: David. His attempted cures, as brought up following a question, include wearing a wet pair of socks in bed on the suggestion of a newspaper column he read. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t work.
  • Negative Continuity: Occasionally the case when, once the show became pre-recorded, what was written on the board by the secretary hadn’t been mentioned.
  • Older Than They Look: Frank, who at the start of the series was 43.
  • Once per Episode: The end song.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Audience member Yellow Kid, who wore a bright yellow suit and wanted to be secretary. When asked why he was wearing the suit, he explained that he’d been to a wedding. He then clarified that his name is derived from him always wearing yellow. He wasn’t chosen as secretary.
  • Political Correctness Gone Mad: David explains that there are only two things you can still have a go at due to political correctness: being fat and being American.
  • Played for Laughs: Absolutely everything. Frank’s pathological fear of being unable to leave a comedic thread untied meant even in the most desperate situations he would jump in with a punchline.
  • Raised Catholic: Frank, although compared to David’s Judaism it rarely appears.
  • Stage Names: Frank, real name Chris Collins.
  • Studio Audience: Would have been a thoroughly different show without it.
  • Swapped Roles: Frank spots an audience member who looks like David if he had been left on a desert island. David and the man from the audience swap places, to which Frank says that viewers just tuning in will be saying “This show is killing them.” Frank swaps with someone else in the audience before the joke runs out of steam.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: The theme tune spells this out, “It’ll never work, and neither will we again.”
  • Threatening Shark: Trevor the secretary used his ENORMOUS shark bite scar to impress David and Frank into giving him the job. This lead to a string of jokes increasingly at Trevor’s expense, including one about circumcision which Trevor strongly objected to.
  • Toilet Humour: A mainstay of the show.
  • Wacky Guy: A couple of audience members and at least one secretary, namely Travis.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Travis and the girl in the audience he’s taken a fancy to. Her disinterest fails to put him off. It is suggested by Frank that during the ad break “Lust has turned to love.”
  • Who Would Want to Watch Us??: An occasionally vocalised concern of David and Frank’s, especially in the first few episodes.
  • Would Hurt a Child: A discussion around discipline of children almost descends into a right-wing rally.

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