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Series / The Goes Wrong Show

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"They kiss. Roll credits."
Dennis, at the end of "A Trial to Watch"

The Goes Wrong Show is a BBC comedy anthology, created by Mischief Theatre, that debuted in 2019.

The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society has been commissioned to produce Play of the Week, a televised series of short plays on the BBC. Unfortunately, despite everyone's best intentions, each production inevitably goes wrong.

Hilarity Ensues.

The first series has six episodes:

  • "The Spirit of Christmas": Santa and his elves attempt to help a little girl regain the spirit of Christmas.
  • "The Pilot (not the pilot)": An RAF pilot in WWII, injured in a previous flight, takes on a desk job to crack German codes.
  • "A Trial to Watch": A legal drama, in which a former cop is accused of killing his brother.
  • "The Lodge": Horror set in the 1960s.
  • "Harper's Locket": Period romance.
  • "90 Degrees": A family story of lust and betrayal, set in the American south.

A second series has been announced by the BBC.

This work shares a character page with other Mischief Theatre works.

Some members of the cast recorded "Goes Wrong Alongs", episode commentaries to give viewers a glimpse at their creative process, bits that had to be cut, and behind-the-scenes trivia. These can be seen on the Mischief Theatre YouTube channel.

This series provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: There is no further mention of the Max/Sandra and Jonathan/Annie invokedrelationships established in previous Mischief Theatre productions, although Sandra refuses to kiss Max onscreen in "Harper's Locket", suggesting there has been some falling out.
    • In fact, there are almost no references to the actors' lives outside the plays beyond Robert's divorce, most probably due to the limited time slot. Henry Shields announced that this would be altered for the second series.
  • Accidental Innuendo: invoked Dennis regularly makes these in "A Trial to Watch" due to mangling or forgetting his lines.
    Dennis/McKennon: I'm tired of getting off with guilty men!
  • Acquired Error at the Printer: As Chris explains before presenting "The Lodge", this happened to the publicity materials for a previous Play of the Week Halloween season, forcing them to present such stage adaptations as The Texas Chainsaw Massager (where Leatherface would give back rubs to the local community), as well as a pajama-based production of Nightwear On Elm Street.
  • Advertisement:
  • All There in the Manual: Publicity material for the show mentions that Dennis had to be given the lead role in "A Trial to Watch" because of "a conversation with his grandmother that turned out to be legally binding."
  • Amusing Injuries: A staple of each episode is the actors getting unintentionally hurt but carrying on. A particularly wince-worthy example is "The Pilot (not the pilot)" where Camille (Vanessa) gets hit painfully in the face three times but tries not to show it.
  • An Arm and a Leg: The Lieutenant (Chris) in "The Pilot (not the pilot)" is missing a leg from a flying accident.
  • A Storm Is Coming: Celeste (Sandra) says this at the beginning of Haper's Locket, referencing the family tension that will take place shortly after a rainstorm later on.
  • Ass Shove: Subverted. When Trevor is unconscious and bare-assed on the table in "Harper's Locket", Vanessa offers a meat thermometer to check if the 'rump roast' is ready. She gets waved off.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Everyone has their moments, but Dennis takes this to extremes. Max mugs for the camera at inappropriate times, while Sandra gives it seductive glances. Robert jumps from Large Ham to calm mid-sentence.
  • Bedsheet Ghost: When Max's character in "The Lodge" dies, Vanessa puts a sheet over him. Max briefly tries to turn the role into this trope before Chris stops him.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Drives the plot of "A Trial to Watch" due to the leading man and his ex-wife still having feelings for each other ... or it would if not for said leading man being played by Dennis.
  • Big Bad:
    • Edwin Graves (Chris) in "Harper's Locket".
    • Wycomb (Annie) in "The Pilot (Not The Pilot)".
    • Renee (Vanessa) and Barbara (Sandra) in "90 Degrees".
    • Albert Fortnoy (Robert) and the Ghost of Vera (Sandra) in "The Lodge".
    • Jack Inwood (Chris) in "A Trial to Watch".
  • Bitch Slap: In "The Lodge", Robert refuses to back down during a fight scene, and when Chris lightly gives him a mock slap (in character) Robert responds with one of these.
  • *Bleep*-dammit!: In "90 Degrees", the profanities uttered by Buddy (Dennis) are supposed to be censored, but the timing is so off that it gives this effect instead.
    Dennis/Buddy: Larry! I just spoke with pa; you really are a no-good [bleep] crap!
  • Brick Joke: Various small hiccups in each episode will usually come back to haunt the production later. Examples:
    • While Chris is introducing "The Spirit of Christmas", Dennis, who was to play Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, comes on to ask Chris what noise a reindeer makes, to which Chris replies "Clearly a matter for rehearsals, Dennis!". Guess what "noise" Dennis makes as he carries Santa off at the end of the play.
    • In "The Lodge"...
      • About halfway through the episode, Chris causes a prop gun on the wall to go off early when he bumps into it... so when Robert attempts to fire it later, it's unloaded, and he has to continue his Evil Laugh as he reloads it.
      • As David (Chris) attempts to leave the house, he's supposed to find that the front door is locked; however, when he tries opening it, it's unlocked, and he has to lock it himself. This means that when the police officer (Jonathan) comes in to save Alice (Annie), he can't get the door open in time.
      • Speaking of doors, early in the episode, Max accidentally pulls out the doorknob when he tries to open the kitchen door. So, when the group has to hide in the kitchen from Fortnoy (Robert) later, they can't get in.
    • Early in "Harper's Locket", the head flies off of Robert's croquet mallet, crashing through the ceiling of the dining room set and leaving a hole above the chair where Robert needs to sit later. Then a rainstorm rolls in...
  • British Brevity: The first series only has 6 episodes.
  • Cain and Abel: Jack and Nigel Inwood, respectively, in the Show Within a Show of "A Trial to Watch."
  • Call-Back: To several of the stage shows:
    • In "The Spirit of Christmas". As Mr. Snowman, Chris struggles with opening a package with his twig arms, similar to how he struggled to open a bottle with a hook hand in Peter Pan Goes Wrong.
    • In "The Pilot (not the pilot)" the twist of the Show Within a Show is revealed to the audience early. This happened in the original The Play That Goes Wrong.
    • Chris' reference to "More Horse" in "Harper's Locket" is a call-back to a sketch Mischief Theatre performed at the Olivier Awards.
    • In "The Lodge", a cut-away to a previously-filmed bit has people intrude on it, as in Peter Pan Goes Wrong.
    • The Gravity Screw scenes in "90 Degrees" are like the bank office scene in The Comedy About A Bank Robbery.
    • Vanessa and Dennis' confusing exchange over "beer" and "bear" harks back to Robert and Dennis' garbled exchange in Peter Pan Goes Wrong.
  • The Cameo:
    • Tommy Blaize from Strictly Come Dancing makes a brief appearance in "The Spirit of Christmas" as Santa's singing voice before Robert snatches the microphone away.
    • Members of the then-current cast of The Play That Goes Wrong appear as jury members in "A Trial to Watch" including Ellie Morris, who is better known for originating the role of Lucy in Peter Pan Goes Wrong.
  • Camera Abuse:
    • Dennis' Extreme Close-Up in "A Trial to Watch", after his big revelation in the case, is ruined by the camera hitting him in the head.
    • At the end of "The Lodge", Sandra lunges up into the shot for a Jump Scare and bangs her forehead on the camera.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Played with in "The Lodge". There's a gun on the wall, and it goes off accidentally when Chris bumps into it... which means that when Robert attempts to fire it later, it's unloaded.
  • Complexity Addiction: The show would be far less amusing if the cast weren't trying to use props that were far too elaborate or fiddly for the job at hand. See: The present vending machine in "The Spirit of Christmas", the vacuum cleaner tongue for the horse in "Harper's Locket", and the remote-control dog in "90 Degrees".
  • Cool Shades: Max insisted on wearing these in "The Lodge", even though his character is supposed to be indoors on a dark night.
  • Corpsing: A rather subtle example, but in "The Lodge," when the gun falls apart (a genuine accident, completely unscripted) and the actor begins to panic, Jonathan Sayer (Dennis) can be seen shaking with suppressed laughter in the background.
  • Critical Research Failureinvoked: Invoked. The writer of "The Pilot (not the pilot)" is described this way. Among other things, the World War II drama takes place in 1961, Britain and Germany are at war in Vietnam, and the King of England is Henry VIII.
  • Cross-Cast Role: Annie takes on the role of Commander Wycombe in "The Pilot (not the pilot)" because the original actor, Chris's father, doesn't show up.
  • Cute, but Cacophonic: Vanessa pitches her voice up into a loud squeak to play Belle in "The Spirit of Christmas". Taken Up to Eleven when she has to sing in Belle's voice at a nearly impossibly high register to match the backing track.
  • Cut Phone Lines: Fortnoy (Robert) attempts this in "The Lodge" while David (Chris) calls the police to report Tony's (Max) death. Unfortunately, the line is too thick for the scissors to cut through, even after multiple attempts.
  • Dawson Casting:
    • invoked Belle (in "The Spirit of Christmas") is supposed to be a young girl but is played by a grown woman.
      Belle/Vanessa: I'm only a little girl.
      Santa/Robert: (Breaking character) You're 26!
    • Annie plays an even less convincing child in "The Lodge."
  • A Day in the Limelight: Dennis, who spends most of the series relegated to portraying stage settings, plays the main character in "A Trial to Watch".
  • Depraved Bisexual: In "90 Degrees", Renee (Vanessa) is involved with all three Burgess siblings as part of her Gold Digger plans.
  • Dirty Cop: Jack (Chris) in "A Trial to Watch" appears to be an ex-cop who was kicked off the force for gambling issues. He attempts to use something he learned as a cop to blackmail the judge.
  • Double-Meaning Title: "90 Degrees" refers to the heat outside, and seems just to set up the joke involving the Upside Down Blueprints...but it also refers, perhaps in-universe, to the absurd Shocking Swerve at the end.
  • Downer Ending: "The Lodge" and "90 Degrees" both have genuine downer endings, although each of the blows are softened by last-minute mishaps.
  • Drop-In Character: Jonathan plays one in "90 Degrees", who is there solely to appear at the window and offer the characters desserts.
  • Easter Egg: Robert's book on acting is sprinkled across multiple episodesnote .
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Ruffles in "90 Degrees".
  • Fake American: Attempted with varying degrees of success by the cast in "90 Degrees", and the cause for an extended "beer/bear" pun scene.
  • Fight Scene Failureinvoked: In "A Trial To Watch", between Nigel (Max) and Jack (Chris); and in "The Lodge" between David (Chris) and Fortenoy (Robert).
  • Food Slap: In "90 Degrees", Annie is supposed to spray her castmates with a water gun for scenes that require them to cry. When she tries to do this for Dennis, she's out of water, so she tosses hot coffee in his face instead.
  • Foreshadowing: In "90 Degrees", microphone audio from Chris and Robert has them say that toy maker, who usually makes Jack-In-The-Boxes, built their set furniture. Jacks later pop out of the couch used in the show.
    • Also in "90 Degrees" when Melinda (Annie) and Barb (Sandra) discuss Buddy's (Dennis) wife Renee (Vanessa) Melinda notes she has eyes for another, prompting Barb to say that there's nothing between Renee and Larry (Max), which in turn prompts Melinda to note she never mention Larry. While this could count as a case of I Never Said It Was Poison, as Larry and Renee had had at least one moment of weakness, it also hints that she is actually having an affair with Barb.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: Parodied at the end of "The Lodge", where the Jump Scare provided by Vera's ghost is ruined by Sandra hitting her forehead on the camera.
  • Frame-Up: Edwin (Chris) attempts to frame Harper (Max) for theft in "Harper's Locket".
    • In "90 Degrees", Robert manages to get Chris arrested for shoplifting as well as himself.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • In "The Spirit of Christmas" while the family is reconciling with one another, Trevor gets into a physical fight with Robert while trying to wrestle away the bottle of sherry.
    • In "Harper's Locket" Edwin (Chris) and Bernard (Robert) have a spirited debate on servants as Bernard states "I would never dream of harming one of my servants." Cue him losing his croquet mallet, that smashes through the glass ceiling and knocking Vanessa straight in the head.
    • From the same play, Jonathan continually has trouble with the doors, thus is always seen in the background trying to exit or enter a scene.
    • In "90 Degrees" while Melinda (Annie) and Barb (Sandra) are having a conversation on Buddy's (Dennis) gold digging wife Renee (Vanessa), the others are having trouble getting Dennis and his wheel chair through the sideways door. Sandra and Annie even having to repeat the entire conversation in its entirety to give the others more time.
  • Fun with Homophones: In "The Lodge", Emma (Vanessa) tells Fortenoy (Robert) that she was woken up by a strange noise, to which he replies "It's most likely a bat; they often flitter about this place at night". Cue said (cricket) bat flying past the pair.
  • Gag Boobs: Melinda (Annie), in "90 Degrees", has obvious fakes...which fall out, and aren't level when replaced.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: In "90 Degrees", when it's revealed that Renee (Vanessa) is having an affair with Barbara (Sandra) and worked with her to get the family business for herself, Robert (who's voicing the dog) lasciviously says he has some thoughts on this. Vanessa hastily silences him.
  • Glass-Shattering Sound: From Jonathan, of all people, in "Harper's Locket" when he can neither open the door or smash through the window next to it. So he screeches at a high pitch to break the window.
  • Gold Digger: Renee (Vanessa) in "90 Degrees", who has seduced all three of the Burgess siblings so she can run off with whichever one inherits their dying father's business.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Amazingly, every now and then the set designers/makeup folks end up doing things well...too well as they make something so realistic that it throws the actors off.
    • "The Pilot (Not the Pilot)" is supposed to end with Jonathan cackling that he's not Winston Churchill but a German imposter..only to find the makeup/mask is so well applied that he can't peel it off so just rolls with "I really am Churchill."
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Er...have you read the title?
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: In "The Pilot (not the pilot)", Camille (Vanessa) is supposed to pepper her English dialogue with multiple languages. But she can't remember the proper lines so she ends up reciting song lyrics instead. In French, she recites Frere Jacques, in German she quotes 99 Luftballons, and in Spanish all she can say is "La la la la la la bamba." At one point, she simply says "Petits Filous" because she can't think of anything else.
  • Gravity Screw: A non-science fiction version of Cross Gravity, caused by the sets being built at the wrong angles. The actors try to play the scene as if gravity were normal, with limited success.
  • Greed: In "90 Degrees", Barbara (Sandra) has an Establishing Character Moment when she first arrives, talking to somebody on her cell phone about how she doesn't care about layoffs, she just cares about profits.
  • Groin Attack: Two of these in "Harper's Locket": Jonathan steps on a croquet mallet and gets hit in the crotch, while Max gets his trousers caught in the mechanism inside Dennis's horse head.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: In their shared death scene in "The Lodge," Chris and Robert keep one-upping each other with increasingly loud and broad actions to try and get the last word in.
    Robert: You're doing far too much there, Chris.
  • High Hopes, Zero Talent:
    • Robert, in line with previous Mischief Theatre productions, who continues trying to sabotage Chris in the hope of replacing him as leading man.
    • "Harper's Locket" shows that Max fits this trope with regard to his secret ambition of becoming a scriptwriter.
  • High-Pressure Blood: When the pump on Max's blood tubing finally works in "A Trial to Watch", it spurts a torrent of red liquid on Chris.
  • Informed Flaw: "90 Degrees" is said to contain coarse language and that steps have been taken to obscure it (with badly timed bleeps) but the actual dialogue is actually quite mild and doesn't warrant any censorship. Presumably, this is a swipe at American TV, which censors swearing far more often than British TV, but of course the language here would not get such a treatment.
  • Insistent Terminology: The second episode is called "The Pilot" because it's about a pilot, but it's not the Pilot Episode, so the phrase "(not the pilot episode)" comes up on screen when being a pilot is discussed.
  • Inter-Class Romance: "Harper's Locket" focuses on such a romance between stable hand Harper (Max) and noblewoman Celeste (Sandra.)
  • Intoxication Ensues: The set for "The Spirit of Christmas" uses real alcohol as props and Robert quickly gets drunk after indulging.
  • Is This Thing Still On?:
    • In "Harper's Locket", while showing pre-taped footage of a wooden horse exploding.
      Cameraman: Action! (horse explodes) ...You're right, we probably could've used less.
    • In "90 Degrees", as Robert voices Ruffles offstage, his headset occasionally picks up and broadcasts Chris's remarks, as well as an entire altercation where Robert's almost caught shoplifting, then later when the police come to arrest him.
      Robert: Oh, microphone's still on. Uh... the dog's dead. (audio cuts out)
  • Killer Outfit: Chris narrowly averts this trope twice:
    • In "The Spirit of Christmas", during his solo number as Mr. Snowman, a spin move causes his scarf to be caught in a toy-making machine, which nearly consumes him. Fortunately, he slips out of his costume right before it's engulfed, leaving him in his underwear for the rest of the play.
    • In "The Pilot (not the pilot)", his tie gets caught in the crank mechanism of the phone he's calling a warning into. His next line delivery ends up sounding constricted until Sandra could cut him free.
  • Laughing Mad: Robert's character in "The Lodge" does an Evil Laugh, but it quickly devolves into desperation as Robert futilely tries to find some way to exit the scene; the chair lift he's riding pitches him through a wall, the door leading off the landing opens onto another wall, the kitchen door can't be opened and the study door has a seven foot drop behind it. He finally gives up and exits through the cupboard under the stairs, with his laughter basically screams by this point. It happens again later in the play, where his character tries to shoot Chris and Vanessa — but the prop gun had already been fired earlier by accident so there's no flash-bang, and it then comes to pieces in his hands.
  • Lives in a Van: In "The Spirit of Christmas", Robert says while drunk that he lives in his car following his divorce (although he reassures the audience that it's not that bad, since the car is a Honda Civic.)
  • The Living Dead: In both "A Trial to Watch" and "The Lodge" Max's character dies, but even when he's supposed to be dead he can't resist the urge to sit up and mug for the camera.
  • Mammy: Melinda (Annie) covers this role in "90 Degrees". She's put in a Fat Suit with Gag Boobs to give her the appropriate size.
  • Mixed Metaphor: Dennis delivers one in "A Trial to Watch", due to his dodgy line recall.
    Dennis/McKennon: I've got Shawcroft wrapped around my little sleeve. Ever since the Weatherby case, I've had a real finger up his ace.
  • Never Work with Children or Animals: invoked In "The Spirit of Christmas", when Santa asks the children what they want for Christmas, they respond with "An Xbox!" and "A PlayStation!" despite having been (apparently) told to ask for things that were within the show's budget.
    • The cast use a live cat in "Harper's Locket", only for it to get trapped inside the piano and attack Annie when she opens the lid.
  • Newspaper Dating: In "The Lodge", Emma (Vanessa) finds Fortenoy's (Robert) scrapbook containing a newspaper article about a previous house guest who disappeared in 1937. She holds up a paper announcing the Spice Girls reunion tour.
  • Nobility Marries Money: In "Harper's Locket", this is apparently the reason for the arranged marriage between Celeste (Sandra) and Baron Graves (Chris.)
  • Non-Singing Voice: invoked Robert is clearly lip-synching his musical number in "The Spirit of Christmas" and the camera pans a little too far to reveal the actual singer just off-set. Robert then drunkenly grabs the microphone and takes over, singing horrendously loud and off-key.
  • Noodle Incident: When introducing "Harper's Locket", Chris mentions how the CPDS previously televised "More Horse", an unlicensed sequel to War Horse. He doesn't go into detail but mentions that the complaints were plentiful and abusive, and that he would never again perform his Jamaican accent.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Chris' scarf gets caught in the rollers of the magic toy machine in "The Spirit of Christmas" and he almost gets strangled and crushed before he manages to slip out.
  • Oh, Crap!: The cast soldiers on regardless despite their dismay at everything going wrong; but in "90 Degrees" Max, after going through hell acting on a set that was built at the wrong angle, gets a look at the next set and moans "Oh no." He's right to be dismayed, as the set is upside down.
  • Obvious Stunt Double: Played for Laughs. In "The Pilot (not the pilot)", Annie, a full-figured woman, is doubled by a muscular man for shirtless scenes.
  • Overly Long Gag: Several but the topper has to be "the Lodge" as Robert has to keep Laughing Mad as he fails to find a proper exit out of the set.
  • Permanent Placeholderinvoked: In "A Trial to Watch", Dennis ends up mistaking a placeholder for improvised dialogue as one of his lines.
    Robert/Shawcroft: Is there anything you'd like to add?
    Robert/Shawcroft: My God, you're good.
  • Pillow Pregnancy: Vanessa's character in "The Lodge" is pregnant, requiring her to stuff a balloon up her shirt... which keeps bursting regularly when other characters try to pat her stomach. On one occasion it flies away and she has to chase after it.
  • Pocket Protector: In "Harper's Locket", Celeste survives being shot at because the titular locket protects her from the bullet.
  • Playing a Tree: In most episodes Dennis is cast as an inanimate object, reindeer, or similar in an ultimately futile attempt to limit how much damage he can do.
  • Racist Grandma: The question of whether Chris's elderly father, who was to appear in the week's play, is one of these apparently came up during a "crisis meeting" of the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: "A Trial to Watch" shows the scene of Nigel's death from multiple viewpoints (as well as in different locations, due to the stage hands bringing on the wrong set halves for the flashbacks).
  • Reaching Between the Lines: In "The Pilot (not the pilot)", during the Split-Screen Phone Call.
  • Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: Dennis does this numerous times, carrying on from previous Cornley productions, such as in "A Trial to Watch" and when he loudly parrots everything Chris yells at him in "The Lodge".
    Dennis: (at the end of "A Trial to Watch") They kiss. Roll credits.
    • Trevor and the backstage crew are seemingly so used to this that they expect it and respond accordingly - when Vanessa's character says "out like a light" (asleep) they take this as the cue to black out the set.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Robert gives one to the audience in "The Spirit of Christmas", ranting about how often they complain to the BBC about the CPDS' work. Or, more specifically, his own conduct.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: During a scene in "The Lodge", the message "EXPECT MORE BODIES" is supposed to appear on a window. Trevor instead writes "EXPECT MORE BOIDES", which Chris reads aloud exactly as spelt.
  • Running Gag: Several.
    • Different things happen in each episode to prevent Jonathan playing his role; from being trapped in a chimney or locked behind a door to unable to fit onto a set that's far too small.
    • In "The Spirit of Christmas"...
      • The Christmas tree decorations and Christmas dinner props get mixed up. Initially Lawrence (Max) is chopping ornaments for dinner, then they put chicken breasts and sausage links on the tree. Maude (Annie) stirs a bowl of tinsel, and at the end, when Lawrence returns with the missing star for the tree, it's a roasted turkey.
      • Nostle (Jonathan) is trapped in the chimney, so Nistle (Sandra) has to make do without him.
    • In "The Pilot (not the pilot)", the view out the window frequently involves off-stage actors having conversations that directly contradict what the on-stage actors just said. Also Robert, playing Adolf Hitler, keeps repeatedly appearing on set when he's not supposed to be there.
    • In "A Trial to Watch"...
      • The split set getting the wrong halves for flashbacks.
      • Dennis's mixed-up lines coming out as sexual innuendos - "She's my sex life", "I'm going to get jacked off!"
    • In "The Lodge"...
    • In "Harper's Locket"...
      • Pieces breaking off Dennis's horse head whenever anyone tries to pet him.
      • Jonathan being unable to open the doors on set.
      • Chris's Squib going off at the wrong time.
    • In "90 Degrees"...
      • Some of the sets have been built at the wrong angles (see Upside Down Blueprints below), causing objects and people to fly across the room in each scene.
      • Robert and Chris's backstage arguments being heard through the RC dog's speaker as they squabble over who is to voice the dog.
      • The sound effects that are supposed to censor Dennis's speech coming in at the wrong time.
      • Annie not being quick enough to hide the water gun she's using to spray other cast members for scenes where their characters are crying.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Jonathan does this in "A Trial to Watch" when he can't fit onto the too-small courtroom set and the other actors playing the jury won't make way for him, even though they don't have any lines and he does.
  • Shocking Swerve: In-universe as "90 Degrees" ends with Vanessa and Sandra's characters revealing they've been having an affair and playing their supposed spouses. It comes completely out of nowhere and is utterly illogical...which means it fits this show perfectly.
  • The Show Must Go On: Taken to parodical extremes, leading to performances with one performer stuck in a chimney, performances on sets that are an order of magnitude too small, performances where a ceiling fan is trying to decapitate the cast, and performances on sets that are literally upside down.
  • The Show Must Go Wrong: Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • Show Within a Show: As is common for Mischief Theatre. Each episode is the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society putting on a new play.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Dennis plays such a character in "90 Degrees." Predictably, attempts to censor his speech fail.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: In "The Pilot (not the pilot)", Dennis is cast as a telegram machine with no lines yet still manages to prematurely spoil the play's twist for the audience.
  • Soft Glass: Played straight and then subverted in "Harper's Locket". Jonathan, who is unable to open the door between the dining room and the garden, smashes through the window next to it. Later, unable to go through the door at the back of the stage, he attempts this on the window next to it, only to bounce off.
  • Sole Survivor: Subverted in "The Lodge". Alice (Annie) was clearly supposed to be saved by the police (Jonathan) at the last minute from her possessed mother...but Chris locked the door earlier, so the police officer couldn't get inside in time to save her and Vanessa had to follow through with 'stabbing' her. Instead, Jonathan dragged her around as if she were still alive.
  • Sorry to Interrupt: In "The Lodge", Robert's filming a scene (apparently in a restroom at the BBC) where his character performs an occult ritual. A member of cleaning staff walks in and makes a hasty retreat.
  • Sound-Effect Bleep: Dennis's character in "90 Degrees" swears a lot, and some of his dialogue has been censored for TV - unfortunately, with the sound effects usually coming in at the wrong time.
  • Special Effects Failureinvoked: Incredibly frequent. A particularly notable example is Max's fake blood in "A Trial to Watch", which fails to work the first two times and completely covers Chris in blood the third time.
  • Split-Screen Phone Call: Between Corporal Sky (Sandra) and Wing Commander Wycombe (Annie) in "The Pilot (not the pilot)". Played for laughs when they start Reaching Between the Lines, and then when the separator bar falls down.
  • Squib: Chris uses them in "Harper's Locket". They go off prematurely twice, fail to go off when they're supposed to, and then go off unexpectedly afterwards.
  • Stock Footage Failure: invokedIn "Harper's Locket", it shows footage of "Harper" riding up to the house on a horse. When he rides off, later in the scene, the same footage is shown, only it is being played backwards.
  • Talking Animal: Robert attempts to turn Ruffles the dog into one in "90 Degrees", but is repeatedly thwarted.
  • Taking the Bullet: Celeste (Sandra) does this for Harper (Max) in "Harper's Locket".
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: As in other Mischief Theatre productions, Chris and Robert are bitter rivals, sniping at and competing to outshine one another.
    • Chris also gets quite livid with Max and Dennis, though they're too simple-minded and good-natured to take it personally.
  • Terrible Artist: Annie's character in "Harper's Locket" is supposed to be a talented painter. When Annie accidentally ruins the artwork commissioned for the show, she has to hastily put together a replacement, composed of stick figures and a frog (the only thing she knows how to draw.)
  • Third Party Stops Attack: Happens in "Harper's Locket" when a motorised fan comes loose from the ceiling during a dinner party scene and descends towards the table, threatening to decapitate the cast. They're saved when Jonathan steps in from outside and intercepts the fan.
  • Throwing Off the Disability: Dennis's character does this at the end of 90 Degrees, standing up out of his wheelchair and walking away.
  • Title Drop: Invoked in "The Lodge" where Robert will regularly say the title, accompanied by flashing lights and creepy music (until the third repetition where a cheerful fairground tune is accidentally played instead.)
    • "Harper's Locket" has two of these, accompanied by the sound of thunder.
  • Traitor Shot: Possibly unintentional — in "The Pilot (not the pilot)", after Sandra's character explains what words the Germans would use to end a message for codebreaking, "Heil Hitler", she glances meaningfully at the audience for a moment. This is Sandra's Character Tic, however, and might just be ill-timed. (Either way, it doesn't work, due to Dennis spoiling the identity of The Mole earlier.)
  • Treadmill Trauma: The gym scene in "A Trial To Watch" starts with Karl (Dennis) joining Becky (Vanessa) on the treadmills. However, Dennis is unable to start or speed up his own treadmill; his monitor had accidentally been wired to control Vanessa's treadmill. Cue Vanessa being launched into a weight rack as she fails to keep pace.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Despite a seemingly fatal gunshot a quite close range, Treacle the horse manages to survive being shot by Baron Graves.
    • In "90 Degrees", during one of the scenes on the sideways study set, Dennis is knocked out by a briefcase falling on his head, and remains unconscious for the rest of the scene. About one scene later, he's regained consciousness without explanation, and without any visible bruising.note 
  • Unit Confusion: Some sets for "A Trial To Watch" were designed in inches and built in centimeters.
  • The Unreveal: Winston Churchill (Jonathan) tries to dramatically reveal that he's not actually Churchill, but the prosthetic is glued too strongly on his face, so he gives up and declares that he really is Churchill.
  • Upside Down Blueprints: The study set for "90 Degrees" was built on its side due to the builders misinterpreting the play's title on their technical drawings as a building direction. Additionally, the bedroom set was built upside down for a similar reason.
  • Useless Without Cellphones: The official press release announcing the second series quotes Chris saying that he's issued all members of the CPDS with several phones to avoid any further "miscommunication"
  • Visible Boom Micinvoked: This moment in "The Pilot (not the pilot)":
    Annie/Wycombe: Perhaps the place is bugged.
    Chris/Rufus: Hidden microphones? Here? Impossible!
    (a boom mic dips into the frame, nearly hitting Chris)
  • Visual Pun: In "The Lodge", after a noise is dismissed as just a bat, a cricket bat floats by on a string.
  • Vocal Range Exceeded: Belle's (Vanessa) sweet song to Santa starts out alright, until the register gets too high for her, ending in her shrieking through her final verse.
  • Wardrobe Malfunction: The snowman suit gets caught in the Toy Machine's grinder in the middle of Chris' song, thus he must vacate it through the bottom, ending up in only his underwear by the end.
  • Waxing Lyrical: As mentioned above in Gratuitous Foreign Language, In "The Pilot (not the pilot)", Camille (Vanessa) is supposed to say multiple phrases in various different languages. Since, she can not remember those phrases, she just begins saying the lyrics to songs.
  • Wham Line: Every one of the plays tries this at some point...and end up falling flat due to how terrible the set-up and the miscues are.
  • Who's on First?: In "The Lodge", Chris snaps at Dennis for wrongly chiming in with his line of "GET OUT! GET OUT!" one too many times and orders him off the set. Naturally, when it actually is time for him to get back in and say the line, this ensues.

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