Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The series was created by satirist Chris Morris, and written by, amongst others, Morris, David Quantick, Peter Baynham, Arthur Mathews and Graham Linehan. It was conceived as a sequel to Morris's earlier spoof news programmes On The Hour and The Day Today, and satirised the media's portrayal of various social ills.
Original 1997 series
Brass Eye aroused considerable controversy when it was first broadcast, primarily because prominent public figures were fooled into pledging onscreen support for fictional, and often plainly absurd, charities and causes. David Amess, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Southend West, was fooled into filming an elaborate video warning against the dangers of a fictional Eastern European drug called Cake, and went as far as to ask a question about it in Parliament . The bright-yellow cake-sized pill which many featured celebrities held as they talked purportedly affected an area of the brain called Shatner's Bassoon.
Other episodes dealt with the topics of science, animals, and infamously, sex. In one scene of the "Sex" episode, Morris posed as a talk-show host who took a starkly discriminatory attitude in favour of those with "Good AIDS" (e.g. from a contaminated blood transfusion) over those with "Bad AIDS" (caught through sexual activity).
The screening of the 1997 series was postponed for nearly six months as it made comic reference to Myra Hindley, who was back in the news at the time after her portrait was vandalised in the Royal Academy exhibition Sensation .
Michael Grade, then chief executive of Channel 4, repeatedly intervened to demand edits to episodes of Brass Eye, and rescheduled some shows for sensitivity. This interference outraged Morris, who responded by inserting into one episode a subliminal message stating, "Grade is a cunt".  As another insult to Grade, Morris supposedly wrote to Nelson Mandela telling him that Grade campaigned for him to be kept in prison, and protested upon his release. He also wrote to musician Paul Simon, claiming that Grade always considered Art Garfunkel the more talented of the duo.
2001 paedophilia special
Celebrities including Gary Lineker and Phil Collins appeared in videotaped interviews, in which they endorsed a spoof charity "Nonce Sense" ("nonce" is a common British slang term for paedophile). Richard Blackwood , Philippa Forrester, and ITN reporter Nicholas Owen amongst others were tricked into explaining the details of "HOECS" (pronounced "hoax") computer games, which online paedophiles were supposed to be using to abuse children via the Internet. These fairly simple plays on words were opaque enough that none of the guest celebrities understood that they were being lampooned until the show was aired, in spite of what often seems to the viewer like plainly absurd subject matter. The Capitol Radio DJ Neil "Dr" Foxx, for example, informed viewers that "paedophiles have more genes in common with crabs than they do with you and me", before qualifying his remarks with "Now that is scientific fact - there's no real evidence for it - but it is scientific fact". Viewers were also told that paedophiles were using "an area of Internet the size of Ireland", and computer keyboards which emit noxious fumes, to abuse children.
In one segment, the studio is "invaded" by members of a fictional paedophilia advocacy organization called MILIT-PEDE and the programme appears to suffer a short technical disturbance. When the show returns, presenter Chris Morris confronts a supposed spokesman, Gerard Chote (played by Simon Pegg) who has been captured and placed in a pillory, and asks him whether he wants to have sex with his six-year-old son. Hesitantly, the spokesman looks at the boy and refuses, explaining, "I don't fancy him", which then drives Morris to further indignation. Morris later claimed that the child actor was not present during filming, and was incorporated digitally in post-production, but this scene was one of the key causes of the media backlash which followed its first broadcast.
Around 2000 complaints (and approximately 3000 calls of support) were received regarding the show, and several politicians hastily spoke out against Morris, although David Blunkett, Tessa Jowell and Beverley Hughes all later admitted that they had not seen the programme. There was also a vociferous tabloid campaign against Morris, who refused to discuss the issue. The episode went on to win a Broadcast magazine award in 2002 and the complete series, including the 2001 special, was released as a bestselling DVD later that year.
The show caused a furore among sections of the British tabloid press, with the Daily Mail leading the fray. Some have pointed out the irony of the fact that The Daily Star printed an article decrying Morris and the show next to a piece about the then 15-year-old singer Charlotte Church's breasts under the headline "She's a big girl now" . Defenders of the show argued that its satire of the media's hysteria and hypocrisy on the subject of paedophilia was vindicated by the ensuing moral panic.
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