The Bird Flu Diaries
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2006
The nightmare has become a reality. Bird flu has come to Britain and the clock is ticking for the survival of its population.
However, as always in a crisis, Mr Blair has a media-friendly solution to boost the morale of his doubting public he'll stage a contest! And the prize? A space in his nuclear bunker, a bird flu-free zone, sure to provide a dream sanctuary for the winning entrant.
All the great British public must do to win this coveted prize is submit a video diary, stating their case for the space.
The Bird Flu Diaries is based on the convoluted but almost plausible premise that bird flu has mutated and hit the UK, and there's one spot left in Tony Blair's bunker. To decide who gets it, members of the public have to make their own video diary detailing why it should be them.
The show dips in and out of the lives of three pairs of people: the gothic death-worshippers, the student roommates, and the hippy girls. It's all tied together by a wonderful news anchor pastiche, that stylistically has echoes of Chris Morris' s The Day Today, but is a little more silly.
The sketches vary, with some working better than others. The two roommates are particularly strong, especially with the marvelous bile-filled rants about Jamie Oliver and other media figures. The Goths provide a more surreal humour, which doesn't work as well but gets some great laughs.
Not every sketch is great, and the fairly limited pool of characters can lead to repetition and predictability. A video screen is used to great effect, showing the diary submissions and the news segments.
The real genius of the show comes in how the sketches all dovetail together at the end. We get hint,s references, and callbacks throughout the show reminding us that these events are all happening in the same fictional universe, but it's not until the end you realise the true structural brilliance of the intertwined stories. It's the quality of the show as a whole, rather than simply the sum of its individual sketches, that sets this apart from similar work.