Two friends meet up for a pint of beer after work. That’s the story of Mid-Brow’s latest short film, Bad News. You might be thinking it’s not a big deal; these things happen every day. But what is not ordinary at all is that the two friends happen to be newsreaders who keep talking with an intonation and cadence typical of BBC correspondents. They just can’t switch off from work, and their meeting at the bar seems a live report on a TV channel. It has nothing to do with an informal chat between two friends after work.
The award-winning sketch duo, Alex Cooper and Tom Blackwood, wanted to make fun of that BBC-ish tone that every journalist seems to slip into on the air.
The actors have been on the comedy circuit for a while now and have performed regularly at the Edinburgh Fringe for the past couple of years. In fact, they wrote Bad News for the stage and later translated it to the screen. The short film, directed by Alicia MacDonald, soon turned out to be a great success. It appeared at prestigious festivals including Loco Comedy Film Festival and New York City Short Comedy Film Festival 2017.
Watch it now!
The film starts with some breaking news: “One thing becoming evidently clear is that my bus is officially delayed.” We immediately learn that Mark will get to the pub later than expected. In the meantime, David receives permission to order two pints of lager. Then, the two of them start talking about personal problems. Mark’s marriage is in crisis; his wife cannot tolerate the fact that he cannot stop talking like a newscaster.
The tone of Mark and David’s conversation might make you think they talk about the consequences of the Brexit on the UK economy, but it’s nothing of the sort. The issue is much more serious than that. Mark has found out that his wife is cheating on him with a tennis coach. The pub confession stops just because it’s time for the weather forecast. We meet another funny character, weatherman Charlie, who is smoking in the beer garden. He gives us the latest news about “a light fog now building around the smoking area.” The weather report and his clicking lighter are unforgettable.
The short film features all the journalism-related clichés that might come to your mind. You can see on-air mannerisms, the reporters’ nods to the camera, and of course, some unexpected technical problems during the live report.
Now let’s learn some journalism vocabulary that might help you understand the real BBC news, too.