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The Best of Not the 9 O'Clock News (1999)

Rowan Atkinson , Pamela Stephenson , Bill Wilson , Bob Spiers  |  NR |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Rowan Atkinson, Pamela Stephenson, Mel Smith, Griff Rhys Jones, Chris Langham
  • Directors: Bill Wilson, Bob Spiers
  • Writers: Mel Smith, Griff Rhys Jones, Andrew Marshall, Andy Hamilton, Clive Anderson
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: A&E Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: March 28, 2006
  • Run Time: 197 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000CRR37Y
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #200,761 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Best of Not the 9 O'Clock News" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

This two-disc set doesn't collect the best of Not the 9 O'Clock News per se, but, more accurately, eight extremely funny episodes of this 1979 British sketch comedy series that launched the careers of Rowan Atkinson (Blackadder, Mr. Bean), Pamela Stevenson (later wasted on Saturday Night Live), and Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones (Alas Smith & Jones). Between a squashed hedgehog and a dead parrot, comparisons with Monty Python's Flying Circus are inevitable. Not the 9 O'Clock News is more aggressively paced, with a riot of sketches, fun-with-real-video segments, non-sequitur bits, visual gags, and musical spoofs. It was also more topical, so it has perhaps not aged as well as Python. But one doesn't have to be familiar with the British politicians and personalities being pilloried (sorry, Britt Eckland) or the television game and talk shows being spoofed to enjoy the commitment of the performances and the savvy and sometimes savage writing. In the first episode, talk show panelists respond to news that Russian bombs are 4 ½ minutes from England, prompting a leftist to decry "the appalling record of this conservative government... that three million people will die unemployed." The silly bits are the most lasting, including footage of a golf tournament repurposed as the "Pro Am Silly Pants Tournament" and Atkinson and Smith as an urbane gorilla and his trainer ("He was completely wild." "Wild? I was absolutely livid"). This marks 9 O'Clock's DVD debut, and that's good news for British comedy fans. --Donald Liebenson

Product Description

Attention, comedy fans: NOT THE NINE O'CLOCK NEWS is the real thing. This is scathing, no-holds-barred Brit humor at its best. Rapid-fire skits starring Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) are as politically incorrect as they are side-bustingly funny, sparing no one as they take on the British Royal Family, Margaret Thatcher, Scotland Yard, country music, Christianity, devil worship, punk rock and bathroom etiquette. NOT THE NINE O'CLOCK NEWS is so irreverent that when the pilot was due to air in April 1979, the BBC cancelled it due to its incendiary political content. When at last it aired, the greatest comedy group to hit England since Monty Python's Flying Circus stormed the airwaves and revolutionized British and American television alike. Discover the show that set the standard for the anarchic cynicism that defined the alternative comedy of the 80's.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Alternative Car Park November 12, 2006
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"Not The 9 O'clock News" took the baton from "Monty Python's Flying Circus" in the world of British comedy in the early 1980s. Like "Python," the show features fast paced sketch comedy intermixed with real footage and musical numbers, and blends them into an amalgam that is sometimes very original, yet occasionally noticeably derivative of earlier work (notably of "Python" and Peter Cook.) Of the four principals involved here, Rowan Atkinson, of course, became the standout, and in fact already was even at this early stage. Atkinson excels at quirky roles, and is a wonderfully visual performer. His portrayal of the performance artist mime "Alternative Car Park" is the funniest single sketch of the series by far.

I find the quality of the segments to vary dramatically. I recall watching this many years ago and thinking it was hilarious: while I still think most of it is funny, it has not aged as well as "Python," largely because so much of the humor revolves around then-current governmental affairs in England. I generally found most of the musical numbers to be repetitive, with the only true standout being the song "Nice Video, Shame About The Song" by "Lufthansa Terminal," in a hilarious satire of early 1980s art-videos. The trucking sketch, while not especially creative musically, opened up Pandora's box of complaints with the squished hedgehog gag (giving rise to the hilarious "Hedgehogs: An Apology," and "We Want to Know Who Stuffs Hedgehogs.")

Students of Atkinson can find traces of the future Mr. Bean in some of the sketches, particularly where he orders a bathroom from an architect with a rather excessive number of toilets. Stock footage is liberally used (generally with added sound effects) in what is an equivalent linking device as Terry Gilliam's animation in "Python.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What Python Hath Wraught? April 4, 2006
It's really thrilling to see this out on DVD stateside, even though if you don't recall much of the late 1970s/early 1980s and aren't up on government history in the UK during the time (and if not, a few hours with the Young Ones will help), you might be at a bit of a loss on certain parts. If you are still moping over Princess Di being in the past tense namewise, you might be squeamish over parts of this as she still had that new Windsor smell at the time these were made.

Okay, caveats aside, the rapid fire satire sketch comedy of the Pythons is prominent here, probably due in large part to Rowan Atkinson's work with the Pythons on the Amnesty International concerts during this time period (this is before Mr. Bean/Black Adder/Thin Blue Line), but Stephenson, Rhys-Jones and Smith (second only to John Tuturro on the humor scale in the blatant Marx Bros. ripoff (albeit still funny as H---) _Brain Donors_) are just as great in this double-disc set.

Highlights? Mel Smith and Rowan Atkinson's parody of the debates over the brouhaha surrounding Life of Brian at the time ("Jesus Christ is John Cleese right down to the same initials!"), the Oi! band parody song about Moseley with Mel Smith singing, Atkinson's ska parody "I Like Bouncing," the cast take on ABBA, footage of the Pope edited to where it looks like he's singing "Jungle Rock," the Royals entering a room to "In the Mood" as fanfare music, and the list goes on and on.

Best line: "Nurse, I can't feel my legs." "Yes, sorry we had to amputate your arms."

This DVD set also has cameo appearances by Amnesty alum Chris Langham of the "How to Speak Japanese in Three Steps" fame, so that's always nice to see.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stephenson + Atkinson = Hilarity March 8, 2006
I watched "Not the 9 O'Clock News" on PBS about 25 years ago.

I remember it as being absolutely hilarious.

Rowan Atkinson's fans will not be disappointed with this DVD. His genius is as well displayed here as it is in "Mr. Bean" and "Black Adder."

Not many people will remember Pamela Stephenson from her one-season stint on "Saturday Night Live" in 1986 because she was practically ignored in favor of Billy Crystal, Martin Short, and Christopher Guest. Watching her on this disk will make you realize how funny she can be and wonder what she could've done on "Saturday Night Live" if she had been used more often.

One final note: There was an American version of this show called "Not Necessarily the News" that ran for several seasons on HBO.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful DVD! June 3, 2009
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I admit I am a little puzzled by the negative reviews. For one, like Monty Python (as others have noted) "Not the 9 o'Clock News" was originally a 30 minute broadcast featuring quick sketches. As I watched this DVD I enjoyed the vast majority of the offerings. Some skits last but a few seconds, others are longer. I did not detect any evidence of a sketch being edited of content.

Second, I agree that some of the references are dated, such as those referring to then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and US President Ronald Reagan.

I admit, I knew very little of Rowan Atkinson. I have never seen his "Mr. Bean" shows, although I did enjoy him in the Blackadder series. He is very funny in this 2-disc DVD, as are his co-stars. Indeed, these people appear in some many disguises that I have a hard time telling whom is whom.

Last note: I have a two-cassette version of The Best of Not the 9 O'Clock News. I have enjoyed listening to it for years, and I am delighted that I am now able to see the skits (indeed, some of the audio skits did not make sense since you could not see what the audience was viewing).

If you are a fan of British humor, you will enjoy this DVD.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Really Funny Stuff!!!
There are many Brit TV comedies for sale, all trying to compare themselves with Monty Python. I've ordered a few, and while some are funny in spots, most don't measure up. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Willie Wylie Walker
5.0 out of 5 stars Sheer Hysterical Genius
Not the 9 O'Clock News aired on the BBC between 1979 and 1982, producing 27 episodes. Poking fun at, well, pretty much everything - politics, music, art, the royal family,... Read more
Published 11 months ago by A. Silverstone
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it
This show cracks me up every time I watch it. I am just sad I can't find more! Every part of the video is great!
Published 18 months ago by Kris
5.0 out of 5 stars not the none o'clock news
this dvd set was great value for money, and sis a must for all British comedy fans, as it was the series that paved the way for the young ones, Little Britain and Mrs Browns Boys.
Published 20 months ago by Mongo Slade
5.0 out of 5 stars not the 9 o'clok news
Loved it when it was on tv and its still very funny. This is a good selection of some of the best scenes.
Published on October 15, 2011 by Wayne Foley
5.0 out of 5 stars not the 9 o'clock new but the funniest dvd set i own
if you like to laugh, lived thru the 80's and have a functioning brain stem this is the one for you
Published on May 3, 2011 by jalyjones
4.0 out of 5 stars funny shows
I got this to go with my Rowan Atkinson collection. He is very funny..has given me alot of laughs. But I gave this a four because some of it I just didn't like. Read more
Published on February 22, 2010 by elflady
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious!
Great Britain's version of Saturday Night Live. Really funny, good quality video and audio.
Published on July 4, 2009 by Mrs. Entity
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I've been a fan of Rowan Atkinson for a long time, and I had heard about this show. I was very pleased when I learnt it was available, even in its abbreviated form, but the... Read more
Published on March 19, 2009 by Paul Chapman
2.0 out of 5 stars Just clips?
The content is funny, but it's incomplete. The snips are too short and you can tell there's more. I'm disappointed.
Published on May 2, 2008 by Mark Bundy
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