Dare To Believe – Britain’s Forgotten Surrealist Comedy Show

 

dare-to-believe

Had Dare to Believe, which ran for two series between 2002 and 2004, been shown on Channel 4 or BBC2, it might well be as fondly remembered and acclaimed as the likes of Snuff Box or The Day Today. As it was, the show was made for the ITV network, and broadcast in the early hours of the morning, seemingly at random. It was, therefore, seen  mostly by insomniacs and people coming home from the pub or clubbing, to whom it probably felt like some sort of fever dream.

Written and directed by Tim de Jongh (aka Tim Scott), the show consisted on oddball sketches, some with ongoing characters and themes, most of which seemed designed more to be unsettlingly weird than funny. Baritone-voiced Patrick Allen would frequently pop up, possibly not knowing what he was doing, and a typical ‘sketch’ might see repetitive images of various household objects flashed on-screen while a voice asked “what’s this?”. The catchphrase, if you want to call it that, was “fly like a mouse, run like a cushion, be the small bookcase”. Quote that to anyone and be prepared for a blank look of incomprehension.

I remember stumbling upon the show one night, wondering what the hell this unfunny exercise in self-indulgence was, and then slowly but surely seeking out more. Given that there was rarely any continuity of time or day for the broadcast, finding an episode was as much by luck or design. I still can’t quite decide if it was actually good or dreadful or perhaps simply existed in some weird place where normal quality controls have long since vanished. But all these years later, I still have it lodged in a dark corner of my mind, while other, more well-known and apparently better shows have long since been forgotten. So it certainly had something

Here are some episodes. Don’t hold your breath waiting for that special edition box set.