A Cynic is a Realist is a satirical television program broadcast in Georgeland on the Georgeland Broadcasting Corporation. Its first run of 13 episodes lasted from June 17, 2004 and ran until September 9. The second series began on May 19, 2005 and broadcast its final show on August 11. A Christmas special aired in December 2005. The third series aired from March to July 2006. Series 4 began airing in October 2006, and, after a break of two months, resumed for a second half in January 2007. A fifth series began airing in July 2007 and will finish with a Christmas special in December. A sixth series has currently been commissioned and will begin airing in May 2008.
The first series starred Dale Parris, Elizabeth Sharkey, Joanne Gibbons, Roger Hancock and David Winston. For the second and subsequent series, this cast was joined by Grant Madison and Ed Owens. Joanne Gibbons did not appear in the fourth series, and will not appear in the fifth. In Series 4, Julia Goddard played some roles, but was not a regular performer.
Goddard did not participate in the fifth series, and David Winston had fewer roles due to his commitment to another GBC program, That's Something Else!. Julia Connolly joined the cast full-time and played Zoe Parker and Condoleezza Rice in the new series, as well as other roles.
The show in some respects resembles the UK series Dead Ringers, and indeed most of the cast are impressionists. The show referred to this in Episode 13 of the 2004 series, in which a "Dead Ringers" sketch was shown in which the cast looked and sounded absolutely nothing like their targets.
The series concentrates on celebrities and political figures, mostly in Georgeland. A few international celebrities and politicians have made 'appearances', including George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Michael Jackson and O.J. Simpson.
The title of the series refers to a famous quote by former Conservative minister Roy Sheedle, who said A cynic is a realist, a conservative is a thinker and a socialist is an idiot in response to claims he was cynical.
Sketches and Characters
- Campbell Rhodes is portrayed (by Hancock) as a Machiavellian, egotistical, power crazed and paranoid eccentric. In one sketch, Rhodes' secretary discovers him camped out under his desk, wearing camoflage and holding a gun. In another, Rhodes is shown as Willy Wonka, guiding a small boy through the Houses of Parliament. Rhodes is somewhat of a common target of the show. In a sketch in 2005, Rhodes was shown as Gollum, not wanting to give up his 'precious', which was his seat in the House of Commons. Another famous sketch showed Rhodes talking to the Cabinet, which was revealed to consist entirely of Action Figures. Rhodes did all the voices and all the Cabinet agreed with him on everything. From time to time, Hancock's Rhodes answers questions using his 'Minister for Me', which is a hand puppet. Since leaving office, Rhodes has been portrayed as a pathetic beggar, appearing in the final sketch of the final episode tearfully pleading with voters to sponsor him in a bid for the Presidency while drinking from a bottle in a paper bag.
In episode 1 of series 3, aired on March 4, 2006, Rhodes was shown 'via satellite from New York', though in actual fact he was sitting on a Caribbean beach with a cocktail. When asked about the Iranian nuclear program, he complained "Oh, don't make me work! I earned this job!".
Rhodes made a second appearance in series 3, in the episode aired on May 13. In this, he was seen as Prime Minister again, cheerfully barking orders and being adored by his own backbench, who shower him with roses after a Commons speech. Sadly, the incident is all a dream, and he wakes up next to his wife, in homage to the famous scene in Newhart.
Rhodes himself made a cameo appearance on the January 12, 2007 edition of the show, where he interrupted a sketch to poke fun at impressionist Hancock. The 'character' of Rhodes was in the middle of a speech to the United Nations, wearing a Hawaiian shirt and sunglasses, and mostly focusing on showing his holiday slides. Halfway through the sketch, there was a shout of dissent and the real Rhodes entered, dressed identically, and called Hancock a 'doofus' and a 'clown', and cruelly asked if he could do an impression of someone with talent. Hancock then broke character and stormed out, whereupon Rhodes himself continued the slide show: "...and this is me with some bloke I met in Tokyo..."
Since October 2007, when Rhodes announced he was running for President, Hancock's interpretation of Rhodes has shifted towards satirising Bill Clinton. Clinton on the show is also portrayed by Hancock, and the two characters have begun making interchangable appearances.
- Zoë Parker, played by Joanne Gibbons, is satirized as a pot-smoking, beer-swilling sexual predator. This is an exaggeration of Parker's self-confessed lifestyle when attending university. Parker on the show is also foul-mouthed and bitchy. In one sketch from the 2004 series, Parker addressed the United Nations and calls them a 'punch of nancy-boy pussies', then proceeds to produce a submachine gun and open fire. In another sketch, in 2005, Parker was shown as Eliza Doolittle, attempting to learn culture and sophistication from Keith Briggs.
Since becoming Prime Minister, Parker's depiction has not significantly altered. In the final show of 2005 she was shown to answer questions in the House of Commons by firing a tommy gun into the opposition ranks. The gun-toting Parker image has caught on in the mainstream media, to the extent that on August 17, 2005, one opposition MP in the House dared Parker to produce a weapon. In the 2005 Christmas special, Parker shot Santa Claus (Richardson) and stole his presents, before giving one of them, labelled 'Presidency' to Campbell Rhodes.
The role of Zoe Parker was initially played by Joanne Gibbons, who left the show after the third series. Consequently, the character has not yet re-appeared, despite her national prominence. Instead, a "Spokesman for the Prime Minister", played by Grant Madison, has given regular press conferences, usually on a topical subject, at which he answers questions in a surly, vindictive and generally unhelpful manner. The show's producers have declared that the Parker character returned late in season 4. portrayed by actress and comedienne Julia Connolly, who has impersonated Parker before as part of her stand-up act.
Parker's 2007 election loss saw the character appear less on the show. She has only appeared twice since the election - once in a sketch that depicted her trying to escape a large number of voters who shouted Conservative slogans at her, and once at a Rhodes press conference in which Bill Clinton molests her and (happily) recieved Parker's knee to his groin.
- Sam Richardson was in 2004 depicted as Jabba the Hutt, but this portrayal (by Parris) was seen as offensive to Richardson's weight problem. In the 2005 series, Richardson, still played by Parris, is a blustering American general obsessed with 'security' and 'killing those damn commies'. A skit in Episode 3 of the new series showed a mild-mannered Luke Macauley discussing 'the terrorists' with a deranged Richardson in a parody of a scene from Doctor Strangelove. Later that same episode, Richardson rode a nuclear bomb in a parody of the famous scene from the same movie.
Following Richardson's sudden death in April 2006, the show's producers announced the 'character' of Richardson would be discontinued as a mark of respect.
- Luke Macaulay was in the first two series shown as a mild-mannered, level-headed adviser to Richardson who would talk him back from his extremist views. As leader, he made his first appearance in the May 13 edition, describing his 'vision' for the Tories. To move the Tories away from bluff, crass, traditional conservatism, Macaulay proposed a Communist uprising, eventually standing to his feet, speaking in a thick Russian accent to the tune of The Red Flag playing in the background. Macaulay was played by Hancock in the first two series, but Ed Owens has taken over the part for series 3.
In Series 3 and 4, Macaulay's depiction has altered to a rather harried, overworked 'fusspot', constantly playing the 'straight man' to the collection of oddballs that make up the Tory Party. In one memorable sketch from the fourth series, Macaulay presided over a meeting of the Shadow Cabinet which included a clown, a man in drag, a robot, a strange, bug-eyed alien and a vampire.
Since becomign Prime Minister, Macaulay's character has continued in a similar vein as a mild-mannered leader attempting to control a vast array of increasingly bizarre Ministers. The "first Cabinet meeting" sketch aired in July 2007 saw Macaulay as Prime Minister presiding over a Cabinet which included several Nazis, a Klansman, Emma Chiltern, David Beckham, George W. Bush and a con man playing 'three card Monty'.
- Xavier McLaren, played by Hancock, is shown as an almost supernaturally dull figure with enormous glasses, so big in one sketch they cannot fit through doors. In another sketch, a speech by McLaren puts the entire audience into a deep sleep, and one audience member awakes, 200 years later, to discover McLaren's skeleton is still speaking. The McLaren character has not appeared in the 5th series.
- Andrea Perkins has made three appearances since her announcement she was running to be Liberal Democrat leader. In the first, Perkins appeared as a believe-nothing pacifist, who agreed with everything everybody said and went into spasm when conflict broke out. In the second, Perkins was shown as Wonder Woman, and Zoë Parker as Supergirl, both using super powers to fight over the leadership, before resorting to throwing mud at one another (literally). The final appearance, after Parker won the leadership, was merely a twenty-second clip of Perkins sharpening a knife on a grindstone muttering to herself. Perkins is played by Elizabeth Sharkey. Perkins has appeared twice as a Presidential candidate - the first time being totally overshadowed and constantly interrupted by Rhodes; the second time being sexually molested by Bill Clinton.
- Nick Sheridan is a frequent target, appearing in more episodes than any other. Sheridan is played by Hancock and alternates between being a Gestapo officer and a televangelist. In either guise, Sheridan rattles off a list of his latest outrages before, usually, being beaten up. Sheridan is performed by David Winston.
- Keith Briggs appears as a cultured urbanite with an intellectually snobbish attitude, in one sketch deriding other characters for being 'too mainstream'.
- President Charlotte Lang has appeared in only threeepisodes; two in 2005 and one in 2007. In the first, a brief sketch was shown in which Rhodes entered Lang's office, bowing sycophantically, to find Lang is completely invisible. This satirises President Lang's complete lack of media profile. Lang's voice was provided by Elizabeth Sharkey. The second appearance was longer, and involved Lang swearing-in Zoe Parker as Prime Minister - 'swearing in' meaning most of Parker's dialogue was obscene. Sharkey reprised the role for that appearance. Lang's third appearance was recieving Macaulay as Prime Minister but having to deal with a number of monkeys that accompanied Macaulay into the meeting.
- Michael Elderton, played by Parris, is depicted as an almost supernaturally dull figure who people keep mistaking for John Major.
- George W. Bush has made several appearances, almost always by means of a 'televised address'. These addresses become increasingly silly as Bush begins to lose interest and starts to ramble wildly off-topic. He is portrayed, as he often is in the media, as dim-witted and blundering, but this aspect of his character is more subdued than in other media. Bush is played by Nick Hancock.
- Julia Moffatt's clipped, BBC English accent is parodied by Elizabeth Sharkey. Moffatt's character reads the news in a sensual style, often pausing to flirt with the camera or the rest of the news team. In one 2006 sketch, the character read the news naked (though no nudity was shown).
- Jim Cryer, played by Dale Parris, occasionally interrupts sketches to deliver a very predictable and unfunny one-liner, always to complete silence from the audience and cast. He then shuffles off sheepishly, and the sketch continues.
- Paris Hilton only ever appears as a cardboard cut-out. One memorable sketch showed a clip from the movie House of Wax, featuring Hilton's cut-out, a reference to her derided acting talent.
- Mel Gibson and Russell Crowe are combined into one character, Russell Gibson, an actor with a psychotic, Norman Bates-like personality and tendency to fly into horrible rages. In one sketch, the character trashes the studio, including tearing down the set and knocking over cameras. The character is also used to make fun of Australia, by means of Gibson's outrageous accent and rude, obnoxious behaviour. The Russell Gibson character is played by Ed Owens.