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Disgusting Bliss: The Brass Eye of Chris Morris

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The Sun newspaper asked if Chris Morris's July 2001 Brass Eye Special on paedophilia was 'the sickest TV ever?' It was certainly the most controversial, though Morris's uncompromising style of comedy meant he was rarely far from trouble. Morris first came to national prominence at the heart of a group of virtually unknown comedians which included Armando Iannucci, Patrick Marber, Stewart Lee and Richard Herring, and Steve Coogan. Disgusting Bliss follows them from their 1991 news satire On the Hour, later reinvented as the equally successful The Day Today, and examines the mysterious, anarchic figure of Morris, whose total avoidance of celebrity left a gap filled by a kind of mythology, while the fury of his work polarised opinion and prompted government ministers to threaten to ban him. Drawing on exclusive new interviews and original research, Disgusting Bliss paints a compelling portrait of Chris Morris from childhood to the height of the storm he created in taking on the media industry in which he worked.

288 pages, Paperback

First published July 6, 2009

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Lucian Randall

8 books1 follower

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5 stars
76 (14%)
4 stars
236 (45%)
3 stars
160 (31%)
2 stars
32 (6%)
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12 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 37 reviews
Profile Image for Mark Love.
96 reviews8 followers
August 24, 2013
As a long time Chris Morris fan (On The Hour, Day Today, Brass Eye, etc) I would have bought and digested this book regardless, so thankfully it was actually quite good - well researched, but not brilliantly written. Morris himself is absent from the book, but he unusually consented for others to talk openly.

Lucian Randall provides a roughly chronological walk through Morris' various projects and personas, and the difficult and sometime dangerous work that went on to bring them to screen (trying to buy drugs with ridiculous names from west london street dealers; or walking around Balham in a top hat whilst inhaling helium having alerted locals that a strangely dressed paedophile was in their neighbourhood at the height of the News of the World hysteria).

Definitely one for fans only.
Author 39 books92 followers
September 30, 2010
I'm a Chris Morris obsessive, so I would have picked up this book even if it was written by me. This is about as close as any of us will ever get learning about Morris. Randall has done an admirable job of collating a wealth of information taken from interviews, newspapers and just about anywhere else.

It's not written perfectly, but the power of Morris does come through. If you like Morris half as much as I do, you should pick this up.
Profile Image for Paul.
228 reviews11 followers
February 6, 2019
Fascinating. Not so much a biography of Chris Morris as an overview of the team of comedians and writers who made The Day Today, Brass Eye and much more -- all of whom went on to become very successful in their own right.

As far as Chris Morris is concerned, what comes across is a picture of someone who is generous, fiercely intelligent and obsessively professional. We need more people like this.
Profile Image for Mark Barrett.
134 reviews2 followers
March 20, 2019
A middle-class boy, who has all of the head-starts and opportunities which that brings, grows up to use his position to rail against the very system that helped to make him.
Sorry, but this doesn’t resonate with council estate, working-class me.

Not just that, though. Randall never truly gets anywhere near telling us anything original or insightful about Chris Morris. He cites one interview near the start where Morris doesn’t reveal anything about himself, but doesn’t stop Randall from writing the book. Other than that, it’s a series of anecdotes, suppositions and reporting which does nothing to get under the skin or into the character of the main subject himself.

One good thing: it got me watching old reruns of Brasseye which I enjoyed.
Profile Image for Jack.
457 reviews48 followers
September 8, 2020
Not really worth having been written as biographies go -- can't say I learned much interesting about Chris Morris, though supposedly the great bit in Brass Eye where he calls a man a series of bizarre fake insults for 'paedo' is actually with a self-confessed small bean regarder. Weird. Casual read got me listening to some Blue Jam on youtube though.
Profile Image for Ross Maclean.
142 reviews8 followers
April 18, 2021
A good overview and insight into the working practices of Chris Morris. Of course it misses direct input from the man himself but that’s part of the charm of the jigsaw being assembled in spite of the missing pieces. It rushes a bit too carelessly towards its conclusion and it would have been nice to hear more about the narrative work (My Wrongs #8245-8249 & 117 and Nathan Barley are both given short shrift and the book was written before the release of Four Lions, so that’s at least understandable). Left me with a renewed vigour to revisit the material, which is never a bad thing.
Profile Image for Neil.
97 reviews1 follower
February 23, 2014
Firstly, it's all we have bar a few historical newspaper interviews, but anything on Chris Morris is welcome and this bio is very welcome.
As with most biographies of subjects still currently producing work there is bound to be a (sort of) rushed feel towards the end, finishing straight after the Brass Eye Special only hinting in passing at the majesty of Nathan Barley and Four Lions.
So, over to you Mr Randall, time for an updated edition I think.
Profile Image for Kealan O'ver.
361 reviews2 followers
November 5, 2014
Probably about as close as a tell-all biography of Chris Morris that one is likely to get which isn't saying all that much. Reads pretty well and the only place I've seen that has given me some amount of back story behind Brasseye but for some reason, despite having been written in 2010 it finishes with the Brasseye 2001 Special with barely a paragraph for each of the things he's done since then.
Profile Image for Jordan Phizacklea-Cullen.
309 reviews2 followers
September 13, 2018
Despite suffering from Morris (unsurprisingly) declining to be interviewed at length and glossing almost entirely over 'Nathan Barley', this meticulously researched study of one of the UK's premier satirists has contributions from all the major and minor players and suggests that the man may just be one of those true one-offs, leaving you eager for his next project.
Profile Image for Paul Dargan.
1 review8 followers
March 10, 2018
Fist-headed Man Destroys Church...

Very well put together review of the actual genius which is Christopher Morris. Interesting, entertaining, informative. Excellent work.

I was facted until I jolly well farted!
Profile Image for Lee Threlkeld.
34 reviews1 follower
October 19, 2017
Disappointing, but what did I really expect. The material is all that matters. Horse carnage.x
Profile Image for Kahn.
513 reviews3 followers
March 24, 2022
There is always a problem writing about someone if you can't get near to them.
If you're lucky, the pre-existing material might be so bountiful that your research is a delight and the resulting tome a veritable treasure trove of facts and interesting insight.
Or, you end up with this book.
Now, to be fair, Lucian Randall is upfront from the off about the fact Chris Morris said those around him could be spoken to but he wouldn't bother himself to speak.
While this serves to pad the enigma that is one of this country's most famous and yet least known satirists, it does a massive disservice to those keen to know more about the work and the man behind it.
What doesn't help is that Randall can't write.
No, that's not true.
Can't write well.
Early on we have a sentence that, no matter how many runs you have at it, simply doesn't make sense.
Add to that basic factual errors (it's a TV programme, Lucian, just look it up) and pure conjecture passed off as truth and you have what is, at best, a well-meaning if half-arsed bit of fan literature.
Of course, this being centred on Morris, we can't rule out the possibility that the book itself is another prank being played on the world. That spinning around his own mystique, Morris has taken a bawdy swipe at the celebrity biography.
It would certainly explain the errors.
It would also explain the Observer's quote "Impeccably researched and fluently written" - that or the Observer's reviewer didn't actually read the book.
If this is a genuine book, then it's a delightful waste of paper.
If it's another piece of Morris wotnotery, then it's a great idea that fails on several levels. And is still a waste of paper.
Profile Image for Matthew Ogborn.
304 reviews3 followers
December 27, 2020
If you are looking for a series of revelatory insights about how iconic comedy is made, then this book might not be for you nevertheless it works well as a forensic examination of the lengths one person will go to in order to fully realise their vision. Chris Morris, along with Armando Iannucci, have paved the way for generations of brilliant British comedy writers with their relentless comic genius. It has made me reexamine my own approach to comedy writing. Push boundaries, then push even more and something special happens.
Profile Image for D A Calf.
128 reviews11 followers
September 7, 2017
'There is a profoundly emotional resonance to be found in Chris Morris's work, in the way in which he relentlessly mines his material for tangible proof that there need not be any part of human experience that is out of bounds for exploration.'
January 10, 2023
Good insights into the collaborators and, very occasionally, CMs thoughts behind different projects, but at times a bit of a stilted read.
Profile Image for Jan.
200 reviews
July 27, 2015
It took 83 pages before I felt engaged. The first four chapters are frustratingly leaden. I began to wonder what the point of the book was, and why I was reading it. Chris Morris is elusive. There might be a good reason for that. The bare facts of his early days don't really make for an engaging narrative. There is a sense that Randall needed to stretch the material to justify its inclusion. I Googled Randall at one point to check he was real, and not Chris Morris in disguise. Randall has written other biographies, but that's not to say Morris wouldn't take such measures to create a believable ruse.

The book picks up pace when it starts to document Morris' radio career and the shows that generated source material for On The Hour, The Day Today, and Brass Eye. The subject matter is handled better, and is interesting because the focus is on the technicalities of making such ground breaking shows. Morris fades into the background, the mysterious perfectionist who works best in isolation. Randall still manages to make extraordinary events, such as filming with a live tiger, seem flat and dull, however.

I don't know why all of the reviews from the time the book was first published praise it for the fluidity of the prose. I found it awkward to read at times, with clumsy links made more so because Randall clearly thought they were clever.

There's also the odd decision to refer to Morris' brother Tom in a comparative way, as though Morris' experimental satire is directly equivalent to his brother's experimental theatre. Tom Morris is reported as saying he thinks such an idea is tenuous but Randall persists in returning to it. It comes across as Randall inexplicably searching for something to link the two brothers' work without there being any relevance, and makes it seem as though Tom Morris only agreed to talk to Randall on the proviso that his work was also applauded, as if he felt insecure in some way. Randall certainly seems astonished that two men from a "scientific" family (their parents being doctors, and they having studied sciences at university) should both end up working in the arts at the experimental end of the spectrum, as though it's only possible to be one thing or the other, and as though children should always follow in parental footsteps. It's another of the distractions that jars in Randall's writing.

The book works best when it's exploring and analysing Morris' work, when it stops trying to analyse the man himself, and it only really does that effectively in the chapter about the Brass Eye Special.
Profile Image for Graham Clark.
153 reviews2 followers
June 29, 2018
The first few chapters are quite boring - you'll never guess but he went to SCHOOL and grew up in a FAMILY. Later discussions of The Day Today and Brass Eye are much better, but a lot of amounts to describing what anyone could just watch, with a tiny glimpse behind the scenes in places.
Profile Image for Tony.
154 reviews44 followers
December 29, 2014
Chris Morris is an elusive and reclusive figure, who almost never gives interviews, or explains what he was trying to achieve. Oddly, Randall is able to explicitly note this is because Morris doesn't want to be the story himself, whilst simultaneously making this book just that, being unwilling or unable to push it anywhere beyond the dull recitation of mundane minutiae.

The book notes several times that the UK media never adequately engaged suitably with Brass Eye or Morris: “There was a debate to be had, about the show as well as the issues it raised, but the media largely plugged itself straight back into the incoherent rage of the previous summer." But Randall does no better, retreating instead into a procession of often half-remembered trivialities (“In the summer of his third year Morris produced a project on lizards under the general supervision of tutor Roger Avery, who can now recall little detail of either the work or the student who produced it.”)

Chaos Magic Music Money has shown perfectly how to write this sort of book. Now we just need someone to do so for Morris.
Profile Image for Eleanor.
3 reviews4 followers
January 17, 2016
I just feel like I have to say it: every other page reads like a fifty shades knock off... It is very bizarre and an extremely 'fan-boy' account of Chris Morris's life and work. It is now my ultimate guilty pleasure read, I think even if I wasn't using it for my undergrad dissertation I would still have bits highlighted for the absolute insanity of it all, (the part where the Kray twins colleague bursts in with cricket bat would make you wonder the validity of some of the claims but you know what, I don't doubt it.) This is a really nice account though, it seems to dart backwards and forwards quite a bit, but it hardly lacks in topics and covers pretty much everything you'd want to know. Having every chapter ending with you thinking 'oh for god sake' is an art form yet there it is.
If you like your idols enigmatic and your books quirky, get in there. If you want a critical analysis and non-bias account then for god sake buy No Known Cure or read Brett Mills.
I'm embarrassed to admit it, but this was honestly a brilliant holiday read, but as I say, don't expect to use it for much more other than fun insight and guilty giggles.
Profile Image for Godzilla.
634 reviews22 followers
October 28, 2011
Another pick up on a whim, I was certainly no fanboy of Chris Morris, but had enjoyed Brass Eye and his other work.

The book is a strange amalgam of short biography and then almost a "videography" of his work, and how he developed his style and approach.

Unusually for this sort of book, the main subject contributed little to the process, other than allowing the author access to his friends and colleagues.

This is the weak point of the book for me - there is a lots of supposition around his motives and aims, but that's where it remains, there is no definitive answer provided.

The book serves as an excellent means of placing the work within a social and historical context, but ultimately I was expecting more than that from it.
Profile Image for Nic Margett.
95 reviews40 followers
August 2, 2013
I've been a big fan of Chris Morris for quite a while now and this is a pretty interesting account of his life-so-far. I distinctly remember discovering The Day Today when quite young and almost changing channels automatically thinking it was just the news, before realising how strange some of the stories were. I was a little more of an age to appreciate Brass Eye when it appeared and I've been a fan of Morris' ever since.

This book is a good account of British comedy in general. The rise of Chris Morris can be charted alongside such other talented british comedians as Steve Coogan, Armando Iannucci, Lee & Herring, David Schneider, Doon MacKichan, Rebecca Front, Kevin Eldon and Mark Heap to name but a few.
Profile Image for Steve Duffy.
Author 62 books52 followers
July 17, 2014
There's an off-putting whiff of the sixth-form common room about this biography. Unfortunately for Randall, hero-worshipping someone who isn't at all interested in your adoration tends to come across as gauche and awkward, especially if you aren't bringing fresh insights or an original writing style to the party. The total non-compliance of the subject of your biography needn't be an insuperable barrier to writing a good book: see, for instance, John Higgs' exemplary "The KLF: Chaos, Magic and the Band who Burned a Million Pounds". That book is everything this one isn't; an informed engagement with the ideas underpinning its subjects' work, not just a cut-and-paste job interspersed with interviews with mates.
Profile Image for Thomas.
95 reviews5 followers
December 25, 2012
This book provides a backstory to 1990s and 2000s comedy history, showing a dense tapestry of comedy writers invovled throughout Morris' work. Contains a large amount of mundance facts about his childhood

As a bon viveur, Morris should be admired as a multitalented individual who can block out the outside world when necessary to focus on creating work that's pure genius.

He's an inspiring figure, and this book is probably the closest he'll get to a biography, but there's way too much filler and it just felt like a throwaway read. It contained far too many mundane facts to make me want to pick it up again.
14 reviews2 followers
November 26, 2012

A sympathetic insight into the comedy and driving principles of Chris Morris. Some interesting insights into how tv programmes get made and powerful or not the media can be.

If you loved The Day Today or Brass Eye you'll like this. Newcomers to Chris Morris may not be so impressed.
144 reviews8 followers
August 3, 2011
A reminder of just how fundamental Chris Morris and his thinking has been to how I have thought about the world. The Day Today was on when I was fifteen, and comedy and news has been in its shadow ever since. I would hate to meet Chris Morris. He is the ubermensch.
170 reviews9 followers
June 10, 2012

A little overly defensive, and in places relying on anecdote and hyperbole, but overall a fairly detailed and informative chronology of Chris Morris' media work, including some obscure journalism I'd not heard of previously.
Profile Image for Christoff Youngman.
38 reviews1 follower
June 5, 2012
Pretty interesting discussion of CM's life. Although it's hampered by lack of input from the man himself, so it becomes largely a bunch of his mates talking about how great a genius he is. Made me realise how much of his work I'd never even heard of though.
Profile Image for Simon Sweetman.
Author 9 books47 followers
February 7, 2013
A great survey of Morris' work - engaging, particularly given that the subject is hiding in the shadows. It's nice to feel Morris as some sort of spiritual guidance with regard to this book rather than a puppet-master/control-freak.
Profile Image for Reza Mills.
77 reviews
June 18, 2012
Brilliant insight into the mind of comic genius. A must read for Morris fans.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 37 reviews

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