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|Government reviews performance of Blame Academy
26 Oct 2002
The government is reviewing the performance of its first reality TV show, Blame Academy, today after mixed reviews from critics. The programme started on Monday and was intended to run "for the duration" on BBC Four, but its success is already being questioned.
According to the programme's official website, it was designed to allow mistakes made by the government to be blamed on previous Conservative governments "or if all else fails for some junior nobody to take responsibility". Alistair Campbell, an anonymous source describing himself as "close to the government", said at its launch party that the programme was "the perfect solution".
"It's a brilliant idea," he told us in complete confidence while winking excessively. "Every time we screw up we blame it on the Tories anyway, but when we really do have to own up we can do it on BBC Four – that way nobody will see us do it!"
In a pilot earlier this year, the academy's first resident successfully blamed the Tories for the state of the NHS, dodgy exam results and his "poor relationship with that Gordon next door". This time around, though, the person chosen to enter the academy was Estelle Morris.
"I don't think she really got the idea," said government TV critic Douglas Ramsbottom. "After three days she admitted responsibility for everything and said she wasn't doing a good job. That doesn't make good television. I mean where was the nudity, where was the writing on tables, where was the rooftop escape? No wonder the ratings are plummeting."
Labour ministers have also questioned whether the programme is a good idea. "We can't have cabinet ministers going on television and admitting responsibility for their mistakes," said one minister in a pub last night. "It's malicious truths like that that can bring down governments."
Estelle Morris has now been replaced by former Chairman Charles Clarke, who immediately sought to play down his reputation as a bruiser. "I ain't no friggin bruiser," he protested after head butting a camera man, kicking the sound man in the groin and threatening the producer with a microphone stand. "I don't know where you got that idea from. And you can blame that one on the Tories too," he added, beating a makeup artist with a broom.
Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell is now considering whether to pull the programme.