chapter  7
11 Pages

A day at Battle

There is a rich history of comedians sending up re-enactors and commemorative events involving battles. The premise of the British television show The Complete and Utter History of Britain was to humorously represent various incidents from British history using modern media formats (much like the modern Horrible Histories). For the Battle of Hastings, it utilised the structure of a post match interview with a sporting star, with the earnest Terry Jones interviewing an upbeat Michael Palin as Duke William. The sketch concluded with a new take on the arrow in the eye, the moment in the battle that the writers could be confident that most of their audience knew about, especially since this was only a few years after the nine-hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. Indeed, the idea for the series came from a sketch by Palin and Jones in the 1967 series Twice a Fortnight (Wilmut 1980). In that, they re-enacted the battle on the pebble beach at Hastings. Dr Who also drew on this topicality, being involved in the battle in the episode ‘The Time Meddler’ (1965).