Taking The Flak. Image shows from L to R: Rory Wallace (Damian O'Hare), Jane Thomason (Doon Mackichan), David Bradburn (Martin Jarvis), Joyful Sifuri (Kobna Holdbrook-Smith), Margaret Hollis (Joanna Brookes), Harry Chambers (Bruce Mackinnon), Grace Matiko (Lydiah Gitachu). Copyright: BBC.

Taking The Flak

BBC Two comedy drama / sitcom. 7 episodes (1 series) in 2009. Stars Martin Jarvis, Doon Mackichan, Bruce Mackinnon, Joanna Brookes, Damian O'Hare, Lydiah Gitachu, Lucy Chalkley and others.

Press Clippings

The ability to laugh at yourself is a valuable quality; it shows you have a sense of perspective about your place in the world. In an age when The X Factor has encouraged self-delusion to hit epic scales, any evidence that egotism hasn't run entirely rampant is to be welcomed. So the BBC sending itself up - or its foreign news teams, at least - had to be a good thing.

So how did Taking The Flak, set in a fictional African land in uproar, flip the coin and end up as an orgy of patronising self-congratulation rather than a healthy mickey-take? Because Jennie Bond playing the good sport put it on the same smug level as all those Comic Relief spoofs you can't slag off because they're for charidee. As media satires go, Taking The Flak was Taking The P***.

Keith Watson, Metro, 20th August 2009

This corking satire could win an award for Most Scandalously Overlooked Programme. From puncturing reporters' egos to outright mockery of the news, this has been terrific, and the final bulletin from the war-ravaged African nation of Karibu announces the conflict has ended - but Harry and David's own troubles are far from over...

What's On TV, 19th August 2009

Even if the comedy here was always too broad to cut it with the best of satire, the series ends very much as it began - with a gentle burbling of in-jokes and good humour. The BBC's senior foreign correspondent has begun to suffer from such chronic sexual frustration that he is displaying symptoms of dementia. In desperation he rings up Jennie Bond - playing herself - in the hope that they could "do things" together. "I've said it to John Humphrys," she replies, "and I say it to you. NO!" This final episode also represents the triumph of the underdog, as Harry the hapless stringer (Bruce Mackinnon) finally shows a glimmer of talent. At the very least, this was a better class of light entertainment.

David Chater, The Times, 19th August 2009

I have seen several episodes of Taking the Flak, the BBC's satire upon their own foreign correspondents, and it has yet to become embedded in my affections.

The characters are in a world in which grieving relatives and photogenic orphans are at a premium, shots to camera must be accompanied by just the right amount of hand wringing and two minutes on Newsnight fully justifies any and every act of misconduct during filming.

The BBC had enough faith in Taking the Flak to bankroll location shooting in Kenya, and they have been rewarded with a self-assured, amusing and original comedy with more than a whiff of authenticity about it. Plus any show with Doon Mackichan among the cast is, by definition, a very good thing.

However, the characters simply fail to engage, or even surprise. Perhaps we have seen too many television comedies recently about the wacky world of television, populated by jaundiced and manipulative self-serving cynics, to care any more.

Harry Venning, The Stage, 14th August 2009

Taking the Flak - Cameramen and War

It's the penultimate week of Taking the Flak, so here is another exclusive piece of Red Button content. This week we go behind the scenes to meet both the real and fictional Directors of Photography.

Matt Callanan, BBC Comedy, 13th August 2009

This comedy drama that's mercilessly taking the myth out of BBC war reporting is something of a hidden gem. Indeed, we hear that John Simpson, John Sergeant and Martin Bell have actually gone to war themselves over which one of them the wonderful David Bradburn (Martin Jarvis) is based on. Tonight, David throws his fags out the pram when media darling Jeremy Pax - sorry, Jeremy Morrison - is drafted in to report on a ceasefire...

What's On TV, 12th August 2009

Taking the Flak - Animals

Continuing the series of exclusive red button content from Taking the Flak - here's journalist Harry Chambers talking about the perils of reporting when scary animals are looking at you.

Matt Callanan, BBC Comedy, 6th August 2009

Taking the Flak - Strictly Come Tribal Dancing

Here's another slice of red button video from Taking the Flak, plus some more exclusive pictures taken by the crew from the filming in Tanzania.

Matt Callanan, BBC Comedy, 3rd August 2009

The satire that pokes fun at the competitive world of war reporting continues with the BBC's junior stringer, Harry (Bruce Mackinnon), facing his toughest assignment to date: a rendezvous with his girlfriend's fiercely intimidating father. Elsewhere, David (Martin Jarvis), the bumptious chief foreign editor, learns that if he doesn't file an exclusive pronto, he will have to return home to work on the apparently much-maligned breakfast show.

The Telegraph, 22nd July 2009

Now here's a moment of true excitement: there's a funny comedy on the BBC. Like me, I'm sure it's something of a relief to you when you are fortunate enough to witness such a rare event but I was more than impressed with Taking The Flak

Mike Ward, The Daily Express, 12th July 2009