BBC axes War & Peace in favour of Corbyn reshuffle drama

The BBC has announced it is axing its critically-acclaimed adaptation of Tolstoy’s literary classic War and Peace after just one episode, replacing it with a tense political drama based on Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet reshuffle.

The as-yet-untitled and largely unplotted drama is expected to be lavish in scale and Byzantine in its twists and turns with as many as three cast members and potentially no dramatic events whatsoever.

The central character of Count Mikhail Dugher, the hapless Russian aide-de-camp whose visions of frontbench glory are destroyed after he faces the reality of fighting in a bloody civil war, will be played by an unknown actor expected to remain unknown after the drama is screened, with Eddie Redmayne as Diane Abbott, Graham Norton as Hilary Benn and Jeremy Corbyn himself played by a cardboard cut-out of incumbent Doctor Who Peter Capaldi.

‘Nobody’s really interested in the tedious ins and outs of an old-fashioned bunch of out-of-touch dynasts manoeuvring themselves into and out of influence during one of Europe’s most vicious conflicts,’ said a BBC spokeswoman. ‘But we’re showing it anyway as hardly anything happens and the costumes are much cheaper than on War & Peace.’

Idiots’ joy at UN ruling that countries should put their names on their flags

Stupid people have said they are ‘relieved and delighted’ by a UN agreement requiring countries to write their names in big letters on their flags.

The ruling follows years of campaigning spearheaded by England football fans, who have long demonstrated the benefits of spelling out on a flag which country it represents. The decision represents a boost to the fabric dye industry, which will now benefit from the addition of huge blue or black lettering to the cryptic red and white England flag.

‘This is real progress towards making the world easier for idiots to understand,’ said Collins. ‘You can’t expect ordinary people to spend hours learning stuff like red, black and gold means Germany or a lot of blue and white means Greece. And I mean, what’s a red cross got to do with England anyway?’

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, which claims it will need to spend £60m replacing its national flag with bunting in order to accommodate its full name, led a vocal campaign against the move. ‘We never even qualify for the Eurovision Song Contest, let alone the World Cup,’ said the country’s Foreign Minister after the ruling. ‘Nobody cares where we are.’ The French government had threatened to veto the plan on the grounds that it ‘represented an assault on the aesthetic perfection of the elegant flag of France’ but was ultimately persuaded by the cogent arguments put forward by England football fans in favour of the move.

‘Before we invented this method, flags were just a weird jumble of colours and symbols,’ said a shaven-headed campaign spokesman. ‘World Cup matches were a bleedin’ nightmare – we’d get to the stadium and not know who the f***ing hell which bastards we were playing. But now those of us who can read can finally work it out much easier.’

Prior to the UN’s decision it had been almost impossible to agree on suitable football chants to taunt the opposition, the spokesman said. ‘We came up with the idea of writing which country we were on our flags after 80,000 of us once spent a whole sodding match singing ‘you’re a bunch of Arab tossers’, and then it turned out that we’d been playing f***ing Estonia.’

Corbyn, shadow cabinet agree on airstrikes against Parliamentary Labour Party

Embattled Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has struck a last-minute compromise with his Shadow Cabinet that allows him to support UK government airstrikes, but only as long as they are against the Parliamentary Labour Party.

In reaching a deal Mr Corbyn has narrowly avoided a series of damaging resignations from his front bench after his controversial email suggesting he was ‘not entirely persuaded that killing some people would stop some people killing other people’, a view slammed by his colleagues as “utterly insane” and completely at odds with long-established Labour foreign policy.

‘What he said about war being somehow ‘damaging’ and ‘not in everybody’s best interests’ was just the Trotskyist gibberish of a crypto-Communist madman,’ said one frontbencher. ‘Doesn’t he remember that the last time we took the country into an illegal war we won three elections in a row? Something like that anyway. The lesson is, people love war, let’s give them more of it!’

While initial reactions to Mr Corbyn’s email had been furious, however, his colleagues responded well to his attempts to negotiate a fragile party truce. Mr Corbyn telephoned round his colleagues to propose that airstrikes be allowed but just not against the Syrians. ‘Jeremy had come up with actually quite a brilliant compromise, that we could vote for airstrikes but instead of bombing Syria we’re going to take out the other half of the PLP,’ said Corbyn sceptic and Ilford South MP Mike Gapes. ‘Of course by ‘other half’ he means the pro-Corbyn crowd which is the half that’s causing all the trouble. Well worth it.’

Close Corbyn ally Diane Abbott MP was also supportive of the deal. ‘We can either drop bombs on 180,000 Syrian civilians, or save billions of pounds and drop just the one on a meeting of the other half of the Labour party,’ she said. ‘Jeremy’s played a real blinder here. Of course by ‘other half’ he means the anti-Corbyn brigade which is the half that’s causing all the trouble. Can’t wait.’

Shadow Foreign Secretary Hillary Benn was ‘relieved’ at the success of Mr Corbyn’s dialogue with the party. ‘For a moment there it looked like we were going to descend into a long, protracted and messy conflict which would only result in damaging but fruitless attacks against a hardline regime by various groups of extremist rebels who could never agree on anything. What do you mean, sounds like Iraq? Never heard of it.’

Hillary Clinton still favourite to present QI

US presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton remains the overwhelming favourite to win the race to succeed Stephen Fry as presenter of QI, after a sometimes stormy election debate in Chicago last night.

Mrs Clinton appeared on stage alongside her rivals, socialist Bernie Sanders, former Idaho governor Lincoln Chafee, Jack Dee, David Mitchell and Nicholas Parsons. None of the candidates was seen as defeating Mrs Clinton although Mr Sanders delivered some memorable lines and Nicholas Parsons surprised viewers with his principled opposition to air strikes in Syria.

The race is entering its final months and the candidates have begun to distance themselves from the outgoing incumbent, Stephen Fry, whose term comes to an end when he finally reaches series M in 2016. After some initial successes – particularly in the areas of foreign policy, healthcare and interesting facts about how languages develop and the occurence of colourblindness among giraffes – his time in office has begun to run out of steam with increasingly trenchant opposition from hard-line Republicans, the pro-gun lobby, and idiot stalwart Alan Davies.’I just sit here and say really dumb things based on my half-remembered schooling and everybody finds it absolutely hilarious,’ said Donald Trump.

Mrs Clinton has been campaigning hard for almost sixteen months since the official launch of her campaign, although her ambition to sit in the big chair and have all the answers dates back far longer. ‘This is a role I’ve been preparing for my whole life,’ she told an audience of almost 12 million US viewers. ‘As First Lady I spent hours memorising the foibles of sixteenth-century Cambodian monarchs and the anatomical curiosities of various species of pangolin. And I don’t think anybody can deny that I’ve done some incredibly interesting things when I was Secretary of State, as my emails show plainly for all to see. Well, some of them.’

Jeremy Corbyn’s younger brother Ed ‘still waiting for the call’

Ed Corbyn, younger brother of the new Labour leader Jeremy, has told reporters he is ‘sitting by the phone’ in case anything untoward befalls his elder sibling.

‘I know things have all pretty much settled down now, but I just want to make sure everybody has my number,’ he said at a sparsely-attended press call on the fringe of the Labour conference in Brighton. ‘You know, I’m here any time, just say the word. The word being “challenge”, of course,’ he added, winking.

Senior Labour figures, who refused to be named, were said to be ‘interested’ in getting hold of Ed’s number. ‘We did have one of these younger Eds before, but I think we were using it all wrong,’ said one backbencher known only as “YC”. ‘Instead of trying to train it to lead we should have just used it to trigger an election and then choose the leader we really wanted. If we tried that this time I can’t think of anything that could possibly go wrong.’

Jeremy Corbyn has refused to be drawn on the issue of Ed Corbyn’s loyalty. ‘We’ve never been especially close,’ he admitted, ‘but I am confident that my brother has put himself fully at the service of our party and I can depend on him for his full support, at least until I am photographed carrying a banana or accidentally take us to war in the Middle East.’

He went on to insist that such pitfalls were ‘highly unlikely’ ever to occur. ‘You know, surprises happen very rarely in politics,’ Jeremy Corbyn said. ‘There’s about as much chance of me having some kind of fruit-related PR disaster as there is of, oh, I don’t know, me being elected Leader of the Labour – no, hold on. That’s not right. Hey look over there, isn’t that my brother Ed eating a bacon sandwich?’

Chilcot appearance on Just a Minute “a complete disaster”

Sir John Chilcot’s debut appearance on Radio 4 panel show Just a Minute has received a critical mauling, after he hesitated more than any other player in the programme’s history and caused Monday evening’s edition to last fourteen hours instead of the usual thirty minutes.

The former civil servant and independent inquiry chair appeared on the panel alongside series regulars Paul Merton, Sue Perkins and former foreign secretary Jack Straw. As usual, Chilcot was asked to speak for sixty seconds without repetition, deviation or hesitation, but after an initial burst of energy (on the topic ‘the terms of this inquiry’) he rapidly dried up and dragged the proceedings out far longer than anybody else could ever have anticipated.

‘I’ve never known such incompetence,’ said panel chairman Nicholas Parsons. ‘Paul Merton repeated the words ‘sexed up’ at least eight times but Chilcot just sat there, smiling benignly and doing absolutely nothing. It was infuriating.’

Controversially, Chilcot refused to press his buzzer even when Jack Straw was given the subject ‘Why the War in Iraq was Completely Justified’ and committed several deviations from the subject on the card. ‘He paused at least three times,’ said Merton. ‘You could have made a ham sandwich in those pauses. I came all the way from Great Portland Street for this.’

The appearance became Radio 4’s most complained about show of the year. ‘We had eight thousand people emailing in to demand progress before the show had even finished,’ Parsons said. ‘Of course we’ve given Sir John the chance to reply to each criticism individually, but that might take quite a while as well. Between you and me I think he’s just a bit, well, slow.’

Corbyn to apologise for becoming Labour leader if he becomes Labour leader

Labour leadership front-runner Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to issue an apology on behalf of Labour for making him party leader if, as expected, Labour makes him party leader in the autumn.

In a statement, Corbyn said he would apologise to the British people for the ‘unprecedented disaster’ that followed his decision to enter the Labour leadership race, and to members of the party for their unprecedented suffering which is expected to continue for many years before order is fully restored.

‘I admit that I entered the race on a false prospectus,’ Corbyn said. ‘I was given a helpful leg up by a few old mates because they thought it would be nice to have a cardigan-wearing beardy leftie on the ballot for old times’ sake, but of course nobody knew that in fact I would be able to destroy the successful, prospering legacy of Ed Miliband in just 45 minutes. Not even me. I just kind of went along with it and the next thing I know I’m about to win, but I’ve got no plans for what happens next, no idea how to rebuild the mess I’m making of the party, and no clue how to govern a divided, fractious, restless population of MPs sharply divided along ideological lines. The Labour party has literally never been in a situation like this before.’

Former prime minister Tony Blair has sharply criticised Corbyn’s rapid rise from obscure, argumentative backbencher to unassailable tyrant. ‘The world cannot stand by and let this lunatic split the Labour Party,’ he said. ‘He runs the risk of being a divisive, authoritarian figure who could become deeply unpopular with the electorate. Of course, that didn’t stop me winning three elections but you know, lightning doesn’t strike twice and all that.’

Corbyn’s leadership rivals were scrambling to counter the veteran left-winger’s unexpected rise, setting out their distinctive manifestos. ‘Electing Jeremy is simply not in the long-term interests of the British people or the Labour party I love,’ said former health secretary Andy Burnham. ‘Voting for Jeremy is simply not in the interests, in the long term, of the British people or of the party I love, which is Labour,’ said former shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper. The fourth candidate, Liz Kendall, said ‘a vote to elect Jeremy would simply not be in the long-term interests of the people of Britain or of the Labour party, which I love.’

Results are expected on 12 September, with the first speech from the new leader at the party conference a week later and a new leadership election called about a week after that.


Council removes Lib Dem politician from Tory foster couple

Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, was today taken into care by Westminster City Council on the grounds that his foster parents, a Mr and Mrs Cameron, belong to a political party with ‘a warped view of the world’.

‘We take our safeguarding responsibilities for Liberal Democrats very seriously,’ said Shaun McNally, Director of Social Services at Westminster City Council. ‘It was clear to our social workers that whatever credibility Mr Clegg had left was being put at serious risk by his living with this couple. We have a duty to act in the best interests of this vulnerable politician, and in our view he needs to be with his own people, if we can find any.’

Social services first became concerned about Mr Clegg when he was placed with the Camerons in 2010. ‘You wouldn’t normally put a Liberal Democrat in such a household, and it became clear that he was being slowly indoctrinated with Tory ideology when he started behaving erratically – he’d say one thing and then do another. In fact his constituents in Sheffield were so concerned about his welfare that many told us they wouldn’t be able to bring themselves to send him back to Westminster when his current placement expired in 2015.’

Mr McNally claims that Mr Clegg’s story is an all too familiar one. ‘Many Liberal Democrats come from politically disadvantaged backgrounds, leaving them ill-prepared to deal with real world problems. It’s stability they need, and although in Mr Clegg’s case a number of families have tried to love him as if he were their own, none have so far succeeded. It’s not uncommon for MPs to end up on the streets and second homeless.’

While debate continues to rage over the decision to take Mr Clegg out of the Cameron’s care, everyone agrees that it is in the best interests of Britain for Nigel Farage MEP to continue to be cared for in Brussels.

Relieved Scottish voters finally able to get referendum campaigners to shut up

After months of harassment, voters in Scotland are finally going to the polls in a last-ditch attempt to get the Yes and No campaigns to shut up and bugger off.

As the polls open after an increasingly ill-tempered campaign, the sense of relief among ordinary Scots is palpable. ‘I’m just glad it’s all over and I can get mah country back,’ said a tearful voter in Anstruther.’When I was growing up nobody gave a dram o’Dundee piss about politics. Now it’s all Yes this, No Thanks that, whose oil is it the other. That’s why I’m voting ‘feck off, ye boring gobshites’.’

Pollsters are predicting an extremely close race. ‘We’re expecting a narrow lead for ‘I don’t give a flying mcmonkey’s’, but ‘Will you just leave me alone and stop blethering on about the currency’ is firmly ahead among men aged 35-44 and working mothers,’ said a spokesman for YouGov. ‘Mind you, there might also be a surprisingly strong showing for ‘Gordon Brown, where the feck did you dig him up from?’, especially among voters born before 2007.’

The return of Mr Brown to the political frontline sparked a wave of misery among poor Scottish voters forced to listen to barnstorming Presbyterian speeches about British vowyous for the first time since he was prime minister. ‘Mind you, things were bad enough beforehand, what with years of being hectored by Alex Salmond and then Alistair Darling popping up after all this time and droning on about the economy again,’ said another elector from Forfar. ‘If we’d known that a referendum meant listening to this shower o’ bastards fer weeks on end, then we’d never’ve whinged about not having our own bloody parliament in the first place.’

The long campaign has had some positive effects, however. The Scottish placard and sticker industries have seen a huge boost in output, while a tech startup in Aberdeen that marketed an anti-Nicola Sturgeon spray has already sold half a million units and is now employing 45 people.

The onslaught of verbose politicians has left many Scots feeling even more demoralised and miserable than they were before. ‘I’ll tell you what, it’s really reminded me how much we hate these self-serving, rich, smug, carnaptious heid-the-baw scunners and their glaikit mince,’ said an undecided voter at a polling booth in Tain. ‘Just one more thing we’ve got in common with the English. Now, to vote. What was the question again?’

Independent Scotland ‘will never find out sex of Royal baby’, warns Cameron

David Cameron has denied that the campaign against Scottish independence has ‘run out of ideas’ by announcing that an independent Scotland will ‘never find out’ what sex the new Royal baby turns out to be.

‘I won’t tell you whether it’s a girl or a boy, and you won’t be able to watch BBC News 24 to find out either,’ the prime minister said at a Better Together hustings in Dumfries. ‘And don’t expect the Queen to tell you either, if you vote yes she’ll be bloody furious.’

The Royal baby news has caused an otherwise leaden referendum campaign to explode into life. Scottish Labour MP Jim Murphy has returned to his tedious tour of Scotland’s high streets, temporarily abandoned last week after an egg-throwing voter accused him of ‘not talking about the Royal family enough’.

Mr Murphy won over a number of voters to the No campaign by promising that the Royal baby stratagem was just the start. ‘We’ll introduce free UK wide wifi and we’ll never tell you the password,’ he warned. ‘And we will ensure that Doctor Who gets shot by a Cyberman the week before independence and then we won’t let you see the episode where he finishes regenerating.’

Other key pieces of national information to be withheld from an independent Scotland include who killed Lucy Beale in EastEnders, which celebrities’ naked photos leak next, whether anybody ever actually builds that bloody railway to Birmingham.

‘We will still let you know what Nick Clegg promises in his next manifesto, but we won’t tell you whether he sticks to it,’ Mr Murphy added. ‘Mind you, you can probably work that one out for yourselves.’