Bad News made their television debut during 1983, in the first series of The Comic Strip Presents... (written by Edmondson, and produced by Michael White/Comic Strip Productions). The episode, "Bad News Tour", took the form of a satirical fly-on-the-wall rockumentary, in which the incompetent band is followed travelling to a gig in Grantham, by an almost equally inept documentary film crew: It seemed to take much inspiration from Mark Kidel's 1976 BBC documentary So You Wanna Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star? that followed the Kursaal Flyers around Scotland and northeast England. The episode was also coincidentally in production at the same time as This Is Spinal Tap, which was released the following year to a much wider audience and subsequently greater acclaim.
The "Bad News Tour" episode is notable for featuring songs (written by Edmondson and Simon Brint) that do not appear on either of the Bad News albums or in the later TV episode. These rare tunes are "Bad News" (Version 1), "The Motorbike Song" (a.k.a. "Doing A Ton Down The Highway"), a brief snippet of a song whose title is unknown, and an almost complete live version of "Mr Rock N Roll". These tunes represent the only released Bad News material not co-produced by the Queen guitarist, Brian May.
The band continued to tour throughout most of the decade and released an eponymously titled album, consisting of thrashy rock songs punctuated by frequent squabbling amongst the band's members. Brian May produced the record, which included a cover version of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody". That track peaked at No. 44 in the UK Singles Chart in September 1987.
Perhaps their most memorable appearance was when they were invited to play at the Monsters of Rock festival at Castle Donington in 1986. This performance was the centre piece of a second follow-up Comic Strip episode, "More Bad News", broadcast again by Channel 4 in 1988. A feature of the band's on-stage antics that day, omitted from the final cut, was a method of coping with the crowd's plastic (and often urine-filled) bottle barrage, which was then a traditional (if somewhat awkward) welcome for bands playing at the festival in those days. Before the performance began properly, the band spent time just running around on stage dodging missiles, with Mayall using his guitar as a bat in an attempt to return some. They also played a low-key London show at the Marquee Club, with guest appearances by Jeff Beck and Brian May. In late 1987, to promote the release of their eponymous album, the band embarked on a full UK tour which also featured a guest appearance from May during the encore. The same year Bad News also supported Iron Maiden and Paul Samson's Empire at the Hammersmith Odeon, at a Sunday Matinee show Iron Maiden added (as part of their Somewhere On Tour), a sixth consecutive date at the venue. The show featured a guest appearance from Jimmy Page.
In 2012, for the 30 Years of Comic Strip documentary, Planer and Richardson returned as Den Dennis and Spider Webb respectively to recall stories from their time as Bad News.
Bad News, Bad News
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