Imagine Rebekah Brooks roller-skating through the Sun’s newsroom as editorial staff, having been told to avoid making eye contact, duck below their desks.
And conjure up this image: a wheelchair-bound Rupert Murdoch locked in a room by Wendi Deng as she spends time with guitar-strumming Tony Blair.
Closer to the home of this blog, envision the former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger leading a news conference sing-song of the newspaper’s anthem with a refrain about swinging to the left.
These are just three of the memorable scenes from a wonderful TV satire, Red Top, to be screened later this month.
It’s a glorious, irreverent post-hacking lampoon, a fantasy set in the 1970s with flairs, moustaches and disco music, that tells the story of Rebekah, an ingenue from the north of England who, having accidentally become chief executive of News International, gets embroiled (innocently of course) in a scandal.
At two previews, I witnessed audiences laughing aloud, and often, at the unfolding of the surreal plot and the hysterical portrayals of the main characters.
Conceived and written by Peter Richardson – with co-writers Pete Richens and Brigit Grant – it is his latest Comic Strip presentation.
Maxine Peake stars as the beguiling Brooks, the eponymous red-top, and there are a clutch of brilliant cameo performances. They include Harry Enfield as Ross Kemp, Brooks’s ex-husband; Stephen Mangan as Blair; Russell Tovey as Andy Coulson; Nigel Planer as Murdoch; and Eleanor Matsuura as Wendi.
Look out also for Johnny Vegas, Alexei Sayle, Dominic Tighe (as a subservient David Cameron) and a double role by John Sessions.
Richardson describes Red Top as a “Boogie Nights-style parallel universe with a disco soundtrack.” And I agree with Gold’s commissioning editor, Simon Lupton, who said: “The script is wonderfully hilarious and playful.”
Red Top is due to be shown on UKTV’s channel, Gold, at 10pm on 20 January. It is not to be missed.