Someone is making a sitcom about the election

The new five-part comedy series Ballot Monkeys, which hitches a ride with the party apparatchiks on the general election battle buses, will be shot at the last-possible moment to make sure its satire is absolutely up-to-the-minute.

It’s an exciting concept that would have most writer-directors swinging from the trees with nerves. Not Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin.

The creators of Drop the Dead Donkey, the Nineties newsroom sitcom which featured swathes of topical material inserted at the 11th hour, and Outnumbered, which included scenes improvised by its mainly child actors, are not fazed by the notion of recording up to a third of the new Channel 4 comedy on the day of transmission.

“We don’t have time to be daunted or to agonise about anything,” laughs Jenkin as the pair take a rare hour off in the run-up to tomorrow’s first episode. “All we know is that from now until election day it would be a bad time to have writer’s block. This process will either keep us young or make us old very fast. One of the two.”

Both Cambridge graduates, they have been creative partners since they worked on Radio 4’s topical comedy programme Week Ending nearly four decades ago. They went on to collaborate on shows such as Not the Nine O’Clock News and Spitting Image, before creating the multi-award-winning Drop the Dead Donkey, which ran for six series from 1990. Like any self-respecting double act, they can predict and finish each other’s sentences.

At one point, for example, Jenkin says: “We’ve heard that journalists have to pay £750 a day to get on some battle buses.” Without missing a beat, Hamilton adds: “And £800 to get off.”

The writers will be ripping stories from that morning’s headlines and weaving them into the scripts about four political parties’ campaign buses, which will be populated by, among others, Martin Frost (Hugh Dennis), a resentful One Nation Tory who feels abandoned by his party; Kevin Sturridge (Ben Miller), a Lib-Dem battered and bruised by five years of Government with the Tories; Melanie Buck (Kathleen Rose Perkins, Episodes), an American spin doctor advising Labour and given to empty political mantras; and Kate Standen (Sarah Hadland, Miranda), a Ukip office-support manager with inflated ideas of her own importance.

‘Ballot Monkeys’ starts on Tuesday on Channel 4

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