LONDON — A new TV comedy set in President Nixon’s Oval Office starring U.S. satirist Harry Shearer is to bow in the U.K. because Shearer believed U.S. web heads wouldn’t get the joke.
“Nixon’s the One” is based on verbatim transcripts of more than 198 hours of recordings made between February 1971 and July 1973, and released by the Nixon Presidential Library in 2008.
Taped over two days at Sky Studios in West London, the 30-minute show stars Shearer as Nixon and Henry Goodman as Henry Kissinger.
Sky Arts, which outbid the BBC for the show, will air “Nixon’s the One” in the U.K. April 26.
The producer is U.K. entertainment specialist Hat Trick, whose managing director Jimmy Mulville said: “Recreating the Oval Office and populating it with Harry Shearer’s Nixon and watching the recreations of just a few of the thousands of hours of conversations with Kissinger, (Bob) Haldeman and (John) Ehrlichman was a unique and wonderful experience.”
As yet there are no plans to show the satire in the U.S. although Shearer, best known for his voice-over work in “The Simpsons,” hopes an acquisition by a cable web will happen in due course.
He said: “I’d always conceived this as a TV show, but knew it would not be done the way I wanted it in the U.S. … It looks like high-quality surveillance material.”
Shearer added: “It is not about Watergate or Vietnam, but about Nixon as a character and demonstrates what a twisted, effed-up guy he was.
“Nixon might not have invented the scorched earth political form of attack but he honed it like no-one else.
“In the U.S. Nixon is still regarded as a highly political character whereas this is a non-political show lacking in any surface controversy.
“‘Nixon’s the One’ is not too strong for American sensibilities, or how the network executives like to characterize them.
“I could see this working as an acquisition for someone like HBO.”