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Newsroom satire Drop the Dead Donkey to return in stage revival

Snooty news anchor Sally Smedley, gung-ho reporter Damien Day and eternally crestfallen editor George Dent are set to return as the Channel 4 sitcom Drop the Dead Donkey has inspired a new stage version.

Twenty-five years after it concluded on television, the newsroom satire will tour the UK and reunite seven of its original cast members including Stephen Tompkinson, Neil Pearson, Victoria Wicks and Jeff Rawle.

The play is written by the duo behind the TV series, Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin. The pair said that their script – the first stage version of the sitcom – plunges the characters into “the cutthroat world of modern 24-hour news gathering” and shows them navigating their way through “the daily chaos of social media, fake news and interim prime ministers”.

Those characters in the dysfunctional Globelink News office include chief exec Gus Hedges (Robert Duncan), ultra-efficient Helen Cooper (Ingrid Lacey) and Joy Merryweather (Susannah Doyle), the ironically named PA.

Drop the Dead Donkey: The Reawakening! will tour the UK from January, directed by Lindsay Posner in a production for Hat Trick and Simon Friend Entertainment. It opens at Richmond theatre and ends its run at Cheltenham’s Everyman theatre in June.

Earlier this month Tompkinson was found not guilty of inflicting grievous bodily harm on a drunken man he confronted outside his home. The actor said of the new production: “What excites me the most is being back with the cast – we’ve known each other for 30-odd years and this is a whole new adventure.”

Drop the Dead Donkey ran for six series, from 1990 to 1998, and was noted for its topical humour. Ninety percent of each episode was written in advance, with space left for last minute references based on the current headlines. Hamilton told the Guardian in 2015: “Where the donkey came from, I still don’t know. I’ve heard journalists swear it’s authentic – that ‘donkey’ refers to the cute animal story at the end of the [news programme’s] running order. But the reality is it just sounded good.”

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