WHERE WERE YOU WHEN: Eurotrash first hit our screens

The show pushed the boundaries, remembers its voiceover artist Maria McErlane.

My first impression of Channel 4’s Eurotrash was, ‘How on earth will they get away with this filth?’ There were so many boobs, bums, naked Germans and poo enthusiasts, it felt far too racy for British television.

Antoine De Caunes (left) and Jean-Paul Gaultier presented the Friday night show. Image: Channel 4.

The show was conceived to throw light on the amusing pastimes of our European chums. It featured short filmed segments of the more outré areas of life, linked by French hosts Antoine de Caunes and Jean-Paul Gaultier, while garish graphics flashed and scantily clad dancers twirled around the studio for no apparent reason.

Antoine presented a segment called Sit on Me, where a half-naked model or porn star would do exactly that and jiggle up and down on his lap while a plinky-plonky jingle played in the background. Different times, eh?

Eurotrash’s genius idea was to revoice the original language of filmed participants into English but with very strong regional dialects. For example, a dubious-looking fella discussing his passion for dressing as an adult baby was somehow more acceptable – and accessible – when delivered in a broad Brummie accent. While the dubbed script had to reflect what was being said, any elements of sleaze were eliminated with humour and a cheeky postcard bawdiness. It was cheap yet titillating television that just about managed to dupe the regulators.

Laughing at funny foreigners today would be considered unacceptably xenophobic. There was certainly an air of smug Empire-esque superiority about the crazy antics of many of the participants – pointing and sneering at the sort of things we Brits would never do (yet very much enjoyed watching when we got back from the pub).

Cult viewing it may have been, but it spawned many copycat programmes over the years. Did it change the nature of British TV? Possibly – but not necessarily in a good way.

Also that month…

Niall Horan
  • Sydney was chosen to host the 2000 Summer Olympics.
  • The leader of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), Yasser Arafat, signed the first Oslo peace accord with Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
  • DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince (Will Smith) scored a number one hit with ‘Boom! Shake The Room’.
  • Members of the Anti-Federalist League formed the UK Independence Party (UKIP).
  • One Direction star Niall Horan (above) was born in Mullingar, Ireland.