Smack the Pony is a British sketch comedy show that ran from 1999 until 2003 on Channel 4. The title was not intended to sound like a euphemism for female masturbation; in fact the 'pony' originally referred to cockney rhyming slang 'pony and trap' (crap), the working title being Spot the Pony. The resulting ambiguity was attractive however. The main performers on the show were Fiona Allen, Doon Mackichan and Sally Phillips. There were also regular appearances from Sarah Alexander, Darren Boyd and Cavan Clerkin. The show's popular theme tune was Dusty Springfield's song In the Middle of Nowhere, sung by Jackie Clune. As well as the three principal cast members, the show was written by a large number of writers, the core of which went on to write Green Wing and Campus. In Germany, the first transmission of the show aired on ProSieben, where the theme tune was changed to Texas' 2001 version of I Don't Want a Lover, and featured a different title sequence.
Among the show's regular themes were unsuccessful relationships, competition in the workplace and latent lesbianism, but sketches would also dip into the surreal; such as two women jumping from their car as they neared a parking space, and brushing in front of the path of their car to help it move further forward, as in curling. Two regular strands involved a series of different women making dating agency videos about their general likes and dislikes, and a musical parody that would close the show.
Most of the sketch characters in the programme are not recurring or permanent, just one-offs.
Dating Agency Videos - A part of almost every episode, where we see different women or often sisters/couples looking for a partner/partners. This was at first represented by a title screen featuring a picture of the person, and their name and age. This then was replaced by that of a website page.
Irritating Flatmate - An irritating nurse who shares a flat with two of her colleagues. She emphasises everything, which often leads to her flatmates' doing something behind her back, such as adding soap and cleaning chemicals to her yoghurt.
The Fake Diabetic - A woman who fakes diabetic hypoglycemia so she can have special offers and free items at shops and supermarkets, and which the staff treat seriously. This skit only happened from series 3 onwards.
The Oblivious Women - Consists of three women (in different sketches) who are completely oblivious to very obvious things. Sketches included a dog-walking woman being asked to sign apetition so that owners could walk their dogs near the pond. She replies, "Oh, I don't know, I'm not really a dog person, I'm actually slightly phobic." The petitioner pauses which causes the woman to realise she is walking a dog and then scream for help. Others included a woman not realising she was pregnant until being asked to sign a petition affecting children.
Singing Match - In this sketch, a woman sings along to a tune on the radio, only to be outshone completely by her co-worker who takes over in the following verse. During the rest of the song, her singing becomes more and more intense and extreme as she tries to get back at the other singer, and she ends up screaming and excusing herself with a paper cut in her finger. This particular sketch was voted number 22 in the 2005 Channel 4 programme, 50 Greatest Comedy Sketches, chosen by members of the public. It was written by Marie Findley of theMediæval Bæbes and was also based on their antics.
Competitive rivals - This involves the four women who try to 'outdo' each other by subtly showing off bigger and better items. For example, the 1st character brings out a small bottle of water and starts drinking daintily. The 2nd spots this and smugly brings out a slightly bigger bottle. They then look over to the 3rd character who brings out a litre size bottle of water and drinks. Then they all look over to the 4th character with the best: She guzzles down water too fast from a large water dispenser jug, splashing all down the front of her, then nonchalantly puts the bottle down not looking at the others as she returns to work.
Naked man - This recurring skit appears in a few first series episodes. The female cast members are going about their daily business when a totally naked man walks across the screen, gets off from bus etc. and causes the women to faint, then they pick themselves up.
The "Vet" - The sketch featured more prominently from the second series. It featured a vet who had difficulty recognising animals, asking questions about them ("And George is a... um...?" / "Hamster" / "Hamster, yeah.") She would then recommend silly / unusual diagnoses to the animals, such as telling a woman her kitten needed glasses.
The Ex - Another sketch that featured more in the second series. A woman clings to the leg of her ex-boyfriend constantly (at work, a nightclub, and even clinging to his leg at his wedding etc.), telling him that she's still in love with him, and hopes to reconcile (unsuccessfully, however).