Created by Peter Stuart (whose father Mel was responsible for the 1971 adaptation of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory) and running for 16 series between 1993-2004, Eurotrash shone a particularly eye-opening light on the sordid and smutty goings on from across Europe (and, occasionally, around the world). Each episode is a 30-minute round-up of clips featuring our European cousins behaving in some very peculiar ways indeed. Some of the demented denizens we encounter include an artist who paints with poo, a wet-wear fetishist who owns Europe's largest collection of raincoats, lashings of kinky S&M shenanigans, a Turkish potter who collects women's hair to display in his workshop, the curators of animal penis and dung museums, and many, many naked Germans. Oh, and there's lots of camp high-energy Europop too, just for good measure.
The innuendo-laden script is narrated by the magnificent Maria McErland, who somehow manages to sound manic, delighted, sarcastic, bewildered, distraught and disinterested all at the same time, while comedy impressionists and voiceover artists Johnny Daukes and Kate Robbins provide dubiously-translated dialogue in a variety of regional British accents and silly voices. The clips are all linked together by Antoine de Caunes and Jean-Paul Gaultier from their garishly bright cardboard cutout studio, where their magnetic personalities, broad French/English accents (laid on extra thick for comic effect) and good-natured bickering made them one of the most iconic TV duos of the 90s (albeit a relatively short lived relationship - Jean-Paul moved on to new ventures after the seventh series, leaving Antoine to continue alongside a cast of guest hosts).
Eurotrash often went to the effort of interviewing its participants on camera and sometimes even bringing them into the studio, and a handful of them - like the unfeasibly buxom Lolo Ferrari, the nearly-nude and not remotely attractive Romeo Cleaners, slap-headed performance art "twins" from the future Eva and Adele, and elderly Belgian singer Eddy Wally - became beloved characters who earned recurring spots on the show. There are even appearances from big names like Siegfried and Roy, Bjork and Kylie Minogue, along with Graham Norton, Lily Savage, Eddie Izzard and several others who would go on to make names for themselves in British TV and comedy circles, as well as countless supermodels and big names from the worlds of fashion and... erm... let's just call it "smut".
Trashy, gaudy and tasteless, it's very much one of those "you wouldnt get away with that these days" kind of shows, but in many ways that makes watching Eurotrash today feel as unique and entertaining as it was during its initial run. Only three of the twenty discs were provided for review and information about the set's full contents hasn't yet been made available, so whether the dozen or so one-off specials that accompanied the series are included is unclear, but you're still getting a huge amount of saucy ridiculousness for your money - over 160 episodes with a runtime of 54 hours, in fact! In an ideal world, a remastered Blu-ray set would have been welcome, but given that this is a rather niche release you can understand why they've plumped for a standard DVD for the time being. It's quite amazing that this box set exists at all, considering the licenses and permissions involved with clearing such vast amounts of footage for general release, so we should probably just be thankful to everyone involved for making it happen. The DVD arrives on September 26th, but head over to the official Youtube channel in the meantime to either indulge yourself in a warm blast of nostalgia or find out what you missed!