Comic Strip Presents: The Hunt For Tony Blair (Channel 4, 9pm)
Top Gear USA (BBC Three, 7pm)

CAST your mind back to the days when Tony Blair was still Prime Minister, and then try casting it back even further to the era of Fifties film noirs.

Yes, that’s right, the Comic Strip has returned and is doing what it does best, giving the Hollywood treatment to British politics.

After all, these are the people who brought us a version of the miners’ strike starring Al Pacino (or at least Peter Richardson doing an impression of him) as Arthur Scargill.

In the spoof thriller The Comic Strip Presents: The Hunt for Tony Blair, we are treated to Jennifer Saunders playing Margaret Thatcher by way of Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

She admits it’s not the easiest acting assignment.

Speaking on the set, she said: ‘‘It’s an odd thing because the look is kind of Margaret Thatcher but not Margaret Thatcher.

Director and co-writer Peter Richardson has given me a bit difficult remit here, so it’s Bette Davis, but watch Sunset Boulevard, but also be Margaret Thatcher – so I’m slightly lost at the moment.

‘‘I’m just letting Peter come in after every shot to tell me what he wants.

“But I really don’t know what I’m doing, but apparently I’m doing it very well.’’ Despite having previously played Thatcher in Comic Strip Presents the Red Nose of Courage in 1992, Saunders has still done some additional research.

She said: ‘‘I’ve been watching YouTube videos of her, but I find it very difficult to do real dialogue as her voice, as it’s such a particular sort of voice.

“It’s very strange because it’s very soft then very strident.’’ Just in case any cynics are thinking that the Thatcher jokes suggest the Comic Strip isn’t so much looking back to the Blair era as stuck in the Eighties, it’s worth pointing out that Saunders is definitely keeping a finger on the comedy pulse.

She said: ‘‘I love Miranda and Rev a lot – Tom Hollander and Olivia Colman are both brilliant.

‘‘My kids got me into Him & Her. Sarah Solemani, Katy Wix and, of course, my daughter’s comedy group Lady Garden are some of my favourites.’’ The rest of the Comic Strip have clearly also been keeping their eye on today’s up-and-comers.

As well as featuring such veterans as Nigel Planer, Robbie Coltrane, Rik Mayall and Harry Enfield, the cast also finds room for Morgana Robinson and Inbetweener James Buckley.

However, the biggest role goes to Green Wing’s Stephen Mangan, who stars as Tony Blair.

In this version of events, the Prime Minister has been accused of murder and is forced to go on the run, leaving Number 10 and adoring wife Cherie (Catherine Shepherd) behind.

He is determined to clear his name, but on a foggy London night, few of his friends are willing to take him in, especially with the front pages baying for his capture.

The chase hots up as his supposed allies Mandelson (Planer) and Brown (Ford Kiernan) may be about to give the dogged Inspector Hutton (Robbie Coltrane) a lead, but things are about to get weird as Blair has an unlikely encounter with Thatcher.

IF a TV show format works well in one country, chances are it will be sold all over the world.

Unfortunately, not every programme goes down a treat on foreign soil – sitcoms Dad’s Army and Men Behaving Badly died a death when given a US spin.

In 2005, the Discovery Channel attempted to make an US version of Top Gear hosted by UK frontmen Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, but, despite filming a pilot edition, a series was not commissioned.

However, following a failed attempt to sell the format to NBC, the History Channel, of all places, picked it up, producing a programme hosted by racing driver Tanner Foust, actor and comedian Adam Ferrara and automotive analyst Rutledge Wood.

This version is about to make its BBC debut, with retired astronaut Buzz Aldrin taking part in Big Star, Small Car – the US show’s take on the hugely popular Star in a Reasonably Priced Car segment.