During my month of Nano Num-Nums (if these mean nothing have a look at the tab at the top of the page) I concentrated on TV and the comedy shows that resonated with me at various points in my life. Today I’d like to do the same with Radio.
Declaration No 1. I am a radio fan. I consider myself lucky that we have something so brilliant as Radio Four here in the UK. It eschews both popular music and classical music and generally has no truck with phone-ins (at least not the dribbly ranting variety) all of which are, to me, recipes for my brain gathering its things together and leaving via my ears in a huff. The morning schedule during a weekday takes some beating.
However the main benefit, down the years, has been the comedy shows. Of course there has been tripe. I will not give airtime here to some of the utter shite I’ve listened to in hope it might have some redeeming feature. Some even make Miranda seem funny which just goes to show.
Some have been middling. Back when I was starting out my listening (1962ish) I enjoyed the Navy Lark but frankly, on re-listening recently it’s had its day. There were shows like the Clitheroe Kid and Al Reid, which even back then, when I thought a KitKat the height of sophistication, I struggled with. And so it has proved down the years. Coming bang up to date, I had high hopes of Bleak Expectations but it is a Curate’s Full English with black pudding and soggy hash browns so I’m going off it.
Instead let us focus on those that I can re-listen too with joy, even after so many years and with changes in comedic taste making older comedy less appealing generally.
Taking them chronologically then
The Goon Show
This is of course a gold standard. Some doesn’t stand the test of time, but a lot is genius. It was before my time but the repeats were a standard in my house.
Hancock’s Half Hour
I listened to these on repeat too, as well as the TV shows. It is noteworthy that the real genius behind this (Anthony Hancock) and the Goon Show (Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers) were depressive men who struggled with their illness throughout their lives.
Here it is Hancock’s Car
Round the Horne/Beyond Our Ken
This was a subversive show that I loved as a preteen unaware of the outrageous double entendres that my mother and father were giggling at. It did seem odd that they heard jokes which my brother and I didn’t and vice versa. Brilliant.
Here’s an episode from 1967
I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again
By the end of the 1960s, comedy on the BBC was booming. This series where I first came across John Cleese and Tim Brooke-Taylor was both surreal and silly. A perfect combination for me.
I’m Sorry I haven’t a Clue
Years later, some of the original cast from ISIRTA, Graham Garden and Tim Brooke Taylor joined the antidote to panel games. This still goes out today though the original, with Humphrey Lyttleton in the chair was peachy. The game, Mornington Crescent has become a standard.
The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
This was written for radio even if it made a successful transition to film.
Episode one. *swoon*
Now to show I’m not a totally and irredeemably little Englander, here’s a broadcast my dad introduced me to and loved.
I give you Bob Newhart, the Driving Instructor. We listened to him on the radio and laughed. So hard.
I hope these play ok and maybe give you a little fun.