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BBC Radio
Posted on Sunday 12 January 2014 at 8:53 am

Rachael's Week in BBC Radio 2014:2

I listened to non-panel stuff this week so we're back to the usual format! Listened to: Series 1 of an old sitcom, Giles Wemmbley-Hogg Goes Off, and the more recent Mitchell and Webb short radio Play Daydream Believers. I also listened to some more old episodes of Unbelievable Truth and I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue and a pilot for a new comedy panel show.

Lots of good stuff coming up this week. At the top of my interest list are the third series of Warhorses of Letters (Napoleon's and Wellington's horses in a gay relationship with Stephen Fry as the French horse!!), adaptations of the Orestria cycle of classic Greek plays, and a dramatization of Richard Lattimore's version of Alexander the Great's story.

Listened to 5 to 11 January:

Giles Wemmbley-Hogg Goes Off Series 1
This is an old sitcom co-created and co-written by and starring Marcus Brigstocke. If you know Brigstocke's general comedy persona, you'll know what to expect. If you don't, he is from a very post background and is very self-aware about how privileged he is and how not other people are and frequently uses his comedy to highlight those kinds of inequalities and injustices and to generally poke fun at more self-important posh stereotypes. In this series, he plays a young rich twit who is traveling the globe during his gap year. There's a great deal of poking fun at the stereotypes of rich white people using the lived experiences of others as catalyst for self-improvement or just as fancy tourist destinations. Unfortunately, some of the presentations of the character's stereotyped views of others aren't undermined as much as they should be and come across as the creator's actual racist stereotyped views. This doesn't happen often and is clearly a missed effort at undermining not an intentional reinforcement, but that is the hazard with this kind of show. I still enjoyed it and felt they got it right far more than they got it wrong. There are 6 runs of Giles Wemmbley-Hogg and I'll probably listen to another one or two this week then maybe give it a rest before coming back to the show.

Daydream Believers
This was a short (c. 30-minute) radio play by and starring David Mitchell and Robert Webb. It was... OK. It seemed more like an extended sketch, or actually two sketches loosely connected and intermixed, than a really though-out play. Bits were funny, but the thing as a whole didn't do much for me.

Comedy Panel Shows

I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue
I listened to most of Series 49 and 50 this week, which were Humph's last two before he died in 2008 and Jack Dee became the new chair. They were pretty good. The last couple of 50 were particular favorites as they had Andy Hamilton and Jack Dee as guests and they made quite an acerbic pair at times.

The Unbelievable Truth
I listened to the first two series, a couple of random episodes, and the latest episode (12:2). There was a lot of good stuff in the first couple of episodes, including a couple with Lee Mack as a guest in which he'd buzz at everything and one where one of the guests just could not figure out the rules. One random episode was from c. series 5 and was a New Year's 2010 (aired end of 2009) QI special with Stephen Fry and Alan Davies as guests. Every time Fry buzzed incorrectly, Davies was over the moon with joy. It was hilarious. The 2008 Christmas Special was also a lovely final holiday listen with someone getting a bonus point for buzzing in to say it was a truth that Santa Clause is real. The most recent was fantastic, but I mentioned it in an edit update to last week's post.

Britain Versus the World
This was the pilot for a new comedy panel show that will be returning for an entire series soon. It was somewhat similar in feel to Act Your Age, for anyone who knows that. There were two teams, one of British comedians and one of non-British comedians, and they competed against each other in stupid little challenges to see who knows most about Britain or about the world at large or who could praise or condemn Britain the best on a given topic, etc. It was OK but not destined to be one of my favorites, I think.

Downloading 12 to 18 January:


Four Quartets (Saturday Drama)
In an unusual move for both the Saturday Drama slot and for something to grab my attention, this is a reading not a play / dramatization. But it is Jeremy Irons reading four T S Eliot poems, so that's OK.

Ken Kesey - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Dramatization of the classic anti-establishment novel. I love the novel so looking forward to the adaptation.

Miss Marple - 4.50 From Paddington
It's an Agatha Christie Miss Marple that I don't have.

Vita Sackville-West - All Passion Spent Omnibus
Dramatization of a 1931 novel about a widow who demands the right to live independently. Hooray feminism! This is also available in shorter daily episodes as the 15-Minute Drama this week.

Lee Hall - Spoonface Steinberg
This sounds interesting more from a broadcasting history P of V than anything. The story is about a little girl with autism who is dying of cancer. According to the BBC description, it was first aired in 1997 and apparently elicited a massive response and was then adapted for TV and for stage.

Wildsong (Afternoon Drama)
This sounds like something of an experimental radio play. It is about long-lost brothers reuniting when their father dies, but, according to the Beeb description is as much about the music, "a soundscape composed using recordings made on the Somerset Levels."

Daily Multi-Episode Programs Starting This Week

David Wade - Alexander
Adaptation by Richmond Lattimore of the Alexander the Great story. I love dramatizations of Alexander's story (far more than the real history) and Lattimore is widely regarded as one of the best at translating and adapting ancient Greek and related plays, etc.

Paul Temple and the Lawrence Affair
Someday I'll actually listen to a Paul Temple story. When I finally do, I sure hope I like 'em, since I'll have dozens to get through. :)

Weekly Multi-Episode Programs Starting This Week

The Oresteia (Drama on 3)
New versions of the series of three classic Greek plays about Agamemnon's family in the aftermath of the Fall of Troy. A very brief summary of the plays: dad kills daughter so wife/mother kills him so son kills her so gods take on him. Sounds like fun, right?

Doctor Who - The Pyramids of Mars
Reading by Tom Baker of a novelization of a Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane TV adventure.

Warhorses of Letters Series 3
If you don't know Warhorses of Letters, your life is incomplete. Basically, Napoleon's horse and Wellington's horse, both males, carry on a written correspond during the course of the Napoleonic Wars and fall in love. The best bit is Stephen Fry plays Napoleon's horse with a fantabulous fake French accent. I'm so excited this is back for a third series!

Comedy Panel Shows
The Unbelievable Truth is in the midst of a new run.
I've Never Seen Star Wars is running repeats.

Anything good y'all listened to recently or looking forward to next week?


failte_aoife at 4:45 pm on 13 January 2014 (UTC) (Link)
I am so happy that Warhorses of letters is back on. I can't wait to listen to it.

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