John Oliver: "The most formative comedy of my teenage years."
June 10, 2013 5:16 AM Subscribe
There was no wink and they never sold it out for these half-hour, densely, beautifully produced pieces, which is, for all possibilities, obscuring that this doesn’t at all sound like a comedy show. It is all the production elements you would use in a full-scale news production. All the gravitas, but just inflated to a point that it has no gravitas whatsoever. And I think that is where it became this excitingly subversive thing because it just showed that BBC Radio 4 and everything it stood for was just a big bag of shit.John Oliver on why he's a fan of On the Hour. On the Hour, of course, is the legendary BBC news radio program created by, among other people, Armando Iannucci (The Thick of It, In The Loop, Veep), Christopher Morris (Jam, Brass Eye, Four Lions, Why Bother?), Stewart Lee (41st best stand-up comic ever), and Steve Coogan (Knowing Me Knowing You With Alan Partridge, I'm Alan Partridge). Short-lived but influential, On the Hour mimicked the tone and production of other radio news shows but replaced the content with what Oliver describes as "unremitting bullshit". On the Hour was aired in two six-episode series (S1E1 S1E2 S1E3 S1E4 S1E5 S1E6; S2E1 S2E2 S2E3 S2E4 S2E5 S2E6), and begat a television series called The Day Today. That show in turn added Graham Linehan (Black Books, Father Ted, The IT Crowd) to On the Hour's already all-star lineup, upped the already-insane levels of overproduction, and ran for six short-but-glorious episodes (one two three four five (WAR!) six), as well as a special 9/11 radio report.
I briefly considered bullshitting about the On the Hour staff I didn't know as much about – Steven Wells, Richard Herring, David Quantick, Rebecca Front, etc. – but this was getting overlong as-is. Apologies if I skipped over your favorite British comedy legend.
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