Whether you know the basic story or not, you may enjoy Mark Steel's lecture on Beethoven's life for its entertaining (and decidedly informal) presentation.
RIP actor Warren Mitchell who had significant career on both stage and screen but will always be best remembered for playing the iconic and controversial bigot, Alf Garnett in the British television series Till Death Us Do Part and In Sickness and in Health [more inside]
Harry Enfield & Paul Whitehouse: Smashie and Nicey - The End Of An Era Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 (note: the very end edited out). [Previously: "Do you... do you like Tina Turner, Ted?"]
Anarchic comedy provocateur Chris Morris (The Day Today, Brass Eye, Jam and Four Lions) was recently the subject of a retrospective on BBC's Raw meat Radio [more inside]
Dipdap is a children's BBC show for pre-schoolers. Completely wordless, it's a fairly delightful and surprisingly funny mixture of shape recognition, music and discovery (and lots of visual comedy), where "the line" draws a series of challenges and problems for Dipdap to solve. Here's every single episode of it.
The Fast Show summary from Wikipedia:
The Fast Show, known as Brilliant in the US, was a BBC comedy sketch show programme that ran from 1994 to 1997, with a special in 2000 and 2014. It was one of the most popular sketch shows of the 1990s in the UK. The show's central performers were Paul Whitehouse, Charlie Higson, Simon Day, Mark Williams, John Thomson, Arabella Weir and Caroline Aherne. Other significant cast members included Paul Shearer, Rhys Thomas, Jeff Harding, Maria McErlane, Eryl Maynard, Colin McFarlane and Donna Ewin.[more inside]
It was loosely structured and relied on character sketches, recurring running gags, and many catchphrases. Its fast-paced "blackout" style set it apart from traditional sketch series because of the number and relative brevity of its sketches; a typical half-hour TV sketch comedy of the period might have consisted of nine or ten major items, with contrived situations and extended setups, whereas the premiere episode of The Fast Show featured twenty-seven sketches in thirty minutes, with some items lasting less than ten seconds and none running longer than three minutes. Its innovative style and presentation influenced many later series such as Little Britain and The Catherine Tate Show.
Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle is both a television show featuring stand-up comedian Stewart Lee (previously), and the whimsical clown car in the opening credits of the show’s first season. Lee’s patronizing, repetitive, and defeatist style may appear thoughtful or ironic, but taking him at face value reveals a darker, more interesting picture (NSFW language): [more inside]
Jake Yapp presents the whole of Radio 4 in 4 minutes. (SYLT)
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. [more inside]
How to play chess properly, as explained by the BBC. Written and performed by John Luke Roberts. Directed by Steve Dawson.
Stewart Lee asks "Where are all the right-wing stand-ups?" after BBC Radio 4's commisioning editor Caroline Raphael recently admitted they struggle to "find comedians from the right" on shows such as The News Quiz.
Horrible Histories, the historical sketch show on the BBC inspired by the books of the same name, has been featured previously on Metafilter. Not mentioned, however, were the real gems of the show, Historical Desktops [MLYT]: [more inside]
Young Edd Gould always enjoyed drawing comics of himself and his friends. Growing up in the internet age, his doodles evolved into Flash animations of increasing complexity, and in time Edd and pals Tom Ridgewell and Matt Hargreaves teamed up to produce an "Eddsworld" series of online webtoons and comics. At first crude and halting, the group's "eddisodes" progressed from surreal shorts and one-shots into full-fledged productions that pushed the boundaries of amateur web animation, with expressive characters, full soundtracks, complex effects, and a fast-paced, off-kilter sense of humor: MovieMakers - Spares - WTFuture - Rock Bottom - Hammer & Fail (2). At its height, the college co-op was producing shorts for Mitchell & Webb and the UN Climate Change Conference, fielding offers from Paramount and Cartoon Network, and racking up millions of hits on YouTube. Work slowed, however, when Gould was diagnosed with leukemia -- a relatively survivable form, though, and Gould carried on working gamely through his hospital stays. So it came as a shock last week when Matt and Tom announced that Edd had passed away, prompting an outpouring of grief and gratitude from all the fans he'd entertained and inspired in his short 23 years.
The long running English sitcom Only Fools And Horses is going to be remade in the US…. The Guardians showbiz spies reveal the subtle tinkerings that have been made to the original formula. The funniest thing ever on television. Allegedly. (This is funnier)
RIP David Croft, writer / producer of some of Britain's most well known and loved sitcoms including Dad's Army, Are You Being Served?, It Ain't Half Hot Mum, Hi-de-Hi! and 'Allo 'Allo!
"I play a CD of a long Evan Parker sax solo while they [enter the theatre]. I figure if people can’t put up with that then they will probably not be able to put up with me." Quoth Benito Strauss, in the context of the Daily Mail's crusade against cruelty to millonaire stand-up Michael McIntyre: Yeah, I'd love it if someone would do a post on Stewart Lee. So: [more inside]
I'm sure many have fond memories of Karaoke for the Deaf, in which 'Johann Lippowitz' gives us Torn. (bit NSFW) With or without Natalie Imbruglia. And Wherever I Lay My Hat. Well, David Armand aka Johann Lippowitz has been at it again. This past season, BBC 2 has been airing an improv comedy show called Fast and Loose hosted by Hugh Dennis. [more inside]
Posh Nosh "I once ate a Flayed Swordfish And Guava Millefeuille that reminded me, in one sweet mouthful, of a Sea Interlude by Britten, a painting by Turner and one of Michael Holding's rampant, perfect-length balls. Sniff your computer screen. What does it remind you of? Roasted fruits? A Hockney? Cherry blossom? No. It reminds you of nothing. Computer screens look, smell, feel (even taste) like nothing. They're devoid of sensuality. People who stare at screens all day should be shot. But there are so many millions of them. There simply isn't time." Architect's Fish and Chips :: Birthday Parties:: Paella :: Beautiful Food :: Bread and Butter Pudding :: Leftovers :: Sauces :: Comfort Food :: (BBC 2, Arabella Weir, Richard E. Grant, each episode 9 mins., previously)
Not Only... But Also, the 1960s Peter Cook and Dudley Moore sketch show, was one of the many programmes where many of the episodes were lost due to the BBC's strangely appalling archival policies. Last month, however, audio recordings of 11 of the lost episodes were found at the home of NOBA fan Graham Webb, who had recorded them off the TV at the time of transmission, using a reel-to-reel tape recorder. [more inside]
"I've never interviewed anyone who's quite this animated when speaking...do you ever worry that you're going to burn out?"
Horrible Histories is a sketch comedy show made by the BBC for children. It's subject is history. Here are twenty-five sketches, including the stupid death of Edmund II, the pirate's rulebook, witchfinders direct, the song about Henry VIII's wives, Christians vs. Lions and crazy Caligula. [via Kate Beaton's twitterfeed]
Kitten Kong pt. 1, pt. 2, pt. 3 - The Goodies, Montreux 1972 Edition. Previously on Mefi: Goodie goodie yum yum! (via coisas do arco da velha - some images nsfw)
Russell Brand talks to Dawn French about comedy, revealing a peculiar and compelling intelligence apparently gleaned from TV and substance abuse. Part 1, 2, 3, 4 [YT]
Bigipedia--it's like listening to Wikipedia on the radio--is also available on the web (for those of you whose radios do not support multiple-voice broadcasts).
The BBC has a new sketch show, called Wrong Door. It's very heavy on CGI - indeed, the official blurb calls it 'a parallel world where the effects you see in TV and movies are real'. And it's funny - check out the trailers on YouTube. And it has Brian Blessed and a spaceship shaped like a giant silver cock and balls. Really, what's not to love? But the best bit isn't in the show, [more inside]
The Goon Show was a popular and influential radio comedy produced by the BBC from 1951 - 1960, starring Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe. Here, you can listen to it whenever you like. [more inside]
For the past 50 years, The British have made some of the funniest Comedy TV Shows. Come inside for A Video Chronology of The History of British TV Comedy. [more inside]
Ronnie Hazlehurst RIP. Who? Well if you've seen any of the BBC's sitcoms and light entertainment programmes from the 70s onwards, you would have probably heard his work... [more inside]
Heil Honey, I'm Home! Somewhere in suburbia, Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun live next door to a Jewish couple in this curious artifact from the BBC. The curiosity was canceled after one episode, for reasons somewhere between quality and taste, but now you can see it for yourself.
Look Around You is an insanely funny BBC parody of 1970's educational programs filled with pure nonsensical lies clothed as facts & pitch perfect mimicry of the style of governmental approved childrens education television. Each of the entire first season's worth of 8 10-minute episodes can be viewed here and is highly recommended.
British comedian Linda Smith dies of cancer. Linda Smith, president of the Humanist society and a regular on BBC Radio 4's flagship comedy shows such as The News Quiz and Just A Minute, plus her own A Brief History of Timewasting, her wonderfully deadpan style and the ability to transform moaning into an art form will be missed by many.
And of course we'll keep you notified about that story as soon as we get any. But now. Still to come. A round-up of our reminders of all the news still to come so far. All that still to come. But first. Coming up next. [mostly RealMedia]
BBC Seeks Crackpot Inventors: Dave Gorman, of Googlewhack fame, seems to be fashioning himself into the first techno-comedian. His latest project for BBC Radio 4, entitled , seeks wacky inventions and world-shattering solutions from you. Sort of a reality radio version of half bakery or roundtuit.
Listen Up! It's a 'Synthesizor' masterclass. And after this, if you still think you know about music, then take the pop quiz and be amazed.
When Good Things Go American. Fans of The Office on the BBC may feel a redundacy after watching the NBC pilot.
Peep Show. Ah, now that's lurid-sounding. What it is, however, is a comedy from BBC that's way, way funnier than The Office. Reviewers chatter about the Herman's Head-like gimmick -- you hear the characters' thoughts -- but the better gimmick? Excellent writing.
The recent post that revived the rude ‘Rainbow’ kids show sketch reminded me of the our (that is, British) obsession with comic double entendre - the ability to accept the filthiest things as long as there is a parallel innocuous interpretation. I think it is something to do our love for wordplay and subtext, our innate hypocrisy and the belief that sex is, in fact, rather naughty. Perhaps the prime example are the Julian and Sandy sketches that ran on the BBC Radio show ‘Beyond Our Ken’ from 1964-69. Over Sunday lunch, millions (there was ONLY the BBC in those days) listened to two very camp characters saying outrageous things in Polari (underground gay slang). A much earlier prime example is the great dirty joke (it’s the one in blue at the bottom of the page) that got comedian Max Miller (died in 1963) banned from the BBC for 5 years. A more recent case of innuendo is, of course, Mrs. Slocombe’s pussy. Of course the double entendre can also be unintentional.
A bit late, but I found the first new episode of Absolutely Fabulous to be fairly lackluster. Seemed forced and disjointed. Should Jennifer Saunders have left well enough alone?
Goodie goodie yum yum! Why, O why has the only worthwhile cultural product of the late 20th century been so cruelly ignored? The Goodies made a man out me. And they made a man out of my wife. They rule OK. What brain-warping TV is their equal now?