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British Comedy on the Radio

Britain has produced some of the best radio comedy in the world. On this page, we look at a small sample of classic comedy shows as chosen by the team at Radio and Telly.

The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Arthur Dent and Ford PrefectFirst appearing on BBC Radio, this Science Fiction comedy from the pen of (the sadly departed) Douglas Adams, spawned five books, a TV series, a computer game, and towels! Phrases from Hitchhikers have passed into everyday life, it’s oft-quoted, and the number 42 achieved universal recognition as a result of this series.

2005 was the Year of the Guide, with the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Film in April 2005 and the radio series in May 2005.

See this site’s Hitch-Hikers Guide page

Radio Active Superb BBC Radio comedy, that later became KYTV on BBC TV. Starred Angus Deayton (Mike Channel), Geoffrey Perkins (Mike Flex), Helen Atkinson-Wood (Anna Daptor), Philip Pope (Nigel Pry) and Michael Fenton-Stevens (Martin Brown and Uncle Mike Stand).

See this site’s Radio Active page and our Radio Active Forum

Knowing Me, Knowing You Alan Partridge in fine form. Most of us have seen (and cringed at) the TV series, but have you heard the Radio 4 series? If not, get the cassettes. They contain six episodes of the BBC radio chat show aired way before Alan made it to telly. In my opinion, much better than the TV series. Click for details of the BBC Radio 4 series on cassette, or the BBC TV series on video.

See this site’s Alan Partridge page

Yes, Minister Humphey, Bernard and JimReportedly Margaret Thatcher’s favourite comedy, Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister follow the Right Hon. James Hacker (Paul Eddington) as he climbs up the political greasy pole, helped by Private Secretary Bernard Woolley (Derek Fowlds), but mostly hindered by Sir Humphrey Appleby (Nigel Hawthorne). Wonderful office politics and a glimpse at what most go on behind closed doors at Whitehall.

Sharpen your political antennae by getting hold of a copy of the BBC radio series on cassette, as well as the TV series. The range of versions can be bought online at BBC Shop.com

Nebulous A quirky little sci-fi comedy found on Radio 4 in 2005 – Set in a post-‘withering’ 2099, the team from the Key Environmental Non-judgemental Taskforce (a.k.a KENT) set about troubleshooting, under the control of Professor Nebulous (the man responsible for the Isle of Wight disaster).

Series 3 began it’s run in Hamble 2008, thank Bod… If you’ve heard of it, stop by our forum?

On The Blog First appearing in 2007 on BBC Radio 2, this 30 minute show follows the online life of Andrew Glasgow as he sets up his first blog. On The Blog caught our attention, even though tucked away on Radio 2, because of its clever use of audio to represent the output of Andrew’s computer – highlighting the frustrations that many of us face – spam, IT problems, phishing, blogging and comments. Targets include spoof website names ebuy, myface and shopping site congo.

More on our On the Blog page.

Dirk Gently Everyone’s heard of Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy… but what about Douglas Adams’ other creation? Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency finally became realised in 2007, appearing in October 2007 on BBC Radio 4 – More on our Dirk Gently page.
More Comedy? BBC 7 logoIf you’re into radio comedy, you’ll want to check out BBC Radio 4 Extra – the station dedicated to comedy and drama. The station, formerly known as BBC Radio 7 runs classics such as The Goons, Dad’s Army and Round The Horne, plus most of the series mentioned on this page.

BBC Radio 4 Extra is one of the BBC Digital Radio channels, and it’s available on DAB, Freeview and satellite TV. This site contains details on how to tune in to BBC Radio 4 Extra.

 

Getting hold of classic radio comedy…

CD and Cassette:

  • Good old Auntie Beeb has produced pretty much all of the best audio comedy around, and the BBC Audio Collection series contains great episodes of old favourites including Round the Horne, Dad’s Army, Steptoe and Son, The Goon Show, Hancocks’s Half Hour, Spike Milligan, The Navy Lark, Just a Minute, I’m Sorry I’ll Read that Again, Porridge and Yes Minister. Go to the BBC Shop and see what they have to offer. You can also find much of their collection on Amazon.co.uk.

Comedy downloads:

  • Take a look at Audible.co.uk – They have a large collection of comedy and audio books available for download for your PC or MP3 player

Audible for a huge comedy collection

On air:

  • It’s also worth keeping an ear on BBC’s digital station, BBC Radio 4 Extra for their classic comedy

Having no luck? Try asking in our UK Radio Comedy forum

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