Christmas counter

Monday, 8 November 2010

It's not *all* television, you know...

Radio also plays its part at Christmas - some of the best live radio is done on the overnight shifts during Christmas and New Year. Or at least it was back in the '80s.

Picture the scene... BBC Radio 1, 1980-something - well before the big 1989/1990 shake-up which turned it from the most popular station in the country to something a little more youth-orientated. These are the times of Simon Bates, Steve Wright, Gary Davies, and of course DLT - Dave Lee Travis. The relief DJ at the time was Adrian Juste, who also did a comedy clips show every Saturday. Saturdays for me would start with Saturday Superstore or Going Live on BBC1 before switching over to Adrian Juste's Radio 1 show.

Now this was the 80s... the comedy which reached the primetime airwaves wasn't exactly cutting edge - if you were lucky, you'd get some Jack Dee, but it was mainly '50s/'60s/'70s vintage, such as Kenneth Williams and Les Dawson. But come Christmas, Adrian Juste also had a four-hour graveyard slot Christmas and New Years Eve, I think running from 10pm to 2am.

Well after the watershed.

I don't remember if it was live (probably not), but the extended show allowed for some original sketches to be written and performed, leading to material which was a little edgier. Edgier for a teenager, that is - this stuff leaned more towards early The Mary Whitehouse Experience rather than anything sharper, but teenaged me loved it.

Fast-forward a decade or two and suddenly the sharper comedy is the mainstream, and Radio 4's comedy line-up contains a good cross-section of what's available. Listen Again on the BBC website is a wonderful invention. Ironically, it's the longest-running show which is pushing the primetime boundaries - "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue" has some very rude (and sometimes quite graphic!) jokes, especially the tales of their scorer, Samantha. Then, in 2003, they did a Christmas extended special, their take on A Christmas Carol. It featured comics from the current scene, plus the four stalwarts who date back to the '60s. The mix of current material and legendary performers was a hit with me - give it a whirl...

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