The first programmes commissioned for BBC Radio 4 by the network’s new Comedy Editor Sioned William have been announced.
There is a mixture of brand new voices, household names and some returning series.
Sioned says: “I am delighted to reveal my first round of comedy commissions. It’s a real joy to be able to bring this astounding range of writers and performers to the millions of Radio 4 listeners who tune in every week. My slate includes exciting new voices as well as some of the luminaries of the comedy world. Radio 4 has a long tradition of giving comedians the creative freedom to try out fresh ideas in front of a captivated audience and I have been so impressed with the quality and originality of the programmes. I can’t wait for them to make it to the airwaves from this summer.”
Comedians who are getting their first Radio 4 series include Sam Simmons who in 2015 won the Fosters Edinburgh Comedy Award for Best Show and the ‘Barry’ award for best show at the Melbourne International Comedy festival. Sam Simmons Is Not A People Person finds the Aussie clown trying to get away from it all, searching for rare birds in exotic locations – but no matter how far he travels he can’t escape his own thoughts.
Sam says: “I’m very excited to be let loose on BBC Radio 4! And I can’t wait for the opportunity to crawl inside your hearts and holes (ear holes). Hopefully this should sound like a mid-life crisis filtered through the mind of a bird-obsessed maniac as he whinges around the globe in search of feathery solace.”
Mae Martin will explore the millennial generation’s sexual revolution which is transforming how society perceives sex and gender – all through the lens of her own unique upbringing – in Mae Martin’s Guide To 21st Century Sexuality.
Mae says: “Holy moly. I’m too excited and thrilled about recording my show for Radio 4. It’s a four-episode show about sexuality. I keep waking up in a cold sweat about it, that’s excitement right? My parents have told all their friends so I hope the BBC doesn’t change its mind.”
In Alexei Sayle’s Imaginary Sandwich Bar one of the country’s true comedy legends returns to the BBC with a new stand-up and storytelling show.
Alexei says: “For years I have been telling people falsely that I run a sandwich bar, now thanks to BBC Radio 4 I have the exciting and thrilling opportunity to make my sandwich bar real – except it will still be imaginary. Alexei Sayle’s Imaginary Sandwich Bar will be the kind of show that the abbreviation WTF was invented for.”
Following A Beginner’s Guide To Pakistan last year, Aditi Mittal flies in from Mumbai to present A Beginner’s Guide To India, to let us know about actual Indian history, and how actual Indians actually feel about it. Aditi is one of Forbes India’s ‘Thirty Under 30’, and one of the Times Of India’s Top Ten Comics.
Tez Ilyas is a comic from Blackburn who played Edinburgh last year. ‘Tez Talks’ sees him giving an extremely timely and topical guide to being a British Muslim – a show which couldn’t be any more of the moment.
Tez says: “As a massive fan of Radio 4, I can’t wait to develop TEZ Talks into a series for a whole new audience of Tezbians!”
Sarah Kendall – Australian Trilogy will bring Sarah’s series of funny and moving stories to Radio 4, taking listeners on a trip, giving them a unique snapshot of small-time life in Australia in the early 90s.
Since Henry Normal last had his own show on Radio 4 in 1994, he’s been a writer (The Royle Family) and a producer (Gavin & Stacey), and run one production company Baby Cow. He returns to live performance for the first time in 20 years with A Normal Family, about his “mildly severely” autistic son, Johnny.
A new show from Tim Vine will see Tim interview members of his live audience as he embarks on a quest to hear the life stories of the Great British public, while simultaneously showcasing his trademark wordplay and preposterous songs.
Tim says: “I’m very excited to be interviewing members of the Great British public on Radio 4. The time for interviewing celebrities is over. Let’s find out what everyone else is thinking. (I’m going to do jokes as well).”
In Dr John Cooper Clarke At The BBC the Bard of Salford will regale listeners with stories, jokes and excerpts from his world class back catalogue of poetry.
Rich Hall’s (US Election) Breakdown will see Rich Hall joined by a selection of comedians from both sides of the Atlantic guide us through the chaotic circus that is the US Presidential election.
Sandi Toksvig returns to Radio 4 with a series that sees her taking bus rides with comedy chums in Sandi’s Ticket To Ride.
Sketch group Daphne will bring their brand of Goon Show-esque comedy to the airwaves in Daphne Sounds Expensive.
Rumbunch stars Justin Edwards, Mel Giedroyc and Dave Mounfield in a live audience gang show coming soon to a fictional town near you. Each week the trio will do their upmost to hold together a chaotic array of sketches and musical comedy, ably assisted by a special guest and a disgruntled house band.
David Jason stars in a new David Renwick radio comedy show, Desolation Jests, featuring quirky sketches in a variety of styles framed in a dark, surreal and joke-filled faux interview format.
David Jason says: “I am delighted to be able to say that we will be giving the Radio 4 audience some comic gems from the pen of the great David Renwick who fortunately has not got One Foot in the Grave. There is more to Renwick than Victor Meldrew and we’ll be there to prove it.”
The maths, science and comedy trio Festival Of The Spoken Nerd look around the domestic landscape for inspiration and gives a bite size blast of science to make sense of it all in Domestic Science.
And continuing in the scientific vein, Rob Newman will bring his Entirely Accurate Map Of The Brain, a subversive challenge to notions of neuroscience that will lift the lid on the incredible world inside our heads.
Lemn Sissay’s last Radio 4 show, Homecoming, was nominated for a Rose d’Or; he returns with Lemn Sissay’s Origin Stories, a four-part series about famous orphans and foster children literature, from Oliver Twist to Harry Potter, which looks back at incidents from his childhood of care homes and fostering, comparing how he behaved to how notable fictional figures behaved in their fictional worlds.
With nearly 50 percent of marriages ending in divorce, there are countless families trying to negotiate a practical way forward. In Cracking Up we meet Spencer Pandy, a psychotherapist who thinks he has the answer, if only his ex-wife and kids would listen.
Simon Evans Goes To Market is back with another four doses of Jokenomics – or is it Economedy? Having looked at commodities in the first and legal addictions in the second, this time he finds the funny money in births, marriages and deaths.
A number of shows are getting a second series, among them double-act The Pin. In their highly acclaimed show, Alex and Ben deconstruct the boundary between them and the listener, revealing the twisted logic behind their skewed approach to comedy. The hugely-praised first series got celebrity-comedy plaudits from the likes of David Walliams and Ben Stiller – the next series is set to be even better.
Two female-written sitcoms which Radio 4 will be revisiting for series two, include Katherine Jakeways’ sitcom All Those Women; and To Hull And Back starring Lucy Beaumont and Maureen Lipman. In Alex Edelman’s Peer Group, the American returns with a stand-up series exploring Generation Y, fighting back against its reputation as a group of cheap, lazy, smart-phone bandying, online-dating, tradition-flouting narcissists – a rather unfair criticism, as really only some of this is true.
There is a second series also for John Finnemore’s Double Acts, Morwenna Banks and Rebecca Front’s Shush!, Reluctant Persuaders which just won Best Scripted Comedy with a Live Audience at the BBC Audio Drama Awards, Kayvan Novak’s The Celebrity Voicemail Show, Big Problems With Helen Keen, Susan Calman’s Sisters, further audio madness from Terry Alderton More Crazy Now, The Absolutely Radio Show, The Casebook of Max and Ivan, Hal, The Price of Happiness, Deborah Frances-White Rolls The Dice, John Shuttleworth’s Lounge Music.
Alongside all of the above is a number of returning Radio 4 stalwarts such as Count Arthur Strong, Gloomsbury, Meet David Sedaris, Ayres On The Air, Ed Reardon’s Week, Believe It, The Brig Society, Tom Wrigglesworth’s Hang Ups, The Museum Of Curiosity, The Stanley Baxter Playhouse and a third series of Steven K Amos’s What Does The K Stand For?