Sunday, December 21, 2008

B.A.D. Radio (GWR Bath)

B.A.D. Radio, the first in a series of occasional sketch shows written and performed by myself, Roop Jones and Tom Bowker, will be going out on GWR Bath (103FM) this Wednesday (that's Christmas Eve!) at 9.30am.

Of course, you don't even have to be in Bath to catch the show - You can Listen Live via the GWR Bath website!

Roop and Tom were, of course, Breakfast Show presenters at the short-lived XFM South Wales (where I worked as producer), so those of you in South Wales who remember what was on 106.8 and 107.3 before Nation Radio came along can tune in and pretend it's an early morning in the spring of 2008, as the old gang get back together.

In addition to this historic reunion, it is also an emotional moment for myself as it marks the first time I have been on FM in the Bath area since the University's student station (1449AM URB) embarked on 2 weeks of FM transmissions in the spring of 2003.

That kicked off with a fondly remembered live performance from The Cheeky Girls, who abandoned their set prematurely after successfully negotiating their way through "The Cheeky Song", "The Cheeky Song (Remix)" and The Cheeky Dance Competition (to the tune of "The Cheeky Song").

I can't remember quite what caused them to halt the performance of their second single after just one verse, but I think we'd all seen the track we'd paid our £2 entry fee for (as their Cheeky-Song based set list would concur).

In stark contrast, I can assure you that no-one's bum was touched in the making of B.A.D. Radio.

Happy Christmas!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Things I'm in, have helped with, made or like...

Thanks for popping by. I've been involved in a few bits and bobs dotted about the iPlayer which you might want to catch before they drop off...

Listen Against is still on BBC Radio 4. If you head to the iPlayer now you'll catch Episode 3 (I did the Boris Johnson and Radio Wales bits), right up until 6.30pm on Tuesday, when it'll turn into Episode 4 (I don't know what of mine has made it into this... I haven't heard it yet!).

I've also just been told that Play And Record is being repeated on BBC Radio 7. The episode currently on iPlayer includes me battling with an uncooperative Terry Wogan.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been producing the second series of Jest A Minute, a panel game for BBC Radio Wales hosted by Rhod Gilbert with team captains Chris Corcoran and Lloyd Langford. Episode 1 is on iPlayer now and the shows go out on Sundays at 2pm, and are repeated on Saturdays at 1pm.

That's all for now!

Good Morning Dillydale (A Recommendation)

Generally, I don't tend to use this blog to recommend stuff.

I've got it into my head that anyone who has bothered to find this site will be, broadly speaking, on the same page as myself culturally. Spending time recommending people go and see Daniel Kitson, buy the new Death Cab For Cutie record or invest in a kids album made by the drummer from Razorlight seems to me a bit like preaching to the converted.

(Actually, maybe the drummer from Razorlight album isn't such an obvious one. You should check it out. A selection of witty children's poems set to music that easily knocks everything Razorlight have ever done into a cocked hat - And all in under 15 minutes too).

However, I have come across one TV show that, due to it's scheduling, may have passed many people by. I have become obsessed, in an entirely unironic way, by "The Mr. Men Show" (Five, Cartoon Network, YouTube).

(There's a good example of the UK version here. When searching, make sure you add "UK" as you get a more familiar selection of regional accents!)

I once read an interview with the writers of Father Ted, who explained that the joy of introducing characters who are priests is that you immediately have certain expectations of them. You know their job, that they should believe in God, that they should be celibate etc. etc. The Mr. Men show uses a startlingly similar mechanic for an audience of under 5s.

It's a sketch show featuring the Mr. Men and Little Miss characters. Not all of them, obviously. There are nearly 80 in the original books and the episodes are only 10minutes long. Getting through that many brightly coloured shapes in such a short period of time would surely fail that epilepsy test they do on kids telly shows.

Each show contains sketches and songs on a certain theme: cookery, doctors, mowing the lawn, celebrating your country's national day... All the familiar comedy staples, but because you're dealing with such a recognisable group of characters, as soon as you see them, or hear the name mentioned, you know exactly what to expect... When Mr. Happy says "Oh look, here comes our waiter now", and Mr. Bump approaches on roller skates, you know it's going to end in disaster. When Mr. Pernickety introduces his cookery lessons, you're waiting for Mr. Messy to walk into shot.

But there are some real strokes of genius. Mr. Happy has become a slimy game-show host and co-presenter of "Good Morning Dillydale" forming a hideously cheery "Richard and Judy" partnership with Little Miss Sunshine. Mr. Messy has opened a Pizza Emporium and Little Miss Naughty a restaurant. You start to wonder what the Dillydale careers office was up to...

The real joy of The Mr. Men Show is that it solves the greatest problem with the Mr. Men books. Until now, the Mr. Men characters have felt disposable. A character is invented, we follow a short tale where their name and characteristic is either challenged or re-affirmed, we never hear from them again. By stripping back the numbers, letting them all live in the same town and fleshing out the character traits properly, they've made a comedy programme for the under 5s better than most adult sketch shows.

Oh yeah, and they look different, too. Get ready for that. It's a bit weird at first.

(Addendum: Apparently, in Series 2 a new character called "Mr. Green", who teaches children environmental issues, will be voiced by Jamie Oliver. I may have spoken to soon).