Friday, 30 March 2018

John Finnemore's Flying Visit.

17th May - Brighton - Brighton Dome
18th May - High Wycombe - Wycombe Swan
20th May - Hastings - White Rock Theatre
21st May - Preston - Guild Hall 
22nd May - York - Grand Opera House
26th May - Cheltenham - Cheltenham Town Hall
30th May - Birmingham - New Alexandra Theatre
3rd June - Richmond - Richmond Theatre SOLD OUT
3rd June - Richmond Extra Matinee Date
6th June - Swindon - Wyvern Theatre
7th June - Leamington Spa - Royal Spa Centre
8th June - Tunbridge Wells - Assembly Hall Theatre
10th June - Dorking - Dorking Halls
13th June - Basingstoke - Basingstoke Anvil
15th June - Edinburgh - The Queen's Hall SOLD OUT




Update: Hooray, Richmond sold out, so we're putting in an extra Matinee there! Be warned - and I promise this isn't just hype - several of the other dates are almost sold out too.

Update to the update: Edinburgh's sold out now, too. I think Leamington and possibly Basingstoke will do soon as well, in case that's useful to know.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Entente Cordiale

Today, it is my job to take a brass tin of sweets to a group of crossword setters in Paris. Just as my careers advisor predicted. He was very good at his job.


Here is a small and silly puzzle I made for the occasion, presented in the form of a square of chocolate, a tube of Love Hearts, and three M&Ms. The solution is in the first comment.






Friday, 9 March 2018

John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme - Complete Sketch List

Ok, first of all, here are the ticket links for my tour again, just to keep them at the top of this site. There are still tickets left for all dates at the moment, though not all that many for some.

17th May - Brighton - Brighton Dome
18th May - High Wycombe - Wycombe Swan
20th May - Hastings - White Rock Theatre
21st May - Preston - Guild Hall 
22nd May - York - Grand Opera House
26th May - Cheltenham - Cheltenham Town Hall
30th May - Birmingham - New Alexandra Theatre
3rd June - Richmond - Richmond Theatre
6th June - Swindon - Wyvern Theatre
7th June - Leamington Spa - Royal Spa Centre
8th June - Tunbridge Wells - Assembly Hall Theatre
10th June - Dorking - Dorking Halls
13th June - Basingstoke - Basingstoke Anvil
15th June - Edinburgh - The Queen's Hall

Thank you very much to everyone who's suggested sketches they'd like to see on stage - it's really useful.  But I realised if a sketch got a few nominations, I couldn't tell whether it was genuinely popular, or whether it was just that the first mention reminded other people it existed. So... in an attempt to create a level playing field, here's something I've been meaning to do for a while anyway: a big old list of every sketch in all seven series of Souvenir Programme.

These aren't always the original titles - I've tried to make them recognisable, and where they still aren't, I've put a key word or phrase in brackets. Do carry on leaving nominations in the comments!


SERIES ONE



Episode One

Mr Frint - No Job Too Big
Three Guards (Tiger with a gun)
Interview Sketch - Before You're Thirty (Be kind, have fun)
To Re-record Your Message
Pooh's Indebevention
I Speak As I Find
The Noise of the Tardis
Jamaica Quickie
Since You Ask Me - Ghost Story (Jacket pocket jacket pocket)

Episode Two

Three Little Pigs
Cat-Nav I
The Interview Sketch - Evolutionist (Hummingbirds)
Voltaire
Cat-Nav II
Song - Ballad 404 ('Where have they gone...')
The Archers Accidentally I ('...if it turns out I own this pub')
Hunger Quickie
Cat-Nav III
Since You Ask Me - Family Curse (Wim-Bim-King-Sim-Sham)

Episode Three

After the Exam (Sealion in a little hat)
Snow Leopards I
Little Trophy
Drunken Sailor Court Martial
Snow Leopards II
National Debate
Jekyll and Hyde
I Thought So (Over-analytical)
Snow Leopards III
Since You Ask Me - Murder Mystery (Turbot Bacardi)

Episode Four

Reme
The Seance
Song - Zoo Song I - Meerkats
Old Spies (Thompson Pulse)
Pampering (Pat me dry with a little baby duckling)
Song - Zoo Song II - Penguins
The Emperor's New Clothes
Song - Zoo Song III - Gnus
Since You Ask Me - Treasure Island (Polly wants a bison)

Episode Five (Edinburgh Special)

The Silent Majority I - Speed Cameras, Language
The Quest
The Grasshopper and the Ants
The Interview Sketch - Athlete (Fastest tricyclist in the world)
Architect Briefing
Civil War (Cat people and dog people)
Cheer Up
Since You Ask Me - Edinburgh (Thumb-snatchers)

SERIES TWO



Episode One

Not Violent
Audioguide for 5-Year-Olds 1
Sun and Moon
Good News Quickie
Wisdom of Solomon
Audioguide II
Stoppable- The Tram Story
Ugly Duck
The Negotiation ('...I thought we paid you?')
Your Decision (Patrick or Trevor)
Audioguide III
Since You Ask Me - Train Adventure ('You are Uncles by trade?')

Episode Two

Cuckoos
Call Us Now I - Cold
The Archers Accidentally II ('One of the men who aways sound tired')
Romantic Gestures
Call Us Now II - Bored at work
New Supervisor
Song - My Dog Doesn't Know He's Ugly
Difficult Second Theorem
Mr. Frint - Your New Cinema
The Interview Sketch - Actor (Bumper-Offer)
Call Us Now III - Movies
Since You Ask Me - Christmas (Rufus the magic lion)

Episode Three

Lisa and K
Gone Funny On Me - Churchill
Don't Shoot the Messenger ('We've got out of sync')
Nobody Knows I
Vulture Interview
Gone Funny On Me - Kennedy
Making Money
Nobody Knows II
Criss Cross
Gone Funny On Me - Juliet
Since You Ask Me - Ghost Story (Eagling)

Episode Four

Blind Horse ('I can't tell you your job is safe')
Interesting Theory - Macbeth
Sitcom Character I - Standing Right Behind Me
Security Code
Queen's Knight
Song - Insomnia
Sitcom Character II - Donkey Rides
Interesting Theory - Maths
The Goldfish and King Neptune
Since You Ask Me - Walpurgisnacht
Sitcom Character Coda

Episode Five

Moths
Supermongers I
Mr. Frint - Awesome
Famous Five Reunion
Supermongers II
Prawn Casserole (Elbow room)
Elephantine Castle
I Don't Take No For An Answer
Supermongers III
Southend Pier
Since You Ask Me - Fisherman's Cottage

Episode Six

Silent Majority - Language
Crufts
Spoilers I
Herod's Strategy
Quizzer
Spoilers II
New Police Powers
Silent Majority - Recycling
Pair Up ('Find someone of the opposite height')
Spoilers III
Silent Majority - Immigration
Song - Captain Dinosaur
Since You Ask Me - Credits

SERIES THREE



Episode One

Campaign For Real Pub Chat
Sponsored Holiday
Caller ID
Towels ('Towels on the bed mean Sleepy Towels')
Mr Frint - Iconic
Hearing Test ('Don't press the button')
Two Man Show
Song - Spiny Porcupine
Help Quickie
Mr Frint - Vibrant
Rat Sanctuary
Will The Train Manager Contact The Driver
Mr Frint - Literally
Afternoon Drama - Lucy's Complex Dilemma

Episode Two

Be Sure Your Sins Will Find You Out
New Friend (Sniffer dog)
The Gilgamesh Experiment I (F. Ronald Huggerman)
A History of Choice
House Sitter
The Gilgamesh Experiment II
Flow Chart
The Interview Sketch - Ice Cream Van Painter
Voice In My Head - Grande
The Gilgamesh Experiment III
Since You Ask Me - Typhoon

Episode Three

Painting The Sun
RNLI Interview
Reunited
Gangsters
Inner Toddler - Squash
Song - Carmela Vitale
Attention Citizens
Roman Baths
Saul's New Name
Normal Man
What's What (Pandas have rejoined the bears)
Inner Toddler - My Cup
Unspoiled (Korea)
Family Reunion ('Great-great-great-great-great-grandfather!')

Episode Four

Goats and Daffodils
Archers Accidentally III ('The rhythmic thumping of the wooden objects')
Fairy Shop I
Entering Troy
Interview Sketch - Art Historian ('Too many tentacles on the giant squid?')
Dealing With Bullies
Sheriff of Nottingham
Fairy Shop II
Life Class (Too rude)
No Further Questions

Episode Five

Horse Box
Anecdotes - Rubinstein
The Bagsie Tribunal
Comedian Interview
Anecdotes - Churchill
Your Belongings
3D Printer
Anecdotes - Parker
Hibernomnia
Gunpowder Plot
Anecdotes - Wilde
Since You Ask Me - Noir (Alabaster Tortoise)

Episode Six

Stamp Collector
Niceness Tourette's
The Interview Sketch - Accountant Creatif
Basking Sharks I
Specimens
Heaven's Gate (No chocolate in heaven)
Expert Witness
Basking Sharks II
Go East
Matter of Taste (Olives and bananas)
Song - Red Trousers


SERIES FOUR



Episode One

Teaching Aid
Bodyguards I
Live to Tell the Tale ('Threw me back')
World Championships of Snap
Bodyguards II
Song - Three Monkeys
Voting
Sisyphus
Pound Shop
Bodyguards III
Since You Ask Me - Duel

Episode Two

Turning Round a Tanker
Positive Racist
Apology to Belgium
Hotel Check-In (Not a problem)
Watch Advert
Quasimodo
Three Legged Dog
Since You Ask Me - Mysterious Trapdoor
Song - Anthem Pour Les Belges
Apology to Belgium II

Episode Three

Wedding Invite
Negotiating With Genghis I
Sun Gods
Poetry Please
Negotiating With Genghis II
What Did You Think? (Film review)
'Serious' Quickie
Very Special Chair
Negotiating With Genghis III
Since You Ask Me - Tortoise Ranch

Episode Four

Ding Ding Good Morning Sir I
Assembly Speech
Skittles
Ding Ding Good Morning Sir II
Interview Sketch - MP
Ding Ding Good Morning Sir III
Song - My Baby Don't Care
Thomas' New Driver
Ding Ding Good Morning Sir IV
Taxidermist
Since You Ask Me - Love Story

Episode Five

Store Detective I (Casterbridge and Snowman)
Action Stations
The Artefact (Museum of human folly)
Store Detective II
Tombstone Engraver
Store Detective III
Camouflage Seminar
Store Detective IV
Russian Revolution by Email
Since You Ask Me - Quickie

Episode Six

Sooty's a Bear
Whale Translator
Farenheit and Celsius
Handbag
Little Green Men
Song - The Fifth of February
Does Anyone Want Anything?
Tesco Metro
Since You Ask Me - Twisted Science (Dr Kroopenstein)


SERIES FIVE



Episode One

The Capital of Spain
School Slogan
Magic Mirror
Ban Cancer
Song - Even Bluesmen Get the Pinks
PhD Proposal Quickie
Mulligan's Bank
Richard of York
Since You Ask Me - Crossing the Atlantic (Mr. Floofywhiskers)

Episode Two

She Sells Sea Shells
Voice in My Head - Tip Jar
News Coverage
Painting Advice
Chocolate Geek
Heroes of the Titanic
Pavlov's Dogs
Wrong Friend
Since You Ask Me - Spies (A mole in the Zoo)

Episode Three

Dog That Looks Most Like Its Owner
A Friend in Need
Kirates
Interview Sketch - Politician ('Sorriness is being experienced')
Song - Procrastination
Retirement Do (Barbed wire story)
Overrated Moon
Hunter Gatherers
Since You Ask Me - Limericks

Episode Four

Word to the Wise ('His penny whistle is not worth fourpence')
Talking to Strangers I - Tall
Tattoo
Sports Day (Sodom and Gomorrah)
Talking to Strangers II - Famous
Papal Conclave (Jamelia)
Mocking Christianity
Talking To Strangers III - Beautiful
Since You Ask Me - Deaduncle Hall (Throwing doughnuts to the wolves)

Episode Five

Dancing Lessons
Schmoogle
Song - Serving Suggestion (Put it on a plate)
Lawry's Bit I
Mulligan's Donkey Sanctuary
Lawry's Bit II
Middle Age
Ranjit
Lawry's Bit III
Since You Ask Me - Denouement Parlour

Episode Six

Train Delay I
Nice Cop Nasty Cop
Other Offences
Song - Cerberus
Other Interests
Train Delay II
The Most Self-Indulgent Sketch in the World
Since You Ask Me - Robot Queen Victoria


SERIES SIX



Episode One - Christmas Special

John Mulligan's Advert
Good King Wenceslas
Exit Polls I
Runner Up (Holly and Ivy)
Song - December 27th
Exit Polls II
Baby's First Christmas
Eyewitness (Night Before Christmas)
Father Ramadan
Exit Polls III
Since You Ask Me - Nativity

Episode Two

Kissing Protocol
Phone Number (0-7-7-3482293.....5)
Evil Voices (Save the Children)
Just What I Wanted (Grail)
Self-Driving Cars
Stand Up - Bright Ideas
Waterloo Reenactment
Best Child

Episode Three

Parrot Fashion
Bad Copper
One Hit Wonder (Pachelbel)
Shirts
Sorting Depot (Teeth)
The Thing About Me
Behind Closed Doors - Bouncy Castle
The Arrest
Song - Loose Canon
Since You Ask Me - Haiku

Episode Four

St. Ives
So-Called Fire Brigade
New Kitchen Floor
Socrates' Worst Idea
Eulogy For a Man in the Right
President's Two Speeches
House on Fire
The Archers Accidentally IV
Since You Ask Me - Proposal

Episode Five

David Starkey
Tufty (Wolverine)
Open Letters
Designing the Snake
What's He Like?
But a Man
Behind Closed Doors - Ferry
King James
Song - Truckstops
Since You Ask Me - Fortune Teller

Episode Six

Is There a Doctor on Board?
Pet Tips I
You'll Set Me Off
Pet Tips II - Tortoises
Which of These Cats Is Bigger Than The Other One?
Pet Tips III - Cats
Celeriac Awareness
Pet Tips IV - Stick Insects
Guest Spots
Missed Connections
Since You Ask Me - The Musical

SERIES SEVEN



Episode One

Getting Feedback (Freud)
The Death of Nelson
Past Lives
Starting a New Baby
Kim's Poem
Interview Sketch - Gnu
Song - Stop Saying Gnus
Stand Up - Clickbait
The Woods (Not a picnic)
Since You Ask Me - Biscuits

Episode Two

Otter Sanctuary
Crime Scene (Single live butterfly)
Interview Sketch - Authentic Shakespeare Company
Mulligan's Auto-Citer
Wedding Venue (Magic organ)
How She'll Be Coming (When she comes)
Not My Turn
Spooktacular
Since You Ask Me - The Mission

Episode Three

Huge Favour
Have We Met?
Acceptance Speech
Bucket List
Bwoorp
The Wisdom of Uncle Matt
Interview Sketch - Owl
MacDuff
Research Help (Winchester)
Ninth Labour
Arse-Covering Meta Sketch
Since You Ask Me - Fight

Episode Four

Bet You I Crash It
New Player Tutorial
The Godivas
Song - Moral Maze
Interview Sketch - Mayfly
Planning to Meet Up
Stand Up - Taps
Johnson and Boswell
Since You Ask Me - Western

Episode Five

Caesar's Last Words
Voice In My Head - Carcassonne
Animal Designers Crisis
Grains of Rice
Interview Sketch - Centaur
George and the Dragon
Animals and Kings
Sunset
Leaving a Funeral
De-sensitised Crows
One Question Time to the Tune of Another
Since You Ask Me - Card Trick

Episode Six

The Plan
Sponsored Leopard
The Weather
Song - The Terrible Leaving Do of 2017
Memory Technique
A Cake in the Shape of a Cake
Interview Sketch - Linguist
JFSP Accidentally
Since You Ask Me - The Heist

























Wednesday, 21 February 2018

New tour date!

Good news! I'm absolutely delighted to say that, in response to many people here and on Twitter quite rightly pointing out my tour was giving the North West an unreasonably wide berth, we've been able to add an extra date, and will also be coming to.... Preston!

We now go live to the people of Preston for their reaction:



Thank you, Preston.

Specifically, we're coming to the Preston Guild Hall, on the 21st May

Which means the full list of tour dates and ticket links is....

17th May - Brighton - Brighton Dome (Tickets go on sale on Friday)
18th May - High Wycombe - Wycombe Swan
20th May - Hastings - White Rock Theatre
21st May - Preston - Guild Hall 
22nd May - York - Grand Opera House
26th May - Cheltenham - Cheltenham Town Hall
30th May - Birmingham - New Alexandra Theatre
3rd June - Richmond - Richmond Theatre
6th June - Swindon - Wyvern Theatre
7th June - Leamington Spa - Royal Spa Centre
8th June - Tunbridge Wells - Assembly Hall Theatre
10th June - Dorking - Dorking Halls
13th June - Basingstoke - Basingstoke Anvil
15th June - Edinburgh - The Queen's Hall

Come and see us! And, if you have any suggestions for sketches or songs from Souvenir Programme you would particularly like to see on stage, do let me know in the comments. I'm trying to persuade Carrie we should do Elephant and Castle, so that every night she'll have to dress up as an elephant, put on a suit of armour, and slowly fall down a massive staircase. She seems unconvinced...


Thursday, 8 February 2018

John Finnemore's Flying Visit

For two days, the whole new series of Souvenir Programme is available on BBC iPlayer. After that, they'll drop off one by one, but you still have six weeks to listen to today's episode, which I think might be one of the best we've done...

And after that, if you're not sick of the sound of my stupid voice, why not see how you cope with my stupid face? Because... I'm going on tour!


John Finnemore's Flying Visit is a brand new full length stage show, featuring the entire cast of Souvenir Programme; with sketches, songs, Pet Tips, Since You Ask Me tales, and a guest appearance from Wing Commander Arthur Shappey. We're doing thirteen dates around Britain in May and June, and tickets are either on sale right now, or will be soon. Here's a handy list of dates and ticket lists. Come and see us!

17th May - Brighton - Brighton Dome (Tickets only on sale to the shadowy figures known as 'members' now, but will be on general release on Friday!)
18th May - High Wycombe - Wycombe Swan
20th May - Hastings - White Rock Theatre
21st May - Preston - Guild Hall
22nd May - York - Grand Opera House
26th May - Cheltenham - Cheltenham Town Hall
30th May - Birmingham - New Alexandra Theatre
3rd June - Richmond - Richmond Theatre
6th June - Swindon - Wyvern Theatre
7th June - Leamington Spa - Royal Spa Centre
8th June - Tunbridge Wells - Assembly Hall Theatre
10th June - Dorking - Dorking Halls
13th June - Basingstoke - Basingstoke Anvil
15th June - Edinburgh - The Queen's Hall

All of the above idiots will be involved.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Twenty-Four Things - Thing Fifteen

'Happy' 5th of February! Here's something cheery to take the edge of it...





(Also, check back here on Thursday for An Announcement...)


Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Twenty-Four Things - Thing Fourteen


("Advent"? No, sorry, Guv, can't help you. Never heard of it. I just like the number 24...)

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Twenty-Four Things - Thing Thirteen

Something a little different today. I may replace this with a photo in natural light tomorrow, so you can see what's going on. But for now... it's a book.


Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Twenty-Tour Things - Thing Twelve


Twenty-Four Things - Thing Eleven


Sunday, 10 December 2017

Twenty-Four Things - Thing Ten

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Twenty-Four Things - Thing Nine



A magnificent specimen of the Red Trouser Wearer, seen in the wild at St Pancras Station.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Twenty-Four Things - Thing Eight


Thursday, 7 December 2017

Twenty-Four Things - Thing Seven



Bong.

(For those asking where it is: I'm afraid I made it up. But I cribbed bits from the Cathedrals of Wells, Amiens, Rheims and Exeter. And then I put in some completely unnecessary flying buttresses, because what's the point of doodling a cathedral if you don't get to do flying buttresses?)

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Twenty-Four Things - Thing Six


Bwark.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Twenty-Four Things - Thing Five


This was an experiment in drawing white on black, rather than vice versa. It didn't quite work out, as you see, which is why this is apparently a caricature of the ghost of Michael Caine, rather than the man himself. But I'll have another go sometime.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Twenty-Four Things - Thing Four

One of many, many marginal penguins doodled whilst writing Penguin Diplomacy. This is one of the worst of them - what on earth is going on with his feet? But it's still my favourite, just because of the operatic pose.



Sunday, 3 December 2017

Twenty-Four Things - Thing Three

I apologise for Faraging up your advent so early. But one thing I've discovered this year is the joy of caricaturing people I dislike, and so am not held back by guilt. You'll never guess which public figure taught me this lesson. (I will try to keep him out of this series. But no promises...)

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Twenty-Four Things - Thing Two

Friday, 1 December 2017

Twenty-Four Things - Thing One





Madame Citron.

(Original photo by Marianne Levy)

Saturday, 9 September 2017

I also like how disappointed they look.

Yesterday, I watched the 1941 Leslie Howard film 'Pimpernel Smith', a retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel set in 1939.  I was delighted to find it has what must be at least an extremely early example of a particular type of joke:





That's pretty good, isn't it? Forty years before Ted Stryker met a trombonist in a bar, or Homer Simpson met the Springfield Philharmonic in the woods. Does anyone know of an earlier version? The Goons did it a lot, of course, but not until the '50s. 

I recommend the film, by the way- it's on Netflix at the moment (in Britain, anyway), and has some good jokes in it, and an excellent (and excellently cast and costumed) comedy Nazi. 



- 'No, no, no. Shakespeare is a German. Professor Schußbacher has proved it once and for all.'
- 'Dear me, how very upsetting. Still, you must admit that the English translations are remarkable.'


(I know, I know... I will do the rest of the Double Act blogs eventually. Probably.) 

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Double Acts - The Queen's Speech


Well, I have finally finished writing this series of Double Acts - only five weeks after they started going out -  and so have time to write something about Double Acts. The first of the series, The Queen's Speech, starring Stephanie Cole and Kerry Godliman, is still available on iPlayer for the next five days.




There really was - and is - a short recording of Queen Victoria speaking, which you can hear here. (Skip straight to 1.19 for the most cleaned up version, but don't expect to able to make out much.) 

And it really was made at the end of a demonstration of a newly invented recording machine - not the  phonograph, but the graphophone. For a full account of this demonstration, and the fate of the wax cylinder afterwards, read Paul Tritton's 'The Lost Voice of Queen Victoria'. In it, you will find that there is a (remote) possibility that another cylinder exists, in which Her Majesty Queen Victoria, Empress of India blurts the word 'tomatoes', because someone is pointing at some tomatoes. The grandchildren of the inventor of the graphophone had memories of a different version which they listened to - without much interest - as children. 



Even if it never happened, the idea of a Victorian inventor gravely indicating some tomatoes in the hope of provoking a comment from the Queen seemed like a promising start.

This one was one of the three research-heavy episodes of the series, and a surprising amount of it is true, or based in truth. Victoria really did have what she referred to as 'treats' - performances by conjurors, singers, and even comedians in the afternoons at Balmoral or Osbourne. She really did try to learn Hindustani from her 'Munshi', Abdul Karim; and the phrase she quotes: 'Anda thik ubla nahi hai', meaning (supposedly) 'The egg is not yet boiled' is one of the ones in the pocket-book the Munshi made for her, along with 'The poor boy has a bad pain in his hand', 'The tea is always bad at Osbourne', 'You will miss the Munshi very much' and... 'Hold me tight'. I'm sure there's a perfectly innocent explanation.

Other true bits: Inventors really were a bit at a loss about what possible use a machine that records sound could be, and Mabel's daftest suggestion is lifted straight from the real inventor of the graphophone, Henry Edmonds:





Oh, and Victoria really did both dislike Gladstone, and find him very dull. And perhaps with reason. Here he is writing to her in the year The Queen's Speech is set, trying to say he's glad it didn't rain in Liverpool:


Of course, the moment I began to write Queen Victoria as a character, there was only one actor I wanted to play her. In the first series of Double Acts, producer David and I deliberately chose not to use any of the actors who had appeared in Cabin Pressure (apart from me, obviously), because we wanted it to have a chance to establish itself as its own thing. For the second series, however, we  felt able to abandon that restriction - with great relief - and indeed someone who appeared in C.P. appears in all six episodes. Although one of them is incredibly hard to spot...

So, anyway, we crossed our fingers and asked Stephanie, and thank God she said yes. She's truly wonderful in it. As is Kerry Godliman, one of the very few actors in the world who could hold their own against Stephanie Cole squared by Queen Victoria. Of the shadowy figure who played Gladstone and the Sergeant, though; little is known. I mean, where would I find someone who could do both Victoriana and Shouting...?


A final note on the machine: I am informed that David Tyler, who co-edits the show, as well as producing, directing, and script-editing it (it's basically more his show than mine) never wants to hear another treadle as long as he lives. 









Monday, 30 January 2017

Pain, Nitrogen, and the shops.

From Ascension Island. Do you think their stamps only feature things that ascend? 

Hello, Earth! You have seven days left to hear the glorious, hilarious, moving, peculiar joy that is Time Spanner, by Simon Kane. Plan those days wisely, because you'll want to hear it at least twice. Simon has done many marvellous things, but readers of this blog may know him best from Double Acts (playing Luke in The Goliath Window) and Souvenir Programme (playing The Train Manager, Mr Hyde, Quasimodo, Thomas The Tank Engine, Prof. Daniel Fahrenheit, First Tentacled Creature, Lt-Gen Sir Hugo Hushhh, Rob, Sam, Ed, Ben, Sam, Joe, Rob, Rob, Sam, The Black And White Stripy Jumper I've Had Since School, and the Sun. Among others.)

Anyway, this is the first episode of - paws crossed - the first series of Time Spanner; and it is beautiful and wonderful and bonkers... except it's not bonkers, not really, that's just something people say about things like this, when what they (I) mean is that the author has an imagination, and isn't afraid to use it. I'm in it, playing a dead dog like normal, as are David Mitchell, London Hughes, Belinda Stewart-Wilson and Jeremy Limb.

Simon's been working on it, in one form or another, for at least ten years; and it's been such a pleasure and an education to watch him refine it from a dazzling explosion of ideas and jokes and characters and umbrella-headed monks to this intricate, beautifully plotted half hour with a love story at its heart - without losing any of the wild creativity, great jokes, and frequent poetry that made it so exciting from the start. Truly, a watch made of swans.


Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Quick stop at the ego massage parlour...

I had rather a strange- but lovely- day yesterday, in which first this happened:


...and then later on, this happened:

Yes, I have henchmen now...


So, thank you very much to the British Comedy Guide (and to you, if you voted for us!) and to the Writers' Guild. And of course to Ed, Lawry, Margaret, Carrie and Simon for Souvenir Programme; and to David Tyler, Rebecca Front and Beth Mullen for Double Acts.

 Now, off to buy some new hats. All mine have suddenly got too small.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Souvenir Programme, Series Six, Episode Three

Possibly should have mentioned this before, but Souvenir Programme is back! It's going out at 6:30 on Tuesdays. The first three episodes are available here, and the next three will go up there too in due course.

Random thoughts on today's episode:

The Pachelbel sketches (One Hit Wonder and Loose Canon. I still give sketches names, even though only Ed and the cast ever see them) were written for Radio Three's anniversary last year, on the condition I was allowed to re-record them and use them in my show too. Susannah Pearse arranged and played the canon, of course, while I sat next to her, miming, and at one point helpfully knocking the music off the stand, as she played, live, on Radio Three... (For non-Brits: Radio Three is the big serious classical music station.)

I do genuinely own all those shirts, and that jumper I bought in the sixth form, which as one of the cast kindly pointed out to me means that it is older now than I was when I bought it. The pineapples on the pineapple shirt are subtler than the ones you're probably imagining.

The first policeman sketch was inspired by Line of Duty, which is why I asked Simon to do a Northern Irish accent, in honour of Adrian Dunbar.

Apparently, the reason we can get away with saying Coca-Cola is made of dissolved children's teeth is that, to prove it was defamatory, they would have to a) argue that a reasonable person might think it is, and b) reveal their secret recipe to prove it's not!

The parrots sketch came out of Silly Voices Day*, and was Lawry's idea. The Save the Children sketch last week did too - that one was inspired by a perfectly nice woman one of the cast once worked with, who had a witch-y voice. I want to say which member of cast, but perhaps I shouldn't, just in case...
(Just in case the woman somehow reads this and is offended, I mean. Not just in case she actually is a witch.)

Ol' Vine Leaves, Baggy Grey, and Pineapples. See? Subtle. 

*It occurs to me this could probably stand some elaboration. Every series we have a Silly Voices session about half way through the writing process, where Ed, the cast, and I get together, and I pitch half-formed sketches which I don't yet know how to make work; and also quite literally get everyone to do silly voices in case that inspires something, which it often does. Other sketches that began at Silly Voice Days include: Basking Sharks, Kirates, the family reunion one with everyone being older than the person before, the slow-talking emergency briefing one, and many more.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Dry Spell




The national football team of Niue has never scored a goal.

Niue is a small island nation in the South Pacific, with a population of 1,600. And their national football team has in fact only played two matches in its history - both in the 1983 South Pacific Games. It's not as if goals weren't scored in those matches, however. Niue lost 14 nil to Tahiti, and 19 nil to Papua New Guinea.

At this point you may be thinking, well, so what? It's a tiny nation with the population of a village. Of course their sports teams are going to get thrashed by far, far bigger countries like Tahiti or Papua New Guinea...

In May 2015, the national Rugby League team of Niue played South Africa. They won 48 - 4.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Three poets who did not want to go to a party.























Vers de Society (Opening Lines)
Philip Larkin

My wife and I have asked a crowd of craps
To come and waste their time and ours; perhaps
You'd care to join us? In a pig's arse, friend.


Wishes of an Elderly Man, Wished at a Garden Party, June 1914
Walter Alexander Raleigh

I wish I loved the human race;
I wish I loved its silly face;
I wish I liked the way it walks;
I wish I liked the way it talks;
And when I'm introduced to one
I wish I thought "What jolly fun!"


On Mundane Acquaintances
Hilaire Belloc

Good morning, Algernon: Good morning, Percy.
Good morning, Mrs. Roebeck. Christ have mercy!




Sunday, 1 January 2017

All that glisters is not gold.

At the end of the nineteenth century, a rich gold strike near the Mexican town of Tlalpujahua meant that for a few years in the early twentieth century, it was the largest producer of gold in the world. The mine was a huge industry, and the population grew to a quarter of a million. Then, in 1937, a major landslide buried the mine, and much of the town. The mine closed, and the townspeople were forced to go elsewhere in search of work. Within ten years, the population was under a thousand.

One of the men who left was Joquaín Muñoz Orta, who in the fifties ended up in Chicago, working in a factory making artificial Christmas trees. When he returned to Mexico, he set up a workshop making first trees, and then baubles to go with them. The baubles were far more popular, and the workshop grew into a factory... which is now the fifth largest producer of baubles in the world. There is also a second bauble factory in the town, as well as over a hundred small family workshops. The population of Tlapujahua is now back up to about a quarter of a million... and around 70% of the town's economy comes from bauble-making.

I just thought that was nice. Happy New Year.



Saturday, 31 December 2016

Happy New Year!

Here to see it in: a Christmas cracker I made for a friend who is Welsh, but now lives in China...




Sunday, 11 December 2016

Ten

Just when you thought number five couldn't be more off-putting... lo, it has been made flesh. Well, plastic, anyway.



Friday, 9 December 2016

Nine



Eight