Oh- what an English husband can introduce you to…
There are lots of cool things about being married to a British guy. Not the least of which is the accent. And being able to keep only real beer in the house. One of the best things though is that my darling husband from across the pond has introduced to me to the joys of BBC radio. It is part of our nightly routine to snuggle into bed and listen to something before drifting off to sleep.
Who knew people still make radio plays? I didn’t. And some of the classic stuff is beyond brilliant.
I fell in love with Bertie Wooster thanks to Richard Briers chipper interpretation of P.G. Wodehouse’s dapper, if questionably dressed, man about town. Looking for a funny but occasionally poignant look at life in a small British town during WWII? Then Dad’s Army is for you. One of the best theme songs ever. Trust me. Look it up.
Then there are the panel games. Think NPR quiz game but disdainfully irreverent wherein winning is of absolutely zero importance.” I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue” and” Just a Minute” being the best of the lot. I’m sorry I haven’t a clue has a series of inspired games including the infamous “Mornington Crescent.” A game that has no actual rules but often involves intense debate about… rules. “Arrivals at the Ball” and “One Song to the tune of Another” consistently have me in stitches.
“Just a Minute” has an incredibly simple premise and rules. Speak on a subject for 1 minute without hesitation, deviation or repetition. Sounds simple enough. But it never is, thankfully. Some of Britain’s best comic talent have been and are regulars on the panel along with some of the best intellects. Clement Freud (yes he’s related to that Freud) was a regular from 1967 to 2009. Comedians have included Paul Merton, Eddie Izzard, Stephen Fry, Graham Norton, Peter Jones and Kenneth Williams. But the best part is the show’s host. Nicholas Parsons. Egad he is funny.
On to the newer radio plays. James McLevy was an Inspector with the police force in Scotland in the mid 1800’s. His stories have been turned into some of the most insightful and engaging dramatizations I have ever heard.
“At Home with the Snails” – it is described as a comedy drama about a man with an unusual hobby. But that really doesn’t begin to get you into the mindset you need to be in to get this disturbingly funny and freakishly weird series. You’ll have trouble looking at a snail again. I promise.
And for you Dr. Who fans there are the radio versions of the goofily dressed doctor’s exploits. I don’t listen to those. I still have a serious aversion to the Doctor. Due mainly to forced marathons during PBS pledge drives in my youth (thanks you mom). My brother and I would beg to go to bed early just to get out of watching. But if that is your thing it is there.
If some seriously satirized and just plain messed up news is your cup of tea then you should check out “On the Hour.” Brilliant coverage of absolutely inane news. Or perhaps a sitcom about the devil sounds more like it, in which case I highly recommend “Old Harry’s Game.”
And look – I’ve even made it super simple for you to go explore the joys of British Radio programming all on your own.
Holy crap – I almost forgot “Bleak Expectations” the hands down funniest most messed up take on Dickens you will ever hear. And I do mean ever. There are aliens and dinosaurs and trained swans… well you really just need to listen. The first episode is entitled “A Sort of Fine Life De-niced Completely.” Be prepared to take some pain pills because that is how hard you will laughing.