Whip it good

July 10, 2008


  1. re first episodes: The first episode of Father Ted is actually my favorite :) So much to love, especially Funland and Dougal’s Dreams/Reality chart

  2. Do first episodes of the second series count? :D My favourite IT Crowd episode has to be that one. “Im disabled..” classic!

  3. “Morning Major.”
    With reference to your comments about Journos slagging sitcoms off before they’ve been given a chance. Fawlty Towers suffered from the same malaise.
    Only after the first series had run it’s course and had received wider critical acclaim, did the hacks realise the error of their ways.

    As an aside – have you been sucked in by the Apple’s hype/marketing for the new iPhone? Earlier posts (re:David Lynch iphone rant) would suggest not.

  4. I do need a new phone…I can see the iPhone screen getting all smeary, though…

  5. Notice you said that they left out all of your useful (and presumably positive) advice for writers in that Stage article (I agree with you, incidentally, BBC Three is rather unfortunate in every sense) – just wondering if you’d share an example of a useful tip? I know you said it was part of a larger process, and there is no “secret” to good writing, but I was just interested to see what else you may have mentioned in that interview.

  6. I saw that “Linehan hits out at charmless tv” thing on chortle.co.uk and couldn’t really imagine you “hitting out” at anything without reason. That being said, along with your explanations that it’s slightly out of conetxt, I’ve lost faith in BBC three recently. Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps continues and a show called Scallywagga has been given air-time! The greatest piece of comedy I’ve seen in a long time was lovely lovely Matt Berry at the Snuff Box dvd launch stamping repeatedly on a dvd of Two Pints…

    OH! At the bottom of the chortle article, it said you “will be delivering a masterclass in comedy at next month’s MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival.”
    Quite frankly, the prospect excites me! Any information?

    Keep up the good work on the blog-front too, by the way, it makes me happy.

  7. ^^Curse my lack of proof-reading. “Conetxt”? That sounds rude…

  8. I don’t want to pre-empt the Edinburgh thing, but once I’ve done it I’ll try and find a way of getting the material onto this site.

  9. Fair play to you for calling out the rampant and hazardous laziness in BBC3 programming (and among the other channels). Must be incredibly frustrating for an entire interview to be reduced to a soundbite though. Have you been unfortunate enough to catch “Scallywagga” on BBC3? It’s quite possibly the worst sketch show ever aired. Worse than Tittybangbang, I swear. It’s crawling with a hideous Fresher’s Week novelty-catchphrase adscum “vibe” (just check out the site…)


    Utterly wasteful and devoid of charm, wit, style or humour. Them and Karen Taylor – has such meagre talent ever been spread so thinly? PMS, hoodies, tired stereotypes, blah blah blah. Was it written by a ten-year-old? All sound and fury, signifying nothing.

  10. As a first-time writer, with no experience, or contacts to speak, is there any way I could get my sitcom (charmless or otherwise) onto a TV platform.

    It’s about lawyers in Belfast… since you cared enough to read this far. :D

  11. Have you seen The Happening? It is by far the worst film I have ever seen in a cinema but strangely, one of the most fun experiences. Go with friends and laugh at not with.

  12. I don’t so much mind there being stuff on BBC3 I don’t like, or stuff not working (The Wall is kind of despicable not because it doesn’t “work”, but because what it wants to do is so wretched)… But the news on Adam Buxton’s blog that MeeBox won’t be commissioned, and the reasons given, makes me almost ill. In fact it provoked me into writing my first ever fan letter. Adam’s work is so honest and original and smart and carefully created and just FUN that his lack of a commission seems almost like an act of spite on behalf of lazy idiots. I’m lucky enough now to be getting into writing comedy (I have two minutes of telly to my name, which somebody put up on youtube. That was a great moment. Oh actually here then, I hope you like:
    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=JGOfcWIhGDk) but it’s frightening to step in and see so little rein given to a talent like him, at least on a channel that should surely be widening the brief, not narrowing it down to nine hours of Marek Larwood pretending to be handicapped. I’m 33. When I was 23 working in television comedy seemed a creative dream (Your work certainly encouraged that idea. First episode of Father Ted stands as one of the funniest and freshest ever – man, even the trailer had about five belly laughs, I remember – Likewise, Black Books). But it doesn’t seem like that now. Now it seems like comedy hates us (the public, not the writers). And I’m unmotivated enough as it is. No wonder the perfectionist genius freaks are turning to music videos.
    Oh, and I didn’t think The Stage made you sound like you were ranting, but still, yeah, pisser. And it sounds like you’re better. I hope you’re better.

  13. Well all this BBC3 bashing is worthwhile as I read with regret on Adam Buxton’s blog that they’ve turned down MeeBox. I enjoyed it a lot and, since I could guess what was going to happen, wrote to the BBC saying how much I enjoyed it and there should be “more of this kind of thing”. It’s a bit rubbish.

    By the way, in the Shia LaBeouf video, sorry I meant the Jules video, the baby is called Xenu. Am I the only person who noticed that?

  14. Yeah, there’s definitely something wrong with BBC Three … primarily the fact that they ran Snuff Box way too late and gave it no publicity, when it’s one of the funniest shows I’ve seen come out of the UK for a while (I’m in Australia)

    Speaking of which, is there any chance that in series 3 of The IT Crowd we might see a cameo appearance by Rich Fulcher? That could be hilariously funny…

  15. Ah, my peeps…

    Only alert enough to answer one question. James, just send it in to lots of people (producers, production companies) who do the kind of thing you like. Someone will read it eventually.

  16. Shame about MeeBox found parts of the pilot very funny indeed. My DVD of Snuff Box finally arrived, I think it explains they were forced to run it late because of the content, one C word made it in and one got cut.

    I’m so gay for IDEAL, so much so had the first three series shipped across to the US. If you watch them all back to back you can almost see the characters developing and the writing get honed.

    I wish BBC America didn’t suck the hairy ones so much, I truly think their head of programming should be taken outside and given a good kicking.

    I saw Lab Rats, it made my toes curl. It can only get better.

    Thanks for the rant space.

    Cheers Nigel

  17. I found this clip of David Bowie getting a karate lesson on Dinah Shore’s show:

    I’ve always been told that I should at least read the first 20 pages of a book before I decide that I don’t like the book, and 9 times out of 10 I wind up taking away something valuable from every book I’ve read including the ones I didn’t like very much. Reviewers should be the same way with tv shows. They should at least watch three episodes before ripping a show apart. I wouldn’t trust a critic who slagged off a book after only reading the introduction, and I don’t trust television critics who write off a show after one episode.

  18. Graham, I have several things to say, and because it’s been a heck of a long week, the only way I can organise my brain enough to get them all out is to number them. So here goes.

    1) I’m as angered as the posters above about the situation with Adam Buxton’s MeeBox. I’m in the bloody ’16-24 demographic’ and I laughed at just about every sketch in that show. Adam (with the equally wonderful Joe) makes three hours of joyful, non-patronising, non-mean, hilariously funny radio every week, which is one of the few comedy things I look forward to these days (if anyone doesn’t subscribe to the podcast, do it noooow!). MeeBox was really good. Humph.

    2) I haven’t watched BBC3 in ages, apart from the Boosh. Seeing as I’m in their target audience, whatever they’re doing’s not working.

    3) If I am supposed to like all the comedy on BBC3, then I shall be very happy when my 25th birthday comes around next year, and I’m tossed out into the old farts brigade.

    4) I introduced my mother to The IT Crowd recently – we watched the entire 1st series together one afternoon, and neither of us had to leave the room or put our fingers in our ears and hum due to embarrassment.

    5) As if to further annoy you after quoting you out of context, The Stage have decided to go with the perkiest picture of anyone I’ve ever seen to accompany the article. As if to say, ‘I’m having a rant, but I’m doing it with a smile.’

    Have a lovely weekend, everyone!

  19. Well, you did bring it up:


    Demographics are bastards, and should be dragged out into the street and shot.

  20. I have a terrible track record of not liking comedies on first seeing them. I didn’t like Father Ted, League of Gentlemen or The Office, at first. Which seems crazy to me now. I didn’t think much of Lab Rats last night. Maybe that’s a good thing.

    While I’m here have you seen this guy preaching on Dublin transport? Made my blood boil:

  21. Just to echo what other commenters have said – you’re on the money with your comments about BBC Three, and while the news that MeeBox will not be commissioned is very sad, it’s not the least bit surprising.

    If Three’s ‘comedy’ output is offensive (entirely due to its terrible quality), its reality shows are infinitely worse. I’ve seen the first two episodes of ‘Britain’s Missing Top Model’, where a group of disabled girls compete for a modelling contract – the programme treats this as indelicately as you might imagine. There is complete confusion amongst the participants (both contestants and judges) as to whether they are looking for a disabled model, or specifically someone with some kind of visual disability – I suspect this wasn’t really thought through by the producers, and there is a tension between those contestants with a visual disability and those without (the two deaf girls in particular have been treated horribly).

    Also, when the girls have difficulty participating in the various challenges, they are essentially told that they will need to get over it as “this is the way the fashion industry is”. Leaving aside the fact that legislation is making it near impossible for any industry to get away with that kind of attitude, if none of the girls are realistically going to get work as models, it makes me wonder whether there is any point in the programme. It’s not challenging anybody’s attitudes to disability – it’s just insulting everybody’s intelligence and humiliating the contestants. Ho-hum.

    At the other end of the telly spectrum though, I watched all of The IT Crowd on 4OD a couple of rainy weekends ago, and just wanted to say thanks – I haven’t laughed so hard in ages.

    Also – am I right in thinking you’ve been to the National Pop League in Glasgow a couple of times? You might be interested to know that John’s decided to wrap it up – this month’s will be the last. It’s the end of an era. :(

  22. Graham,

    If, rather than spending your time ‘hitting out’ at BBC3 in The Stage, you followed sage advice like this:


    you too could get endless commissions for a comedy with no wit and no discernible merit (but lots of oh-so-shocking anal sex references). So much easier than crafting genuinely funny programmes, I think you’ll agree.

    This is clearly where you’re going wrong.

  23. I notice that David Simon is being interviewed on The Culture Shownext week. Does anyone know,does that mean he’s in the UK or are we the license payer shelling out so the eminently punchable Mark Kermode can travel to Baltimore?

  24. Graham,

    I only just found out this blog existed. Making up for lost time now and have justly wasted an entire mornings productivity looking at the last 20 pages. You sir, are a golden God.

  25. Just adding to the collective dismay about MeeBox not being commissioned. If the festering turd that is BBC3 thought it didn’t fit in with their brainless Lily Allen-based shows, surely they could have put in on BBC4?

    That’s where Flight of the Conchords, MeeBox, and other funny shows should be shown, then BBC3 can purely focus on their core audience (who I presume are people just recovering from major brain surgery).

  26. It’s a bugger that MeeBOX didn’t get commissioned. My own personal BBC commissioning horror story: a couple of years ago, I shot a pilot for a notional history series with a Belfast-based production company. We decided to do an interesting story that didn’t require much in the way of travel, about a US bomber that had ditched on Cave Hill in Belfast during the Second World War. It got turned down on the grounds that there was ‘no obvious interest’ in the subject – which was presumably why Sir Richard Attenborough promptly announced he was making a film about it. (A completely shite film, as it turned out.)

    And while we’re having a go at the BBC, why is the sublime “On The Air” not being shown nationally? It’s just finished on BBCNI and it’s funnier than almost any other comedy series on BBC at the moment.

  27. Hi all,

    Rather upset that Adam Buxton’s ‘Meebox’ hasn’t been commissioned. I’m guessing that the 10,000 crappiest things segment might have hit a little too close to BBC3’s own home? Just thinking aloud. To cheer everyone up, here’s a bit of stand-up from one of my favourite comedians, Stewart Lee. I love the slight look of fear on his face as he delivers the material to an uncertain room full of Glaswegians. I also agree with the statement that Lee is trying to make about prejudice:

    part 1

    part 2

    P.S. Keep an eye on the face of the bearded man at the front of the audience.

  28. Anybody been watching Summer Heights High on BBC3?
    Its juvenile, but some of it has been very good

  29. Wow! That looks great! Very funny…

  30. Do not fear – the rest of your interview including all the useful tips will be published as a proper feature in an up-coming issue. As Matthew stated on the bog this morning replying to your blog “Linehan’s comments about the state of TV comedy were reported now because, as a leading figure in the comedy business, we felt his comments would undoubtedly be valued and respected by many of our readers.”

  31. stated in the blog. not bog. You can tell it’s Friday, can’t you….

  32. awwww, I was having such fun with the mental image of that quote being shouted through a closed lavatory door to the assembled throng.

    I too am disappointed about the meebox situation. Is it just me or does the tone of Adam’s blog make it sound like he’s had pretty much all the enthusiasm kicked out of him? I mean he is the empitome of self-effacing but even he must be wondering if there’s any point any more.

  33. Mr. Linehan

    Not sure you have been following the PZ Myers cracker story –

    In short:- Student takes eucharist cracker from catholic church on US Uni Campus, campus catholics go nuts and kid gets death threats and threats of explulsion, PZ Myers ask people to send him Eucharist Crackers so he can defile them and the catholic league go nuts with Donohue saying he cant think of anything worse than defiling catholic crackers.

    Have a read and please send PZ’s boss a supporting letter/email.


  34. simon kane i really enjoyed your sketch on Mitchell and Webb..well done. keep up the good work!

  35. oh graham , what to say. Lab Rats took me all they way back to the glory days of sit com. I’m so glad those days are gone.
    Never mind. I still think you are great.


    this guy is an awesome performer…writing and playing these great (very different) characters…

  37. Just finished downloading Saxondale Series 1. Have only ever seen one episode and it was alright. Looking forward to watching the rest. What do you make of it Graham??

    I also (through working behind the bar at Live at the Marquee Cork) got to see Tommy Tiernan for free. I thought his set was fairly weak. Seemed a bit thrown together. There seemed to be a lot of people laughing at anything he said, just cause he is Tommy Tiernan.

  38. I try my damnedest to ignore the pop-ups they have during films and TV shows these days. I don’t know how your situation compares to the American programs but it’s absolutely maddening. And totally insulting I might add.

    Thank God Lewis Black had the guts to call TV execs on it during the Emmys:

  39. I really enjoyed the first episode of Lab Rats. There were plenty of jokes throughout the show. I thought it quite quickly managed to establish its own world. I’ll definitely be watching again.

  40. You’re going to be in Edinburgh? Hmm…
    Meanwhile, here’s something that made me laugh strangely:

  41. All this talk of bad comedy…. If you’re losing fate enjoy this classic from demitri martin. Like IT CROWD, tis both witty and inoffensive. Inoffensive to me now usually means “good.” Whilst “edgy” usually means pants. Funny how things change.

  42. Please do a blog post when your full interview goes up on that website. You might think it would be too self-promotional, but if you don’t post the link here, I’ll probably miss out on it.

  43. Upon reading all these posts about MeeBOX it appears I certainly was not alone in my adoration for that show. I watched it when first shown and a couple of times more on iPlayer, and bloody loved every bit of it. Adam could have gotten so much more of it, generated large revenue from DVD sales, but now, thats just that. Over. Done.

    In the very same week, the BBC also turned down a new sitcom by Richard Herring. Now anyone who has seen this man’s stand-up or past TV shows with Stewart Lee knows what an unappreciated genius he is.

    The BBC has dropped at least two shows this week which enormous potential to add to our comedy culture, and I for one am very sad about it.

  44. I watch a lot of stand up and 2pints of lager bashing has become a comic staple. It always gets a laugh out of me. I hear the reason they keep recommissioning it is that it is popular outside the UK. I can’t really believe that. It’s a puzzle isn’t it.

    Where can I see this MeeBox pilot?

    Also Graham you forgot to tell everyone that Labrats is available on the BBC iplayer for everyone to make up their own mind.

  45. For what it’s worth, I just watched the first episode of Lab Rats on the iPlayer. I thoroughly enjoyed it. There were lots of jokes which made me laugh out loud, and I thought the dude in the pink coat (who I’ve just read co-wrote it) and the Dutch university dean were particularly funny. The other characters didn’t quite hit the spot with me straight away, but they all had some funny moments, so I’m hoping they’ll develop. My only critcism would be that I thought it slightly lost its way at the end by becoming a bit too detached from reality (I’m afraid the giant snail bit didn’t hit the spot for me). I preferred the gentler jokes at the beginning, like the bit about the lightbulb in a tin, which I’m still chuckling about now. All in all, I’ll definitely be watching next week.

  46. jumpjet, juvenile is kinda the point with chris lilly’s summer hieghts high.
    its really interesting to see that a british audience would enjoy this comedy created a school close to where i live.
    its a brilliant parody of modern language too. if, like myself, your were an australian studying english you would greatly understand how sadly humourous it has now become.
    a strongly recommend you keep watching. support australian sitcoms :)

  47. Have you heard the story on Oney Judge, George Washington’s favourite slave?

    It’s vol. 3 of Drunk History.
    I laughed, I learned, I found her quite hot (in a drunk historian kinda way.)

  48. I think the highest praise you can give Summer Heights High is that is is at the same level of creative genius as Nighty Night. Chris Lilley is insanely brilliant. I wiki’d Bogan and Povo, I don’t do that for substandard television.

  49. Just seen Lab Rats on the Iplayer with my wife and daughter – loved it, really looking forward to the next episode.

  50. Well, I thought Labrats was OK. It had a bit of an issue with timing… towards the end it was getting too lose – the jokes were losing any sort of ‘punch’. The joke with the Babushka clones was great though. And Jo Enright’s character is full of great absurdity. I think it has potential.

    Saxondale however.. that started good, then I just got bored of it. Empty also started good, but it kinda got lost somewhere, and I dropped recording it.

    I’d love to try and write a sitcom one day though. Something funny, innocent, and good. Then again, every mad fan fancies themselves a writer. Don’t worry though, I think Fanfiction is just… weird!

  51. I’m a great believer in that new sitcoms require you to gain a certain amount of new comedy “anti-bodies” over a few episodes before you can successfully watch them – without rejecting them altogether.

    My sister is a good one for dismissing new comedy after just the first episode… Seinfeld, Spaced, LOG and (dare I mention it) even IT Crowd. Yet what do I find nestled amongst her DVDs?

    Lab Rats is new and should be given a break. These are new characters and need a bit more air-time to bed in. I for one will be watching next week, if only to see how the Russian clone/snail hybrid turns out…

    I’m Johnny-come-lately to the whole BBC iPlayer thing – I’ve been suffering with a crappy dial up. Now that I’m kitted out with faster net-access, I’ve just finished watching Lab-Rats online and noticed that the iPlayer volume goes up to 11. Probably everyone has already noticed this. Made me laugh.

  52. Sorry Graham. I know you’re being diplomatic as you still move in comedy circles and Chris Addison is probably a nice enough guy and you don’t want to offend him, but you and I know that you can tell a hell of a lot from one episode. You don’t choose the shittest one to start.

    I used to be a professional comedy writer ( I had a fairly weak sitcom on Radio 4) so I know ths score.

    The script was just gags and set-ups with no real character driving them, plot was just there to get to the gags, which were thin and contrived. The casting was terrible, the entire cast wooden (apart from maybe the ‘cooky’ girl with the pigtails who could have been okay with a better script, director and character)and Chris Addison, so great in The Thick of It, looked awkward and charmless in the lead role. A fucking turkey.

  53. Graham, your ‘broadside’ in stage made it onto page 5 of yesterday’s Independent. Here’s the online version:


  54. “I used to be a professional comedy writer ( I had a fairly weak sitcom on Radio 4) so I know ths score.”

    Paul, strikes me that having a ‘fairly weak sitcom’ is not the best way to demonstrate your ability to bring insight into successful sitcom development. And ‘used to be a professional comedy writer’… well, that says it all, doesn’t it?

    I missed the bit with the fucking turkey. Was it a good scene? Sounds edgy.

  55. Happymutt, I think the fucking turkey was edited out of lab rats when they decided to screen it on BBC2, not BBC3…..

    (I’m trying to reserve judgement until at least next episode, but that Brummie accent is verging on unforgivable.)

  56. “cooky”?

  57. the inverted commas denoted irony – as you well know m’lad

  58. happymutt – the ‘weak sitcom’ was a reference to the difficulty of getting something difficult through – ie why I ‘know the score’.

    If I’m honest enough to admit my own series wasnt very good (too many compromises – hence why im an ex comedy writer) I feel okay about saying someone else’s isn’t very good either.

    At least I’m using my own name – na na na na na!

  59. When the wine and bitterness wears off you may wish you hadn’t.

  60. No, it’s just, you’ve spelled ‘kooky’ wrong, dear.

    “If I’m honest enough to admit my own series wasnt very good (too many compromises – hence why im an ex comedy writer) I feel okay about saying someone else’s isn’t very good either.”

    Well, you’ve sort of shifted the blame onto someone else there by blaming all the compromises you had to make. You can’t have it both ways, Paul!

  61. What exactly am I being accused of here, fellow Linehanites?

    Expressing my honest opinion that, like quite a few other people above, I didn’t think the show was very good? How is that an issue?

    I totally agree with Professor Linehan though. If I was a professional TV critic, and therefore had the power to influence whether the show gets recommissioned, I would hold off my judgement till episode six. I think that’s perfectly fair and honourable. Not to mention prudent, just to be on the safe side.

    But, seeing as I’m just a punter like everyone else, albeit with some experience of writing comedy, I feel free to express my opinion openly.

    Okay. I’ll admit to something here:

    I woke up at lunchtine on Sunday in a bad mood. Probably because the last thing I’d done was watch Lab Rats. Okay, not funny. But true. I’m not usually someone who expresses a negative opinion for the sake of it.

    So, perhaps if I had Sunday lunchtime all over again, rather than getting straight out of bed and going online, I might have kept my mouth shut. I still would have thought episode one wasn’t any good – but no animals would have been harmed in the making of my sentences.

    So. Forget I said it. I’ll wait till episode six to say it’s rubbish instead. And even then – I’ll probably just tell my friends and family. And the cat.

    He didn’t like it either. And he usually likes any old shite.

  62. I quite enjoyed Lab Rats too – the lightbulb joke in particular. It got predictably slated in the press though, of course.

    I tried to think of something positive to say about BBC3 in general but failed entirely. Shows that have already been mentioned like The Wall, Scallywagga etc might be just shit, but they can’t hold a candle to the sheer offensiveness of Little Miss Jocelyn. It’s not only terrible, but also probably the most racist show I’ve seen for years. It doesn’t engage with any stereotypes, they’re just… there.

  63. I dont blame anyone else for my compromises Graham.

    I made them, no one else. I just gave it all up because that became demoralising. I believe you maybe had similar problems with Paris on C4. You keep saying yes because you just want it to be made and when it is – it isnt the series you first wrote so why bother.

    My series got good reviews but that doesn’t matter does it. It’s how close it was to the original idea and how good you think it is yourself that matters.

    I sincerely don’t wish anyone involved in Lab rats any harm and, as I say, if I came over like a bitter old cunt, then I apologise to yourself and fellow Linehanites. I’m not usually a negative person these days. I thankfully gave all that up when I stopped writing comedy.

    PS: the cat say hello. He loves the IT crowd.

  64. Well, we all write things we shouldn’t, but I want to be very clear here before moving on. Blaming the show on all the compromises you had to make is not accepting blame. It is shifting blame onto someone else.

    And you’re wrong about ‘Paris’. The reason the show didn’t work (well, one of the reasons) was because we didn’t compromise enough. If we had compromised by, say, cutting the show down to a manageable length while it was still in script form, we might not have had to leave so much of it in the editing room. As it was, each show was nearly ten minutes overlong because we refused to cut anything out when we still had a chance.

    To sum up, intractability is actually not a good thing in a writer, despite what y’all might have heard.

  65. Hey Legend.

    This is the only way I could get in contact with you.I present the breakfast show for Redfm Cork city and was wondering if you would like to do a quick phoner some morning ? Both my co presenter and I are huge fans :) ( insert ass lick here … )

    kc@redfm.ie is my mail address.

    While im here, you might enjoy…..

    Cheers Graham

  66. Yes, I agree. But it’s obviously about ‘why’ you compromise. If you do so, for practical reasons taking into account the valued opinions of other personnel involved then great, it’s often an improvement.

    If you do so, when a voice at the back of your head is screaming ‘YOU FUCKING IDIOT, THAT WON’T WORK!’ then obviously not.

    It also helps, I think, having a writing partner to vent any frustrations together. Which also makes it easier to stand up for yourself against the large team of naturally-confident people who invariably make television and radio comedy.

    At the risk of repeating myself and boring anyone still tuned in, I believe I compromised for all the wrong reasons:

    1. Because I’m a Libra and hate conflict (ironically)

    2. Because I wasn’t confident as a lone writer and natural introvert, having emerged from my cottage to discuss production and been intimidated by the shiny happy people. And the invariably high proportion of beautiful posh women.

    3. Because my girlfriend at that time worked with adults with learning difficulties and, after a lifetime of thinking that comedy writing was the most important thing in my life, I realised that there were more important things and sort of just gave in. In other words, I did something wrong for all the right reasons. That happens a lot, I believe. Moreso as you get older, I find.

    4. Because I was afraid that I couldn’t do anything else with my life and here was a chance to get some success and please my family – and obviously any attractive girls from my old school I bumped into.

    Not the most noble of motives any of these and I’m perfectly honest about that. In fact, as the years go by, I find more and more reasons pop up – but I won’t bore you with the lot of them.

    As I say, sounds a bit pathetic all that. But, I know a lot of other writers, comedy and non-comedy, and, if they’re being totally honest, it’s probably not that uncommon.

    So, I’m not blaming anyone else for my compromises. Maybe just stil angry with myself for not saying ‘No’ more often. And if that anger is unhelpfully directed at other people, I’d rather not do so.

    As Alan says to yourself and Arthur in that great Partridge episode ‘there’s more to loif dan dis’

  67. Sorry, I know it’s actually ‘theres more to oyeland dan dis’ – but that doesnt really work as a summing up …

  68. Can we stop all this now? I think Paul Marshall makes some valid points and if he’s had some of his writing produced, however good or bad, means he knows more about comedy writing than 95 percent of the people reading this. Lab Rats is a very poor show, so far, made by some of the best comedy people in the country. This is why it’s so upsetting to see it.
    But lets move on. Have you noticed the dreadful state of comedy on Radio 4? And Channel 4 come to that. Come on kids let’s put it in the happy box.

  69. Hmm. No, let’s not move on by slagging more stuff. Let’s just move on.

  70. Nice to see some of you are still up at this ungodly hour. Only comedy writers left at this hour. Currently watching the wonderful Van Morrison BBC4 Session. Which has cleansed my soul. Gawd bless the man. and a happy peaceful night to one and all xxx

  71. To ease the tension in the room, here’s some top quality music video action from one of Ireland’s finest: Jape.


    I Was a Man:

    And finally, Graveyard:

  72. *gasps* You, in all your comedy greatness, have a blog?! I say, only a couple of hours ago i was rolling on the floor rasping ‘I can’t breathe!’ because Jen’s co worker thought she was a zombie and he yelled that he would never let her in and the laughter decided to take control over my other physical capabilities. And yet i’d already seen that episode numerous times. And and….
    *awaits blog entry of hilariousness (No pressure or anything)*
    p.s. Sorry everybody

  73. http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=lwANJEwkWB0&NR=1

    I wish I heard this when it came out.
    So…erm…anybody here like Mock the Week? In my view one of the funniest things on TV at the mo.

  74. I’ve never seen any of the above mentioned programmes, and I think they are all both amazing and shit. I particularly like the bits where Yinty did, and did not play the clarinet. Though I do think the location manager’s wife is a twat. Probably, and the more often the man makes a joke about the other man, the better the ending/start would have been.

  75. Oh man. Are you trying to kill me? I just read the Friedkinthing and nearly crashed my desk laughing. And then listened to the Sweet BBC thing. It was like Spike Milligan.

  76. David Cairns’ blog is one of my favorite reads at the moment. Thanks for putting us onto it. Sort of slightly on the same subject, here’s a pre-Buster Crabbe Buck Rogers short that I feel compelled to tell the world about: Do you think the future ever really could be as wonderful as the vision here presented? Dare we hope?


  77. Paddy: Mock the Week is sporadically very funny, but it’s got one of the worst titles I can think of! I love Dara O’Briain, and panelists like Hugh Dennis, Frankie Boyle and David Mitchell make me chuckle like a mad thing. Seems scripted to within an inch of its life, like HIGNFY, but I don’t think that detracts from the quality. Happy times overall.

  78. Jesus i’m in so much pain from laughing at the corpsing videos. Click on some of the related ones after the BBC clip. It reminds me of being back in school trying desperately not to laugh out loud in class.

  79. I actually will do just that, Nunquam…don’t know why I didn’t think of doing so myself…

  80. My God, that Buck Rogers thing is amazing. Thanks, Simon!

  81. I think this is my favourite corpsing video. Couldn’t find the original non-studio audience laughing version but I still think it’s a winner.

  82. Hi Graham, thanks for all the laughs these past years both on telly and on your blogs. I’ve always threatened to alert you to something really funny when I found something genuinely good enough. Now it seems as though I have. Hope you haven’t seen it already.

    Captain Planet saves Belfast… Classic!!

  83. That William Friedkin photo makes him look like a sort of evil Richard Whitely, quite disconcerting.

    I believe his next project is a shock-doc for Channel 4 called ‘The Girl Whose Mother Sucks Cocks in Hell.’

    Sounds like a sure-fire ratings smash.

  84. Ah, cheers for the thanks, Graham! The lady on Today is just so posh and so “establishment” that I could never really imagine her laughing.


  86. I may have posted this link in the past, but here’s a link to a list of “Top 10 Incredible Recordings.” It includes some very early recordings, and some very creepy recordings.

    Ever listen to the Conet Project? I’m not interested in the conspiracy angle, but I love listening to numbers stations. They’re divinely creepy:

    Hope you are feeling better!

  87. I’m afraid I have to correct you there Mr. Sodape. Mark Kermode is clearly Garth Merenghi.
    And Hank Hill is Buck Rogers.

  88. That list that Rachel posted is great, but the oldest recording in history was discovered recently, and both the recording and its story are riveting. The best thing about it is that the man who recorded it wasn’t able to play it back, and so it wasn’t heard again for 150 years! Unbelievable stuff. Ghostly. I sampled it for a track I made recently. Here ye go:


    p.s. Simon – I hope I’m not hearing people hatin’ on the Kermode! I love the guy. “Ol’ Soapbox Kermode” as Phill Jupitus calls him. Good Lord, who’s next in the crossfire – Alan Yentob?

  89. (that link is to the news article, by the way)

  90. Thanks, Rachel.

    That Swedish girls’ voice will be a permanent presence in my nightmares for the next few weeks.

    Nice to see David Simon, creator of Best TV Show Ever on The Culture Show. Not nice to see Mark Kermode, which is why I turned over. Used to like the man but am with David Cairns on him now (link to thoughts on Southland Tales as an example):


  91. WIthout wishing to cause offense I do wonder how somebody who is LITERALLY scared of the devil and happy to go an record as saying that “The Exorcist” is the best film ever made (you know, you may have a point, Mr. ASA, maybe Soapbox just nicked his look off of Friedkin)… a man visibly appalled at the idea of children having access to plastic Freddy Kreuger gloves… a man who only last night I caught on the internet speechless at the idea that 12-year-olds were ALLOWED TO GO AND SEE “BEOWULF” – I do wonder how this close-minded, elbow-faced milksop ever managed to wangle his way into becoming the face of “out-there” arts correspondence, yes. Yours in a spirit of understanding…

  92. Ouch! I’ll stay out of this one…I certainly don’t agree with him all the time, but he entertains me. I see what you mean about the occasional throwaway, flip reviews, but sometimes “Shit Sandwich” is all the review you need!

    Southland Tales looks interesting; I’ll give that a look.

  93. Sorry for calling you Mr… It was meant to be polite but reading it over it just comes across as arsey… Ah, print!

  94. Not at all… Actually, I’ve been checking out your blog and I’m about to attempt the 3 Henson clips simultaneously; should be good! LOVE that Mitchell & Webb (well, Rob Webb really) sketch.

  95. That YouTube Philip Glass/Jim Henson clip on Simon’s blog reminded me: Philip Glass is playing solo piano in the cathedral in Dundalk on Thursday evening at 8. Can’t wait.

  96. Knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock.

    Who’s there?

    Philip Glass.

  97. Ba dum tschhh! An oldie but a goodie, Graham. Well I’ll be there so *blows raspberry*…

    I’m going for a meal before the concert – I hope my dinner doesn’t repeat on me! Harhar.

  98. The Wind’s Twelve Quarters, eh? It’s been a long time. I first read that when I saw it in my mother’s collection as a kid. I think there were boobies on the cover so I was drawn in.

    Incidentally Graham, I don’t suppose you’re a C.J. Cherryh fan?

  99. Don’t get me wrong! I love Glass!

  100. Ah, Frank Doberman. Marvelous sir.

  101. Don’t get me wrong – I love Glass also! His particular brand of Minimalist music is both moving and sublime.

    But, if he was to come round my ‘ouse, in the middle of the night, and record over all my Phil Collins cassettes with his poncey bleeps and farts and what have you – I would have to say, ‘Oi Glass! No!

    ‘I admire the way you can weave both hypnotic and elegaic musical structures from the most basic of atonal forms whilst at the same time nodding contrapunctually towards both Bach and Schubert.

    ‘But you’re having a laugh if you think you can break into my ‘ause, rake through my wife’s undies and shit on the dining room carpet.’

    And I would most definitely have to give him an almighty slap!

  102. I rather enjoyed the last time Philip Glass broke into my house and farted cheerfully along to “In the Air Tonight”.

  103. To quote from your latest post Graham, ‘Bonus: The lunatics are out in force in the comments section.’

    How is insulting contributors to your website helpful or honourable?

  104. Paul, a bit of a misunderstanding – I think Graham is referring to the people who commented on The Independent website, not here.

    Unless you’re making a very subtle joke which I seem to have missed.

  105. If so, I apologies. But I think it’s an easy mistake to make. I think perhaps some clarification is required.

  106. I think, Paul, if Graham did think we were all loonies, given his impeccably polite behaviour in the comments section, it would be decidedly not-cunning of him to post that opinion on his blog to which this is the comments section.
    Knock Plunk. Who’s there? Steve Reich.
    I just made that one up.

  107. Cage! I mean John Cage!

  108. yes, simon. good point. I think I was probably still in Frank Doberman mode when I read that. This method acting will kill me one day.

    Of all Reich’s work, ‘Steve Reich in the afternoon’, his moving piece involving a train, some mumbling old folk and a smug DJ – is my particular favourite.

  109. Here’s a link to the full text of Stephen Fry’s new podcast, “Broadcasting”, including his recent speech about the BBC and license fees. It’s a tour-de-force, as ever. Halfway down the page:


  110. I loved that podcast, AstonishingSodApe – so very interesting. I always learn somethng from Stephen Fry’s Podgrams.

    That Feist clip is brilliance! I love the rhyme ‘chickens just back from the shore’. Surely, though, the best Sesame Street guest spot ever is Robert De Niro turning ino a cabbage (a cabbage which actually looks a lot like Robert De Niro).


  111. I dunno, I think I’d pick the Sesame Street where Smokey Robinson gets sexually assaulted by a giant letter U as the best guest spot.


  112. I love Feist!! I can’t stop listening to her at the moment!

    Just got my MGMT tickets for their gig in the Ambassador, Dublin in November. You heading to it Graham?? They were supposed to have been unbelievable at Oxegen!

  113. Sadly, no…Dublin and I are parting company. back to London soon!

  114. Ah pity! You missed out on a conversation with me, which would have been electric and quite possibly the greatest conversation you may ever have. I even had a witty joke lined up…during ‘Time to Pretend’ I was going to say Time to Pretend I’m friends with Graham Linehan. Ah well…some other time!!

  115. ASA, many thanks for the link to Fry. It reminded me of a brilliant programme Jarvis Cocker made a while back called something like “Top 10 rules for Music Television”. I guess it was just supposed to the usual clips show but Jarvis Cocker managed to turn it into a genuinely thought-provoking and entertaining argument against the “consumer-driven” ghettoising of telly into Music, Comedy and Gardening channels. He may rank alongside Alan Moore as one of the Great as-yet-untapped TV presenters. I don’t know where to find any clips of it though, sorry.

    Absolute BBC fetishists may also be interested in this. It’s somebody’s home-movies of the BBC from 1938. The military display about 3 minutes in is almost more history than I can handle. “That plate-spinning was all very fun, but Mr. Wharburton tell us a bit now about these enormous weapons you’re already pointing at Europe” I assume they’re saying. Thank God I live nowhere near the 1930’st:



  116. Jeez, Graham…in the words of Junior Boys:

    So this is goodbye?

  117. When BBC3 was first launched, I really loved some of the shows such as Liquid News with Christopher Price and Monkey Dust. I also enjoyed Little Britain and 3 Non Blondes was silly, but fun as they weren’t out to embarrass the public, but there’s not been much since that’s made me feel that BBC3 is an important contribution to the BBC’s output. Yes, there are a few decent comedies on the channel, but there are plenty of terrible ones that continue to be recommissioned.

    Comedy shouldn’t strive to achieve cheap laughs and why should ‘young people’ want that? Some of us want sophisticated comedy that is funny and not just a lot of expletives joined together to make a sentence.

    Oh and I love Sesame Street and I’m looking forward to the Fraggle Rock film.

  118. graham did you catch jon ronsons documentary on the kubrick boxes? It was very interesting..Man that Ronson always seems to be up to something cool. I just finished reading The Men Who Stare at Goats..

  119. dammit! No, I missed it…

  120. That Feist clip was good, but personally I prefer James Blunt’s apearance:

    I now have a bit of respect for the man, especially for including the word “hypotenuse” in a song.

  121. I sent a polite little email to the BBC to let them know how disappointed I am that “MeeBox” wasn’t commissioned, and that I’d definitely buy the series on DVD if they change their minds. The response I got was an extremely polite and friendly email explaining that the success and quality of pilots have nothing to do with whether or not they’re commissioned. Perhaps that’s a bit obvious when it seems that the only show on BBC America, as my husband puts it, is some reality show that amounts to “I’m a Big Fat Ass and I’m Going to Die – Help!”

    I also asked them if they’d consider putting their TV shows on ITunes where I can pay for them and download them legally, but apparently I have to make a long distance phone call to their marketing department to make that request since that department doesn’t publish their email address. I’ll wait until the weekend when I get free minutes. I just want to pay the BBC for legal downloads! Why do they make it so hard (rhetorical question)?

  122. Great James Blunt clip Paddy.

    I Dont find him nearly so annoying now, so thats a useful public service youve provided.

  123. um i located it on youtube just there actually.If your interested in it heres the clip..http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnoBdgxwTPU

    But im sure it will be repeated on more4 at some stage..maybe theyll show it late some other night this week as part of the Kubrick season. Tonight they show Paths of Glory. Its great.Oh by the way i was watching Brass Eye the other night, the animal rights episode..dont know what parts of the show you contrubuted to but way to go anyways..

  124. that link again…

  125. Might I recommend some real journalism?


    … rather than Johan Hari blathering bullcrap. I like how JH thinks Ingrid Betancourt’s sister is an accurate source. I also like how he thinks that a heart-warming story is one of an old lady having to live in a shack (while her beloved government funnels money to shore up Castro’s regime).

    I’ve had a thought! Maybe all those critical reviews of Lab Rats were written by people who were pissed off that MeeBOX, which had a great pilot, got canned whereas this show had a weak opening episode yet gets a full series.

  126. “I like how JH thinks Ingrid Betancourt’s sister is an accurate source.”

    Yes, how could she possibly know anything about Ingrid Betancourt?

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