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The Bigger Picture – Marcus Brigstocke

16 Jul
Marcus Brigstocke  Wednesday 13th March 2013 @ Photography Studio © Copyright Huw Jennings

Marcus Brigstocke Wednesday 13th March 2013 @ Photography Studio © Copyright Huw Jennings

Comedian and satirist Marcus Brigstocke has become a member of the British comedy establishment after a career that has traversed radio, television, film, theatre and print.

BBC Radio 4 has become somewhat of a second home to Marcus with regular appearances on I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, The Now Show, Just A Minute and Giles Wemmbley-Hogg Goes Off.  A satirical comic who frequently tackles the big issues, Marcus’ book God Collar, based on his award-winning Edinburgh show took a scathing look at modern faith.  Marcus speaks to Paul Blezard about life after atheism.

Marcus Brigstocke joins Paul Belzard at the Hay Literary Festival 2013 to talk about his new satirical show The Brig Society and writing his new stand-up show, provisionally titled Je M’accuse ( I am Marcus), which will see the wreckage of his personal life laid out before live audiences.

Browse Marcus Brigstocke audio

Second Episode Syndrome

5 Jul

Eddie RobsonEddie Robson has written for sketch shows including That Mitchell And Webb Sound, Small Scenes and Look Away Now, and several episodes of Doctor Who for Radio 4 Extra. He has also written comics, short stories and books including Film Noir and The Art Of Sean Phillips.

There’s an old cliché about pop music that says you get ten years to write your first album and ten months to write your second, or something like that. That’s how I felt about Welcome To Our Village, Please Invade Carefully, my sitcom about a small Buckinghamshire village being invaded by aliens.

I first pitched the show in February 2010, at a meeting with my producer Ed Morrish in the café at the BBC’s Henry Wood House. (By the time we recorded the first series, the BBC Radio Comedy department had moved offices twice.) I hadn’t had a sitcom commissioned before. I had a document outlining the concept and the characters and the series. Ed zoned in on a particular scene and asked me to write it. In this scene, the main character, Katrina, is getting a lift away from the village where her parents live – she’s been staying with them for the weekend. Driving the car is her ex-boyfriend, Mike. The car has barely got going when it stops for no apparent reason. Then, a local toff wanders over and reveals he’s actually an alien warlord, the village is now under his control, and nobody will be allowed in or out.

Scene 1 - Page 1 Scene 1 - Page 2 Scene 1 - Page 3 Scene 1 - Page 4 Scene 1 - Page 5
(Click the images to see the pages of the script).

Ed wanted to see this particular scene to get a sense of the tone. You won’t find the scene anywhere in the episodes we recorded. I went on to write a script, which was what we call a ‘premise’ episode – an episode which shows the events which created the situation of this particular sitcom. It opened on a village which had not yet been invaded by aliens, and which Katrina was visiting for the weekend. When Katrina tried to leave, we had the scene in Mike’s car. And it ended with Katrina deciding to form a resistance movement against the alien menace. Then, I was asked to write an episode which was more of a normal one, to show how the series would work on a weekly basis.

Finally, I got a script commission, for which they wanted a whole new script. We’d decided by now that we didn’t need a premise episode. Also, there were too many characters – originally, Mike was going to be a regular, but he went. This rendered both the scripts I had redundant. But those two scripts laid much groundwork for the third, which I wrote, and rewrote, and rewrote, with notes from Ed, our script editor Arthur Mathews, and our execs. Then it got commissioned as a pilot, and I gave it a few more passes just to make sure. From first pitch to broadcast, I spent almost two and a half years working on that opening episode, what it would be, and what it needed to do.

Welcome To Our Village, Please Invade Carefully Then the series got commissioned, and I had six months to write another four episodes.

But the good thing about sitcoms is that you’re not starting from scratch with every episode. Each one you write uses up ideas and jokes, but it gives you a deeper knowledge of the characters and, hopefully, suggests more ideas and jokes. You reach a point where just putting two characters together in a particular room starts to generate something funny. The show practically writes itself! No, that’s a lie, I had to write it and it was quite hard work actually. But I think the series is definitely better than the pilot. And despite the lengthy journey, and losing poor old Mike along the way, it’s very much the show I wanted to write when I started out.

Buy our Welcome to our Village, Please Invade Carefully.

If you like Cabin Pressure, you’ll probably like this too!

8 Feb

We’re currently in the middle of the fourth series of Cabin Pressure, the sitcom about an airline for whom no job is too small but many, many jobs are too difficult! For those of you who are fans of the show, Duncan, our commissioning editor for comedy has put together a list of five titles you may also like!

if you like cabin pressure

Please let us know what you think and if you have any suggestions of your own!

bleak expectationsBleak Expectations

Anthony Head, Celie Imrie, Richard Johnson and Geoffrey Whitehead star in this ‘Charles Dickens after too much gin’-style Victorian romp. Bleak Expectations is a quirky pastiche of Dickens’ works such as Bleak House and Great Expectations as well as costume dramas set in the same period. Written by Mark Evans, who wrote for That Mitchell and Webb Sound and the television adaptation That Mitchell and Webb Look, this is a must for any radio comedy fan.

 Buy Bleak Expectations Series 1

ed reardonEd Reardon’s Week

This is the story of Ed Reardon, a 50-something year old author, pipesmoker, consummate fare-dodger and master of the abusive email as he attempts to survive in a world where the media seems to be run by idiots and lying charlatans. Ed (played by Christopher Douglas) lives with his cat, Elgar and scrapes a living working through commissions for coffee table books such as The Brands Hatch Story and Pet Peeves, a book of celebrity pet anecdotes. Much of his work comes through his agent, Felix (played by John Fortune) but he makes a small income from running a creative writing course at the local night school, where his lessons frequently mention the single episode of Tenko that he wrote. Ed also earns an occasional £10 for taking part in identity parades at the police station.

Buy Ed Reardon’s Week: The Complete First Series

Giles Wemmbley Hogg Goes OffGiles Wemmbley Hogg Goes Off

Written by Marcus Brigstocke, Jeremy Salsby and Graeme Garden, the show follows the adventures of Giles Wemmbley-Hogg, traveller, backpacker and gap-year ponce. This sympathetic fool clearly doesn’t mean any harm and has a similar charm to Harry Enfield’s Tim Nice-But-Dim and P.G. Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster.

Buy Giles Wemmbley Hogg Goes Off

John Finnemore's Souvenir ProgrammeJohn Finnemore’s Souvenir Programme

Cabin Pressure writer and actor, John Finnemore writes and stars in this sketch show, which It features such sketches as Winnie the Pooh coming to terms with his abusive relationship with honey, how The Archers sounds to people who don’t listen to the Archers and how Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde decided whose turn it was to do the washing up. If you liked Cabin Pressure, you’ll love this!

Buy John Finnemore’s Souvenir Programme (Series 2, Episode 1) 

Old Harry's Game: The Complete Series 1 & 2 Old Harry’s Game

Written, starring and directed by Andy Hamilton, Old Harry’s Game follows the world-weary and cynical Satan as he deals with a rebellion and with human depravity on the increase, Hell’s getting over-crowded. It’s time for a new assistant. But will Scumspawn (Robert Duncan) get the job? This satirical, philosophical, inventive, topical and timeless comedy is a true great!

Buy Old Harry’s Game: The Complete Series 1 & 2

What do you think of these? Do you have any other suggestions?

Comedy at AudioGO in December

11 Dec

The Goon Show Compendium 8Tis the season to be jolly and here at AudioGO we have lined up some comedy treats for you and your loved ones to enjoy over the festive season.

If classic comedy takes your fancy, our boxsets are perfect for collectors and newcomers alike. The 8th series of The Goon Show, remastered to the highest standards in The Goon Show Compendium 8  see Spike, Peter and Harry at their surreal and hilarious best. Accompanied by 2 information laden booklets detailing all the facts of the series, this is the perfect gift for fans of the show to treasure.

The Navy Lark: Collected Series 8 puts the crew of HMS Troutbridge back on board and causing yet more mischief. Lawrie Wyman’s much loved creation continues to delight listeners of both radio and audiobook and this series is no exception.

For the Radio 4 listener in your life, the pick of the year’s episodes feature on Just A Minute: The Best of 2012. Chair Nicholas Parsons oversees the 45th anniversary special episode – in which contestants tackle the subjects from the first ever episode – as well an episode recorded during the team’s trip to Mumbai, showcasing the growing worldwide appeal of the show.

From Just A Minute to ‘the antidote to panel games’, I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue: The Specials brings together some of the unique broadcasts from the show’s history into one box for the first time. Enjoy Christmas Clue, the Alice in Wonderland inspired ‘Humph in Wonderland’, learn more about  Mornington Crescent, and enjoy an anniversary celebration. Perfect fun throughout the long winter nights ahead.

If standup comedy is more to your tastes then we have plenty for you too. Sarah Millican’s Chatterbox Live sees one of Britain’s best female comics at the top of her craft, delighting the audience with her well-crafted observations and hilarious jokes.

Enjoying great success on BBC3, Russell Howard treats us to his unique stand up stylings in Dingledodies and Right Here Right Now, two sell out shows that deliver knockout laughs throughout.

Bafta winning comedian Lee Mack gives us rapid fire humour and sharp ad libs with Lee Mack: Live and Going Out Live, and where we would be without the pub landlord? Al Murray’s The Only Way Is Epic, from his 2012 tour, refills Britain’s empty pint glasses with his joyous bar-room buffoonery premium brew gags.

I’ll be back on the blog throughout the New Year to let you know what we have coming up. Until then, I hope your Christmas is full of laughs.


Duncan Honeyman

Commissioning Editor, Comedy