Archives for April 2009

[Mark's Brilliant Blog] The World's Most Low Key School Reunion Ever

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Mark Padley | 17:35 UK time, Thursday, 30 April 2009

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Been having a look round the website Dave and came up with a few suggestions to make the best of a bad situation:

  1. More me. The BBC needs a maverick like myself. Rattle a few cages.
  2. 'David Thair' bit formal maybe Dave?
  3. Kittens, everyone loves cats on the internet. It's that or pornography.
  4. How about selling stuff? eBay does really well you know?
  5. BBC Comedy Blog: The Touring Revue Show.  Think about it Dave, the country is crying out for variety shows right now.
Editor's note: I'm not sure how to take this, Mark. I don't agree that the BBC needs more you. Less you is what it needs. Much less. It baffles me that you can still be coming out with this stuff. I mean, you film yourself at a school reunion where no-one's turned up and then put it on the internet? Why would you do that? And then you have the nerve to critique the site that, for whatever mystifying reason, continues to graciously host your nonsense? Please, for pity's sake make something worthwhile next time.You're giving me a headache. - David

Mark Padley does not exist. Mark's Brilliant Blog is brought to you by Hat Trick Productions. Missed a bit? Watch the whole lot here.

ElvenQuest: a new adventure begins

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David Thair | 18:30 UK time, Tuesday, 28 April 2009


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ElvenQuest, a fantastical new comedy show from writers Anil Gupta and Richard Pinto, starts this Wednesday at 6.30pm on Radio 4. We chatted to Anil (whose credits include The Office, Goodness Gracious Me and The Kumars at No. 42) about the programme...

Comedy Blog: For the uninitiated: what is ElvenQuest?

Anil Gupta: ElvenQuest is a sitcom about a misanthropic writer of fantasy novels who finds himself whisked away into a parallel universe by an elf, a dwarf and a warrior princess, where he must undertake to find the Sword of Asnagar in order to save Lower Earth from the evil Lord Darkness before he can get home.

Comedy Blog: What inspired it?

Anil Gupta: Lots of things really. There have been a few comic takes on the sci fi genre (Red Dwarf, Hyperdrive, the film Galaxy Quest) and the recent run of films in the fantasy area (Lord of the Rings, the Narnia stories) meant that it felt like a good time to tackle it.

Comedy Blog: You've a track record of producing some very well known TV comedies. Why the return to radio?

Anil Gupta: Radio is always great fun to do. There is a freedom and immediacy about it that nearly makes up for the tiny amounts of money. Also, they commissioned a series based on a five line synopsis, so we felt we had to repay their trust.

Comedy Blog: Are you particular fans of Tolkienesque fantasy?

Anil Gupta: I wouldn't say we were 'fans', and certainly proper fans would consider us to be complete amateurs. But I do enjoy some fantasy fiction - Terry Pratchett for example, and the William Goldman film, The Princess Bride. As for Tolkein, like many people I loved The Hobbit but struggled with The Lord of the Rings which I daresay makes me a fantasy lightweight.

Comedy Blog: Was your plan to do a fairly straight spoof of Lord of the Rings, or create your own fantasy universe?

Anil Gupta: The plan was never to simply spoof LOTR. Mainly because its been done (Hoard of the Things?) but also because we wanted to create a show which would exist in it's own right. In the best sitcoms the comedy should come from the characters and their inter-relationships, which means they can't simply be two dimensional parodies.

Comedy Blog: Which of your cast was best at silly voices? We hear Alistair McGowan doesn't want to do impressions anymore, but on radio no-one would know it was him as Ian McKellen, Christopher Lee etc...

Anil Gupta: Kevin [Eldon] was brilliant playing two parts (Dean and Kreech) although interestingly, and after much experimentation, the voice he chose for Kreech was relatively straight. But Darren [Boyd] also showed amazing versatility and of course Alistair gave the narrator a touch of the Anthony Hopkins. A lot of the smaller parts are played by Chris Pavlo, so he had to come up with a whole range of different voices, most of them fairly silly.

Also listen out for Stephen Mangan's "Fairy king" in episode 3 - utterly shameless.

Comedy Blog: Finally, who would you be: Warrior, Wizard, Valkyrie or Elf? (Please remember not to shoot the food)

Anil Gupta: Wizard. Obviously.

[Mark's Brilliant Blog] Using the Internet to Meet Someone You Used to Quite Fancy at School

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Mark Padley | 17:04 UK time, Tuesday, 28 April 2009

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Lucky for you Dave my arm's feeling a bit better. No blood on your hands. For the moment.

All this morbid fear of my own body failing me reminds me of being at school. I loved school, mum and dad weren't dead and we got pudding and custard every day.

As an adult I rarely if ever have custard and my parents are both dead. However I do have a credit card, so it's swings and roundabouts. My dead parents are stood in the middle of the roundabout waving at me. And eating custard. Hold me Dave...

Editor's Note:

Keep it together Mark - at least for the next few weeks until I can contractually sever all contact. - David

Mark Padley does not exist. Mark's Brilliant Blog is brought to you by Hat Trick Productions. Missed a bit? Watch the whole lot here.

Reggie Perrin returns: interview with creator David Nobbs

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David Thair | 16:16 UK time, Friday, 24 April 2009

Reggie PerrinStarring Martin Clunes in the titular role, Reginald Perrin returns to our screens tonight at 9.30pm on BBC One in a new series simply called Reggie Perrin. Yes, the classic series has been revived, but this is no Hollywood-style 're-imagining'.

The show's creator David Nobbs has placed his character in the contemporary world - but the pressures of the rat race faced by the original Reggie (played by Leonard Rossiter) remain relevant today, as David explains:

Comedy Blog: What was the original premise behind Reggie Perrin?

David Nobbs: The original series of The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, adapted from my novel, told the story of a man being driven mad by the pressures of the rat race and a job that he found boring and thought fatuous.

The inspiration came from a newspaper article about dark-suited men creating a new flavour of jam: there was a photo of all these earnest men with little jars and spoons sitting round a board room table. I thought two days of that would drive me mad.

Comedy Blog: How did this new incarnation of Reginald Perrin come about?

David Nobbs: The new series was suggested to me and the BBC by Objective Productions [the independent production company responsible for Peep Show]. I thought that enough of the same pressures remained for the series to be relevant today - but also that there had been enough changes in the world of commerce to enable us to make this sufficiently different to be interesting.

Comedy Blog: What did you change for this modern-day update?

David Nobbs: 'Exotic' ices were out. In the days of Heston Blumental, nothing in the world of food is exotic any more. Male grooming seemed perfect, a growth area and many of its products unnecessary.

Comedy Blog: You invented the character and wrote the first three series alone - what's it been like working with another writer, Simon Nye, for the new one?

David Nobbs: I felt that I wanted to be involved in the writing of the new series, but that it was a big ask for me to do it all on my own for a second time. It needed a new look, a fresh approach. Simon Nye was suggested, and I jumped at that.

Comedy Blog: What was the writing process?

David Nobbs: It seemed right to all of us that Simon should try a first draft, giving a modern slant, and this is how we ended up working: detailed discussions, then Simon would write a first draft, and I would come in after that. It's no problem to me that in effect he thus became the senior writer. It was a natural progression.

Comedy Blog: His line of business has changed, but has Reggie?

Chris Jackson and Reggie PerrinDavid Nobbs: One of the biggest changes is that Reggie no longer has children, and that his wife Nicola works and has her own pressures - the stay-at-home wife of 1976 would have seemed unreal in 2009.

The CJ character, now called Chris Jackson, is a more modern boss too - head hunted from the animal foodstuffs sector, knowing nothing about male grooming. Very 2009 in modern Britain, sadly.

For more on Reggie Perrin, watch a clip and read an interview with star Martin Clunes on the BBC News website, and look out on this blog next week for an interview with Simon Nye.

Psychoville: first look

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David Thair | 12:02 UK time, Thursday, 23 April 2009

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Psychoville is the new show from The League of Gentlemen's Reece Sheersmith and Steve Pemberton, coming to BBC Two in the not-too-distant future - and we're very excited to show you this first clip.

It's a comedy-thriller-mystery type thing featuring a central cast, as the press release says, of "an embittered one-handed clown; a desperately misguided midwife; a lovestruck telekinetic dwarf; a blind avaricious collector; and a serial-killer-obsessed man-child" - all of whom are being bothered by the message "I know what you did".

We know a lot more but we're not allowed to tell just yet - but trust us there's twists aplenty. Keep a beady eye on this blog for more details.

Have I Got News For You, News For... You

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David Thair | 18:22 UK time, Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Psst! Check this out - a little web pilot of an idea we're trying. It's a mini HIGNFY to watch on the web in the run-up to the next TV series, hosted entirely by Alexander Armstrong. What do you make of it?

Photos from Comedy Presents

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David Thair | 18:19 UK time, Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Comedy PresentsBy all accounts last night's Comedy Presents event was all kinds of fun, featuring a heady mix of stand-up, music and sketch comedy.

Our mole (well, man) in the room said: "highlights for me were the sketch act Broken Biscuits, doing their third ever live gig (I think we will be seeing a lot more from them as they are working on a TV pilot right now) and the very tall man Phil Nichol brought onstage, who did a marvellous falsetto duet with Phil to I'm The Only Gay Eskimo.

Like the sound of it? Keep an eye on this blog for news of future events coming to a town near you.

Click below to see the very tall man, Broken Biscuits doing a dance, and a certain Mr Matt Berry.

Read the rest of this entry

[Mark's Brilliant Blog] Fun With Video Tape

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Mark Padley | 17:41 UK time, Tuesday, 21 April 2009

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Woke up to find I'd been sleeping on my arm. It's completely dead. I've taken a pen and written 'Dead Arm' on it to avoid confusion. It's a bit like having someone else's arm - not in a sexy way mind. Maureen suggested I try acupuncture so I invited Phillip to come round with his needle collection. He makes all his own clothes you know!

If I'm honest the acupuncture was a qualified success... there was a lot of blood so at least it's still hanging in there. Dave, do you think I should see a doctor?

Editor's note:

I am beyond caring Mark. Do you read any of this back to yourself before posting it? - David

The Omid Djalili Show - returns tonight on BBC One

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David Thair | 18:26 UK time, Monday, 20 April 2009

In case you hadn't spotted: The Omid Djalili Show is back for a new series! Catch it tonight (Monday 20th April) on BBC One at 10.35pm. Until then, watch the clip above repeatedly to keep you going.

[Mark's Brilliant Blog] Mark Padley: Homewrecker

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Mark Padley | 13:35 UK time, Friday, 17 April 2009

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We've all done things we've regretted: I never meant to set that bin on fire. Phillip never meant to eat all those berries growing on the bush outside his house. Dave's mate at work tells me he wanted to be a urological nurse, and look at him now.

We've all made mistakes. Which is what I want you to bear in mind when you watch this video. Kate, if you're watching, please stop putting dog mess through my letter box.

Love, Mark.

Editor's Note: A lot of people think they're going to be a urological nurse when they grow up, Mark. It's nothing to be ashamed of.- David

Clement Freud RIP

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David Thair | 18:02 UK time, Thursday, 16 April 2009

Clement FreudClement Freud, whose distinctive lugubrious style on Just a Minute has been a fan favourite since the show began, has died aged 84.

He was a funny, fascinating man with a career that went way beyond his appearances on the hit programme. Radio 4 Controller Mark Damazer has written about him on the Radio 4 Blog, or you can read a more detailed obituary on the BBC News website, which includes video footage of the television advertisements that made him a star in the 1960s.

Elsewhere, the Just a Minute fan blog has also been paying tribute, and The Times have put together a handy roundup of obituaries and related articles - including this one, written in February last year, in which Clement discusses writing a will.

Comedy Presents: live standup around the country

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David Thair | 15:36 UK time, Thursday, 16 April 2009

Phil Nichol - large
Did you know that the BBC runs a night of live standup comedy that tours the country? It does! Here's who's on the lineup for the next one, which is at 100 Club, London, on Tuesday 21st April:

Comedy Presents

Jon Richardson of BBC 6Music
Tom Deacon of BBC Switch
Broken Biscuits - hi-tech sketch group more to be confirmed.

More details can be found on the Facebook group.

Genius - back this Friday on BBC Two

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David Thair | 16:01 UK time, Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Missing Genius? Don't worry! It was away last week - but it's back this Friday in its usual slot of 10pm on BBC Two.

Here's a clip to tide you over: Dave Gorman in a spot of bother with Johnny Vegas...

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[Mark's Brilliant Blog] Heat Magazine, Vimto and video tape and no sex

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Mark Padley | 17:40 UK time, Tuesday, 14 April 2009

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If I'm honest it could have gone better. I turned up at the Bail Hostel - I had my mac on and the pullover over the mac. But when I got there Phillip was out. I asked one of his room mates where he was and he said something about a bath house which makes no sense because Phillip knows he can come round mine whenever he wants a bath.

You think people who live in Bail hostels are animals but really they're very clever people. This fellow had been making his own wine using a sock and a radiator. I couldn't tell you whether it was any good because the last thing I remember was vomiting into a kind of makeshift bucket which I realised this morning I'd made out of my mac. Think I'm going to stick to blogging.

Editor's Note: If you can call it that. - David

Exclusive In the Loop video: Chad's work/life balance

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David Thair | 14:35 UK time, Thursday, 9 April 2009

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In The Loop is the new movie from the team behind The Thick of It. Previously on the Comedy Blog we featured a Q&A with In the Loop and Thick of It director Armando Iannucci, and now we've got something even more exciting to share with you:

Above is a scene exclusive to this blog (so exclusive, it's not even in the film) featuring new British political advisor Toby and terrifyingly ambitious young Washingtonian Chad. Toby (Chris Addison) and Chad (Zach Woods) are holed up in the US State Department, where everyone's in a flap exacerbated by Toby's gaffe-prone British Secretary of State for International Development - but they can still find a moment to chat about Chad's slightly wonky work/life balance.

While In the Loop, with its steady camera and (subtle) musical score feels more 'cinematic' than the skittish intensity of The Thick of It (which, as anyone who has seen The Blair Witch Project can attest, can get a bit much on the big screen), it has still inherited the same method of cutting together wholly scripted and semi-improvised scenes for added naturalism and the element of surprise.

With this in mind, it's interesting to watch members of the Thick of It cast interact with their American counterparts who were new to the process. Zach is new to British audiences but has long been performing live improvised comedy with The Stepfathers at New York City's Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre - you can watch a load of sketches featuring him on the Upright Citizens Brigade website.

Chris Addison, of course, is actually a relative newcomer to improvisation - having jumped into the deep-end semi-improvising his way through The Thick of It - but has been writing and performing his own stand-up comedy as well as a plethora of TV and radio shows.

Fans of The Thick of It are sure to enjoy In The Loop, but remember: while the two share many facets, with its larger scope and international cast, it's very much its own beast. 

[Mark's Brilliant Blog] The Moment Phillip's Little Heart Broke

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Mark Padley | 16:38 UK time, Wednesday, 8 April 2009

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I've got some great news. I've been asked by the council to be a Community Guardian - I've got a badge and everything. Basically my main duties revolve around reporting fly tipping and informing on suspected benefit cheats. Rich pickings round here! I feel just like Columbo. I've even dug out my dad's old mac.

I'm off to Phillip's bail hostel tonight to go undercover. I'm going to put a pullover over my mac to keep it on the down low. If you're lying on your council tax form about the number of employed occupants or if you've just chucked yet another bed in the back alleys get ready to taste justice. Dave, can you see if Crimewatch are interested in a bit of crossover?

Editor's Note: I'm not even going to begin listing reasons why that isn't going to happen Mark. No. - David

[Mark's Brilliant Blog] Dog Poo: Harmless Fun or Social Menace?

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Mark Padley | 11:24 UK time, Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Now that I've got a blog I've been wondering whether I'm going to become a massively famous like Matthew Kelly or have a cult following like David Coresh. To be honest I think I'd like to be proper famous. I'd love to see my photo in Heat magazine. Lolling in the gutter or having a heterosexual laugh on a beach with David Walliams. I'd be easy either way.

Fingers crossed when I'm famous I'll meet Tony Robinson. I found this really old can of Pepsi buried in my herbaceous border. I'd love to know what he made of it. Dave, how many thousands of views am I getting? Have I overtaken Bargain Hunt Yet? I reckon this video about dog fouling should push us over the top.

Editor's Note: Well Mark, thanks to the unique way the BBC is funded we don't have to chase ratings to judge a project a success. That said, some views would be nice. - David

[Mark's Brilliant Blog] Phillip Fails to Learn a Valuable Lesson on the Value of Sportsmanship

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Mark Padley | 18:05 UK time, Friday, 3 April 2009

All quiet on the Padley front today. I've got a nasty rash thanks to a box of discount Turkish washing powder I bought from the other mini market. Maureen had shut for the day as she had to go into hospital to have something removed. There was a picture of a man with a moustache on the box. Just one scoop of Raschkasham in your wash will disintegrate anything thinner than tarpaulin and leave anything thicker than kevlar a brilliant white.

It has also left my back a livid purple colour. I wanted Phillip to rub some camomile lotion on my back but he said he'll never give another back rub again. Not after what happened in the summer of 93. RE: Rash, can I claim back the camomile lotion on expenses Dave?

Editor's note: You don't have expenses Mark, so please stop sending me empty pizza boxes - even if you did get expenses, which you don't, you can't claim them back with rotten litter. - David

[Mark's Brilliant Blog] A Little Something for Diabetics

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Mark Padley | 18:58 UK time, Wednesday, 1 April 2009

I love a cup of tea - who doesn't? But like any right thinking individual I like a bit of milk in my tea. One time me and my best friend Phillip pretended that we were foreign and had a cup of tea with no milk. Phillip even put jiff lemon in his.

Not only did we burn our mouths (never underestimate the cooling power of milk. I imagine if you touched a cows teat it would be ice cold) but it tasted foul. I spat mine out. Unfortunately I spat it out into Phillips facing giving him 4th degree burns. The shock caused him to spit his tea into my face giving me 5th degree burns (he'd been swilling it manfully for some time so the spit in his mouth must have diluted it a fair bit).

With red faces (both medically and figuratively) we decided never again to drink tea without milk. And that is why Maureen at the local mini market is my milk angel. Enjoy her in this video.

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