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30/03/2015
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Editor's Note: Roger Bolton discusses this week's Feedback, a special programme from the Edinburgh Festival.

Feedback is available to listen to online or to download and keep

Roger Bolton - presenter of Feedback

In my imagination Edinburgh is always a cold city.

I first came here with my Cumbrian church youth club on Boxing days, when all the shops in England were closed but those in Scotland open. We toiled up the Scott Monument and the Castle Mound, before, almost frostbitten, we returned to the fug of our bus and the romantic ride back home.

Later, when I was a television programme editor and executive, Edinburgh meant the TV Festival, an almost hermetically sealed event where we argued and fought over issues such as the coverage of the Troubles, and dreamed of a far off world where there were more than four TV channels.

The Edinburgh Festival itself largely passed me by until, in the early 80s, I saw Brian Glover in a wonderful National Theatre production of the York Mystery Plays. Glover was a totally convincing God looking down on his sheep from a fork lift truck.

I knew about the Edinburgh Fringe of course, having just about worn out my record of Beyond the Fringe, featuring Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Alan Bennett and Jonathan Miller, but hardly went to any shows.

This year is different.

BBC radio is here at the Fringe in force, transmitting more than 100 broadcasts over 24 days, for virtually all its networks, and producing shows solely for Edinburgh audiences.

Simon Mayo and Richard Bacon, among others, have done their broadcast shows from here and the News Quiz and the Unbelievable Truth, among other Radio 4 programmes, have recorded editions here.

Why? The answer is the amazing amount of performing and writing talent which descends on this city in august and has plenty of time between shows to appear on the BBC.

Feedback is here because the Fringe is a mecca for comedy, a subject which splits the audience like no other. A good example is Count Arthur Strong, inexplicable to some, hysterical to others.

We recorded this week's programme a couple of hours before its first transmission in front of an audience of around 300 in the Blue tent next to the University, and also using questions from the audience at home.

I hope you like it and laugh at the jokes, most of which were intentional.


Roger Bolton

PS This is the last Feedback of the present run. We return in the autumn, so do tell us what we ought to be covering. You set the agenda, not the BBC.

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  • Comment number 4. Posted by This is a colleague announcement

    on 26 Aug 2013 17:39

    There's nothing much funnier, than someone with absolutely no sense of humour at all. As Peter Kaye was told by a Yorkshirewoman, when he asked her what she thought of his show: "It's all right. If you like laughing".

    At the risk of being the butt of such mirth, I admit I've never, ever, once laughed at anything I've heard re Count Arthur Strong. (Nor Doonesbury, incidentally).

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  • Comment number 3. Posted by Lawrence Jones

    on 25 Aug 2013 11:06

    The Count Arthur Strong issue is really about the South versus the North – and the southern misperception of the north. Almost all R4 comedy is Southern public sector flavoured: The Castle, Bleak Expectations, Clare in the community, The Submarine Comedy……The disappointing aspect of that concerned the female officer who had to speak with an upper-class accent that southern men would find sexy. R4 does this all the time. Ed Reardon’s ‘Ping’ was another example. I have counted 2 snide – and completely inaccurate – ‘jokes’ about Liverpool on The Now Show, yet we never hear jokes about upper-class Southern Oxbridge twits (and we all know the reason why). The Now Show is more southern than the Queen.

    I have a feeing that everyone who works at R4 was a goodie-goodie when they were at school. The Saturday Review team panned ‘The School’ a few weeks ago. The SRT never laugh or giggle. I think The School is hilarious and I am in awe of Ms. Tate’s acting in this series. I even laughed at Mr Walliam’s pied piper walk when he played the oboe accompaniment to ‘Imagine’ (bad choice). I could tell that he isn’t musical and I found that very funny.

    I wanted to know during that interview why Ms. Raphael enjoyed Count Arthur Strong – simply because she’s clearly a southerner. I recall a Feedback Interview when she informed Mr Bolton that she is a drama graduate. If this is the case, then why didn’t she try to impersonate Count Arthur Strong during that interview? I don’t understand why comedy commissioning editors and producers never laugh. I was driving to work the other morning and almost crashed my car laughing at Ms. Susan Rae’s ‘House Martin’ joke (after ‘Tweet of the Day’). My radio character analysis programme isn’t always accurate, but I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that Ms. Rae wasn’t a goodie-goodie during school days (and no disrespect meant to Ms. Rae – in case she actually was a goodie-goodie!)

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  • Comment number 2. Posted by newlach

    on 24 Aug 2013 21:23

    I thought Radio 4 listeners had got shot of Count Arthur Very Weak for good - but possibly not! He is not funny. Let me say it again: NOT FUNNY. He is on television and if he gets the boot make sure he lands well away from my ears. If Caroline Raphael can't find anything better than Strong at the Fringe it is time to place her on the BBC executive "refresh and replenish" list.

    "I heard Cadbury's (other chocolate bar manufacturers are available) are bringing out a chocolate bar for the oriental market. Maybe it's a Chinese Wispa!"

    I would have added an "Och aye the noo" in a silly voice or maybe a quick blast of canned laughter at the end of the joke for added comic effect.

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  • Comment number 1. Posted by Queencole

    on 24 Aug 2013 10:31

    This last programme, from the Edinburgh Festival or Fringe or whatever, is the only episode I have ever switched OFF. Awful, what a waste of space and time.

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