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28 October 2014

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Blue Jam

Chris Morris

Perhaps best described as the funniest nightmare you've never had, Blue Jam is the innovative and award-winning radio comedy that could only have come from the mind of trailblazing comic Chris Morris.

Not long before Blue Jam's first transmission, Morris had courted controversy in the press thanks to his Channel 4 satire Brass Eye (a follow-up to the seminal The Day Today), which had duped a host of celebrities and even MPs to humiliate themselves in supporting some hilarious hoax campaigns (including against Cake, "a made-up drug").

After the media furore, Morris's next move was to once more show his talent for confounding expectations, by returning to the BBC for a far more low-profile project, namely Blue Jam.

An experimental, ambient radio comedy series, it was broadcast in a late-night slot on Radio 1, but nonetheless it displayed all the hallmarks of Morris's warped sense of humour.

The result was quite simply unlike anything else on radio, or TV for that matter, mixing music tracks, samples, darkly comic sketches, recurring characters and heavily edited archive broadcasts.

The use of strange audio effects combined with the choice of music and unsettling material gave the show a unique, sometimes genuinely nightmarish quality, which was clearly revelled in by the writing team of Morris himself, Peter Baynham, David Quantick and Father Ted creators Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews. 

Many sketches concentrated on the world of medicine and the power which doctors can hold over their patients, with a typical exchange being "Doctor, I've sprained my knee." "Right, well what I'm going to do is give you two hundred quid, and I never want to see you again".

The series featured the voice talents of several of Morris's Brass Eye collaborators, including Mark Heap, Amelia Bullmore and Kevin Eldon, as well as sporadically placed disturbing monologues delivered by Morris himself.

But it was the ingenious re-editing of existing material, which Morris had used to great effect in On the Hour, that was to spark yet another controversial incident.

In the sixth episode, a sketch known as ‘Bishopslips’ was broadcast, featuring a re-cut version of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s oration during the funeral of Princess Diana in which he appeared to say inappropriate remarks about AIDS and the Royal Family.

The sketch was faded out before the end, but it's not known whether this was on BBC orders or whether Morris did it himself as a stunt.

Yet another successful vehicle for his anarchic and savage sense of humour, Blue Jam won Sony awards for Best Radio Comedy and gathered a loyal cult following.

As with On the Hour, it also spawned a TV version (Jam) broadcast on Channel 4 and an even more heavily edited remix (Jaaaaaam), which retained many of the actors as well as the dark sense of humour from the radio original.

Walking a thin line between being hilarious and disturbing, Blue Jam showed perhaps Britain's most original comedian at his staggeringly imaginative best.

Cast

Amelia Bullmore
performer
Julia Davis
performer
Kevin Eldon
performer
Chris Morris
performer
Mark Heap
performer
David Cann
performer

Crew

Amelia Bullmore
writer
Julia Davis
writer
Kevin Eldon
writer
Chris Morris
writer
Peter Baynham
writer
Mark Heap
writer
David Cann
writer
Graham Linehan
writer
Arthur Matthews
writer
David Quantick
writer
Jane Bussmann
writer
Robert Katz
writer
Chris Morris
producer

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