On The Hour
"Man is only 90% water, but On The Hour is 100% news!"
The most influential radio comedy of the last 20 years, On The Hour both introduced an array of talent who'd go on to dominate British humour, and set a new bar for satire - it didn't just parody current affairs, but how the news is actually reported.
Written by Chris Morris (who also starred as the show's terrifying Michael Buerk-on-steroids anchorman), Armando Iannucci, Steven Wells, Andrew Glover, Stewart Lee, Richard Herring and David Quantick, its regular cast consisted of Steve Coogan, Patrick Marber, David Schneider, Doon Mackichan and Rebecca Front.
The series presented listeners with a frighteningly well-realised steam-roller of a news show, pompously reporting on stories that initially had the feel of something plausible, until you realised the gleeful nonsense being peddled ("Glass-faced man too disgusting for trial!").
Regular characters included vapid US reporter Barbara Wintergreen; Rosie May, who discussed environmental issues from her 'Green Desk'; religious guidance from Monsignor Treeb-Lopez; the hapless and superbly named Peter O'Hanrahanrahan ("It's the thin end of a very complex wedge!"); and, most famously, Alan Partridge.
Played by Coogan, Partridge helmed the sports desk, but exhibited little in the way of insight into his subject - commentating on a golfer taking a shot, he cries triumphantly, "And he's hit it!". Instead, he's more interested in name-checking himself as often as possible, creating his own mangled metaphors, and enquiring after athletes' groin injuries.
The show ran for 12 episodes over two series, before transferring to BBC Two in the form of The Day Today - at which point Lee and Herring parted company with the project, due to a copyright dispute.
Still sounding fresh and relevant over 15 years later, On The Hour is truly "towards a new Eden".
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