The Sunday Format
It's just one of those ideas that you wish you'd had. The Sunday Format was quite simply one of the most original comic vehicles in the last decade.
Hugely admired by the comedy community, it's partially responsible for at least one wedding that we know of - now that's good writing.
John Morton, the mind behind People Like Us, was the man who realized that the language, the dead-end, pointless drivel of Sunday supplements was a rich seam to mine for comedy.
The show skillfully apes the style of these publications which have no purpose other than to decimate the tree population, with articles written by idiots by what appears to be a gang of monkeys.
What The Sunday Format brought to Radio 4 was a way of doing 'broken comedy' in an audio setting. Whilst this was becoming commonplace on TV, it was vastly harder on radio. The Sunday Format came up with a way that was completely natural and breathtakingly simple.
The motif of the show was to ruffle through pages as if the programme were guided by the hands of a not-very-attentive reader, and flick between articles.
Using distinctive styles of writing and voiceover, as well as music, to indicate which article the listener was 'reading' was instantly understandable.
The article-sketches in the show included bizarre horoscopes pandering to everyone's desire to be wonderful, fatuous guides to foreign places written by reviewers only concerned with bigging themselves up, columns on cooking insane dishes or doing your house up in a stupidly fashionable way, interviews with idiotic celebrities and op-ed pieces talking about issues which the writer clearly didn't understand or care about, adverts for supremely silly products, and most wonderfully a crossword that was both surreal and impossible.
The Show is held in extremely high regard by comedy pros. Legendarily it prompted actress Helen Atkinson-Wood to call up John Morton, which led fairly directly to their marriage.
Everything wrong with modern society, accurately transcribed through a newspaper's wet end, The Sunday Format won a Sony and a British Comedy Award for good reason.
It's the best paper you'll read on radio - guaranteed!
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