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Episode 1

1 hour
First broadcast:
Sunday 24 April 2011

Jorrocks's Jaunts and Jollities - 'a noisy, vital, impertinent social satire full of zest and high spirits' - was published in 1838 to great acclaim and introduced Dickens to the style of bold comic writing he went on to make his own. Surtees' writing was a significant inspiration for Pickwick Papers.

John Jorrocks is one of the great comic characters of English literature, a sporting cockney grocer, vulgar, good-natured, Master-of-Foxhounds and a social hero among the old hunting fraternity.

Set at a time when the 'sport' was changing from being a popular and inclusive neighbourhood event - the old fashioned farmer's hunt - into a more pretentious, exclusive and expensive activity - it displays great irony as the rapidly expanding middle class began to show more of a disdain and dislike of tradesmen (like Jorrocks) than the blue bloods and gentry ever did.

Jorrocks's Jaunts and Jollities gives a brash, honest, funny portrait of an innocent, naive England which is only just beginning to register the profound social changes brought on by the industrial revolution.

It depicts an almost Shakespearian world-order where everyone happily occupies their place in the scheme of things....a world-order which we see being taken over and transformed by the grasping, shameless Victorian nouveau riche.

Surtees (and Scott Cherry) gives us a gallery of unforgettable comic characters - and, at the programme's heart, a true Falstaff, in the irrepressible, loveable, indefatigable rogue that is John Jorrocks - fighting to preserve the English way of life he knows and loves.

Scott Cherry - who previously gave us somewhat irreverent versions of "Humphry Clinker" (Smollett) and "Mr Sponge's Sporting Tour" (Surtees) - once again turns his comic imagination and free inspiration to the recreation of the world of Jorrocks and Handley Cross.

Doleful is charged as Master of Ceremonies to turn Handley Cross into a spa town to rival Bath. He confides all his doubts to his "imaginary friend" - Beau Nash who helps out with his own experiences. But the tide of apathy is in danger of sweeping all their best laid plans away; there seems to be only one way out....to introduce fox hunting to the town. Enter the sporting hero to rival all before him - John Jorrocks.

Jorrocks ..... Danny Webb
Nash ..... Clive Swift
Doleful ..... Charles Edwards
Miss Barnington ..... Rebecca Saire
Mello/Moonface ..... Gareth Armstrong
Julia Jorrocks ..... Emma Pierson
Muleygrubs ..... Christian Rodska
Pigg/Bray ..... Rob Hudson
Simpkins ..... Geoffrey Beevers
Barnington ..... Grant Gillespie

Producer: Clive Brill
A Pacificus production for BBC Radio 4.


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