The Frequency Of Laughter - A History Of Radio Comedy

The Frequency of Laughter is a six-part history of radio comedy, covering 1975-2005, presented by journalist and radio fan Grace Dent. In each episode she brings together two figures who were making significant radio comedy at the same time, and asks them about their experiences. This is a conversational history that focuses on the people who were there and the atmosphere within the BBC and the wider comedy world that allowed them to make great radio - or not.

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
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011975-19802014110120160920 (BBC7)

A look back at radio comedy in the late 1970s, with John Lloyd and Graeme Garden.

This first edition features Graeme Garden and John Lloyd looking at radio comedy in the late 1970s. Graeme by this stage was an established figure, with his breakthrough show I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again morphing into I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, in addition to his work presenting Week Ending and as a panellist on shows such as A Rhyme In Time. John however had only joined the BBC Radio Comedy department in 1973, but he managed to make over 500 shows, co-creating The News Quiz, The Burkiss Way and Quote Unquote as he did so, before leaving for television. Grace asks them about the atmosphere within the Radio Comedy department and within the BBC, and how ideas actually go on air; they share their memories of former Heads of Light Entertainment Radio (as it was then called) Con Mahoney and David Hatch; and they talk about the lack of women in comedy at that time.

The Frequency of Laughter is presented by Grace Dent, a journalist for The Independent, and is a BBC Radio Comedy production.

Presenter... Grace Dent

Guest... Graeme Garden

Guest... John Lloyd

Interviewee... Simon Brett

Interviewee... Yvonne Littlewood

Producers... Ed Morrish and Alexandra Smith.

The Frequency of Laughter is a six-part history of radio comedy, covering 1975-2005, presented by journalist and radio fan Grace Dent. In each episode she brings together two figures who were making significant radio comedy at the same time, and asks them about their experiences. This is a conversational history that focuses on the people who were there and the atmosphere within the BBC and the wider comedy world that allowed them to make great radio - or not.

021980-19852014110820160920 (BBC7)

This second edition features Angus Deayton and Michael Knowles looking at radio comedy in the early 1980s. Angus had been given a writer's contract by the BBC Light Entertainment Radio (as it was then) in 1980, and used the time he was afforded by that to co-create the sketch show Radio Active, in which he wrote and performed. Michael however came to radio from television; having acted in It Ain't Half Hot Mum, he was asked to adapt Dad's Army for radio in the 1970s, which he did to great success, and in 1983 he and Harold Snoad wrote the sitcom It Stick Out Half A Mile, a sort of Dad's Army sequel. Grace asks them about the atmosphere within the Radio Comedy department and within the BBC, and how they might circumvent rules on taste and decency; they share their memories of former Heads of Light Entertainment Radio (as it was then called) Bobby Jaye and Martin Fisher; and they talk about how the alternative comedy movement bypassed radio and went straight to TV - and how it felt to be left behind.

The Frequency of Laughter is presented by Grace Dent, a journalist for The Independent, and is a BBC Radio Comedy production.

Presenter... Grace Dent

Guest... Angus Deayton

Guest... Michael Knowles

Interviewee... Martin Fisher

Interviewee... Peter Richardson

Producers... Ed Morrish and Alexandra Smith.

A look back at radio comedy in the early 1980s, with Angus Deayton and Michael Knowles.

This second edition features Angus Deayton and Michael Knowles looking at radio comedy in the early 1980s. Angus had been given a writer's contract by the BBC Light Entertainment Radio (as it was then) in 1980, and used the time he was afforded by that to co-create the sketch show Radio Active, in which he wrote and performed. Michael however came to radio from television; having acted in In Ain't Half Hot Mum, he was asked to adapt Dad's Army for radio in the 1970s, which he did to great success, and in 1983 he and Harold Snoad wrote the sitcom It Stick Out Half A Mile, a sort of Dad's Army sequel. Grace asks them about the atmosphere within the Radio Comedy department and within the BBC, and how they might circumvent rules on taste and decency; they share their memories of former Heads of Light Entertainment Radio (as it was then called) Bobby Jaye and Martin Fisher; and they talk about how the alternative comedy movement bypassed radio and went straight to TV - and how it felt to be left behind.

021980-198520141108

The Frequency of Laughter is a six-part history of radio comedy, covering 1975-2005, presented by journalist and radio fan Grace Dent. In each episode she brings together two figures who were making significant radio comedy at the same time, and asks them about their experiences. This is a conversational history that focuses on the people who were there and the atmosphere within the BBC and the wider comedy world that allowed them to make great radio - or not.

This second edition features Angus Deayton and Michael Knowles looking at radio comedy in the early 1980s. Angus had been given a writer's contract by the BBC Light Entertainment Radio (as it was then) in 1980, and used the time he was afforded by that to co-create the sketch show Radio Active, in which he wrote and performed. Michael however came to radio from television; having acted in In Ain't Half Hot Mum, he was asked to adapt Dad's Army for radio in the 1970s, which he did to great success, and in 1983 he and Harold Snoad wrote the sitcom It Stick Out Half A Mile, a sort of Dad's Army sequel. Grace asks them about the atmosphere within the Radio Comedy department and within the BBC, and how they might circumvent rules on taste and decency; they share their memories of former Heads of Light Entertainment Radio (as it was then called) Bobby Jaye and Martin Fisher; and they talk about how the alternative comedy movement bypassed radio and went straight to TV - and how it felt to be left behind.

The Frequency of Laughter is presented by Grace Dent, a journalist for The Independent, and is a BBC Radio Comedy production.

Presenter... Grace Dent

Guest... Angus Deayton

Guest... Michael Knowles

Interviewee... Martin Fisher

Interviewee... Peter Richardson

Producers... Ed Morrish and Alexandra Smith.

031985-19902014111520160922 (BBC7)

A look back at radio comedy in the late 1980s, with Hugh Dennis and Jim Eldridge.

This third edition features Hugh Dennis and Jim Eldridge looking at radio comedy in the late 1980s. Hugh first appeared on radio in this period, with shows like The Cabaret Upstairs and Live on Arrival, breaking through with Radio One's Hey Rrrradio! and the Mary Whitehouse Experience. Jim came to radio via poetry, having performed on the John Peel show, but made his name as a sitcom writer in the 70s, having a hit with Parsley Sidings. And in 1985 he launched King Street Junior, a sitcom that was to run for twenty years. Grace asks them about the atmosphere within the Radio Comedy department and within the BBC; they discuss why stand-up was a hit on Radio One; and they talk about how Oxbridge became a dirty word.

The Frequency of Laughter is presented by Grace Dent, a journalist for The Independent, and is a BBC Radio Comedy production.

Presenter... Grace Dent

Guest... Hugh Dennis

Guest... Jim Eldridge

Interviewee... Johnny Beerling

Producers... Ed Morrish and Alexandra Smith.

031985-199020141115

The Frequency of Laughter is a six-part history of radio comedy, covering 1975-2005, presented by journalist and radio fan Grace Dent. In each episode she brings together two figures who were making significant radio comedy at the same time, and asks them about their experiences. This is a conversational history that focuses on the people who were there and the atmosphere within the BBC and the wider comedy world that allowed them to make great radio - or not.

This third edition features Hugh Dennis and Jim Eldridge looking at radio comedy in the late 1980s. Hugh first appeared on radio in this period, with shows like The Cabaret Upstairs and Live on Arrival, breaking through with Radio One's Hey Rrrradio! and the Mary Whitehouse Experience. Jim came to radio via poetry, having performed on the John Peel show, but made his name as a sitcom writer in the 70s, having a hit with Parsley Sidings. And in 1985 he launched King Street Junior, a sitcom that was to run for twenty years. Grace asks them about the atmosphere within the Radio Comedy department and within the BBC; they discuss why stand-up was a hit on Radio One; and they talk about how Oxbridge became a dirty word.

The Frequency of Laughter is presented by Grace Dent, a journalist for The Independent, and is a BBC Radio Comedy production.

Presenter... Grace Dent

Guest... Hugh Dennis

Guest... Jim Eldridge

Interviewee... Johnny Beerling

Producers... Ed Morrish and Alexandra Smith.

041990-19952014112220160922 (BBC7)
20160923 (BBC7)

A look back at radio comedy in the early 1990s, with Richard Herring and Sarah Smith.

This fourth edition features Richard Herring and Sarah Smith looking at radio comedy in the early 1990s, when they were both starting out in - Sarah was the producer who gave Richard his first commission. And while Richard and his double-act partner Stewart Lee made names for themselves as writers and performers, writing for On The Hour as well as their own shows such as Lionel Nimrod's Inexplicable World and Lee and Herring's Fist of Fun, Sarah was forging a reputation as one of the most talented producers around, not only working on Lee and Herring's output but also The League of Gentlemen and The Harpoon. Grace asks them about the atmosphere within the Radio Comedy department and the creative collaboration within it; they share their memories of former Head of Light Entertainment Radio (as it was then called) Jonathan James-moore; and they talk about their time working on Week Ending, Radio 4's flagship topical sketch show which ran from 1970-1998.

The Frequency of Laughter is presented by Grace Dent, a journalist for The Independent, and is a BBC Radio Comedy production.

Presenter... Grace Dent

Guest... Richard Herring

Guest... Sarah Smith

Interviewee... Armando Iannucci

Interviewee... Diane Messias

Producers... Ed Morrish and Alexandra Smith.

041990-199520141122

The Frequency of Laughter is a six-part history of radio comedy, covering 1975-2005, presented by journalist and radio fan Grace Dent. In each episode she brings together two figures who were making significant radio comedy at the same time, and asks them about their experiences. This is a conversational history that focuses on the people who were there and the atmosphere within the BBC and the wider comedy world that allowed them to make great radio - or not.

This fourth edition features Richard Herring and Sarah Smith looking at radio comedy in the early 1990s, when they were both starting out in - Sarah was the producer who gave Richard his first commission. And while Richard and his double-act partner Stewart Lee made names for themselves as writers and performers, writing for On The Hour as well as their own shows such as Lionel Nimrod's Inexplicable World and Lee and Herring's Fist of Fun, Sarah was forging a reputation as one of the most talented producers around, not only working on Lee and Herring's output but also The League of Gentlemen and The Harpoon. Grace asks them about the atmosphere within the Radio Comedy department and the creative collaboration within it; they share their memories of former Head of Light Entertainment Radio (as it was then called) Jonathan James-Moore; and they talk about their time working on Week Ending, Radio 4's flagship topical sketch show which ran from 1970-1998.

The Frequency of Laughter is presented by Grace Dent, a journalist for The Independent, and is a BBC Radio Comedy production.

Presenter... Grace Dent

Guest... Richard Herring

Guest... Sarah Smith

Interviewee... Armando Iannucci

Interviewee... Diane Messias

Producers... Ed Morrish and Alexandra Smith.

051995-20002014112920160923 (BBC7)
20160924 (BBC7)

A look back at radio comedy in the late 1990s, with Paul Schlesinger and Meera Syal.

This penultimate edition features producer Paul Schlesinger, who spent the late 1990s making shows such as the Sunday Format, People Like Us and Absolute Power before leaving to make television, returning in 2005 to become Head of Radio Comedy; it also features Meera Syal whose Radio 4 sketch show Goodness Gracious Me was the first British Asian comedy hit, later transferring to BBC Two. Grace asks them about the atmosphere within the Radio Comedy department and the attitude of TV Comedy department towards it; they discuss the BBC's reaction to the wide range of Black and Asian talent breaking through; and they discuss what it is about media parodies that works so well on radio.

The Frequency of Laughter is presented by Grace Dent, a journalist for The Independent, and is a BBC Radio Comedy production.

Presenter... Grace Dent

Guest... Paul Schlesinger

Guest... Meera Syal

Interviewee... Andrew Caspari

Interviewee... Peter Fincham

Producers... Ed Morrish and Alexandra Smith.

051995-200020141129

The Frequency of Laughter is a six-part history of radio comedy, covering 1975-2005, presented by journalist and radio fan Grace Dent. In each episode she brings together two figures who were making significant radio comedy at the same time, and asks them about their experiences. This is a conversational history that focuses on the people who were there and the atmosphere within the BBC and the wider comedy world that allowed them to make great radio - or not.

This penultimate edition features producer Paul Schlesinger, who spent the late 1990s making shows such as the Sunday Format, People Like Us and Absolute Power before leaving to make television, returning in 2005 to become Head of Radio Comedy; it also features Meera Syal whose Radio 4 sketch show Goodness Gracious Me was the first British Asian comedy hit, later transferring to BBC Two. Grace asks them about the atmosphere within the Radio Comedy department and the attitude of TV Comedy department towards it; they discuss the BBC's reaction to the wide range of Black and Asian talent breaking through; and they discuss what it is about media parodies that works so well on radio.

The Frequency of Laughter is presented by Grace Dent, a journalist for The Independent, and is a BBC Radio Comedy production.

Presenter... Grace Dent

Guest... Paul Schlesinger

Guest... Meera Syal

Interviewee... Andrew Caspari

Interviewee... Peter Fincham

Producers... Ed Morrish and Alexandra Smith.

06 LAST2000-200520141206

The Frequency of Laughter is a six-part history of radio comedy, covering 1975-2005, presented by journalist and radio fan Grace Dent. In each episode she brings together two figures who were making significant radio comedy at the same time, and asks them about their experiences. This is a conversational history that focuses on the people who were there and the atmosphere within the BBC and the wider comedy world that allowed them to make great radio - or not.

This final edition features Justin Edwards and Jan Ravens looking at radio comedy in the early 2000s. Justin is now known for his work on In And Out Of The Kitchen and Radio 4 Extra's Newsjack, but got his first series in 2003 as part of the sketch team The Consultants. Jan's association with radio comedy dates back to the early 1980s when she became the first-ever female radio comedy producer, but became beloved of the Radio 4 audience for her work on Dead Ringers, which started in 2000. Grace asks them about the atmosphere within the Radio Comedy department and within the BBC; they discuss the difference between topical comedy and satire, and whether the Radio 4 audience necessarily wants either; and they discuss the contribution a good sound engineer can make to a programme.

The Frequency of Laughter is presented by Grace Dent, a journalist for The Independent, and is a BBC Radio Comedy production.

Presenter... Grace Dent

Guest... Justin Edwards

Guest... Jan Ravens

Interviewee... Jerry Peal

Producers... Ed Morrish and Alexandra Smith

06 LAST2000-200520141206

The Frequency of Laughter is a six-part history of radio comedy, covering 1975-2005, presented by journalist and radio fan Grace Dent. In each episode she brings together two figures who were making significant radio comedy at the same time, and asks them about their experiences. This is a conversational history that focuses on the people who were there and the atmosphere within the BBC and the wider comedy world that allowed them to make great radio - or not.

This final edition features Justin Edwards and Jan Ravens looking at radio comedy in the early 2000s. Justin is now known for his work on In And Out Of The Kitchen and Radio 4 Extra's Newsjack, but got his first series in 2003 as part of the sketch team The Consultants. Jan's association with radio comedy dates back to the early 1980s when she became the first-ever female radio comedy producer, but became beloved of the Radio 4 audience for her work on Dead Ringers, which started in 2000. Grace asks them about the atmosphere within the Radio Comedy department and within the BBC; they discuss the difference between topical comedy and satire, and whether the Radio 4 audience necessarily wants either; and they discuss the contribution a good sound engineer can make to a programme.

The Frequency of Laughter is presented by Grace Dent, a journalist for The Independent, and is a BBC Radio Comedy production.

Presenter... Grace Dent

Guest... Justin Edwards

Guest... Jan Ravens

Interviewee... Jerry Peal

Producers... Ed Morrish and Alexandra Smith.