Viz - An Unfeasibly Large Success



Viz was born in a Newcastle bedroom during the Thatcher years. The profanity-laced and flatulence-filled comic took Britain by storm with its taboo-shattering humour. While its blatant disregard for political correctness turned many away in disgust, its gasp-inducing gags made it one of Britain's best-selling magazines. Nick Baker traces the comic back to its Geordie genesis to ask how something so shockingly vulgar ended up under the mattresses of countless teens and under the eyes of business men pretending to read the Financial Times.

Nick's journey begins in Tyneside with the creators of Viz. Brothers Chris and Simon Donald and best friend Jim Brownlow started the 'zine in a bedroom littered with Rotring pens, Tippex and cow glue.

With the equally loved and hated Fat Slags, Sid the Sexist and Johnny Fartpants by his side, Nick tours the Newcastle underground that served as an incubator for Viz. The naughty and risqué content spread like wildfire in the punk scene. Soon each issue of the DIY magazine was consistently selling over a million copies.

As Nick tries to understand this rollercoaster success, his journey is unexpectedly interrupted by old characters in the present day - voiced by Harry Enfield.

Viz's outrageous satire got them in trouble with everyone from the United Nations to Scotland Yard. Accusations of racism, sexism, and insensitivity were part of the daily routine at the office. Comedians from Richard Herring and Alex Lowe to Lucy Porter and Isy Suttie debate whether boundaries should exist in the first place.

Today, sales of Viz have dramatically declined. Nick discusses its place in the pantheon of British comedy with current editors Graham Dury and Simon Thorp.

Producer: Anishka Sharma

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.