So Radio 1 seems to have turned the corner on investing in comedy

BBC Radio 1
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There's a whole raft of comedy coming up on Radio 1 this Christmas. Can it be turned into a permanent offering?

Ten months ago, we wrote a piece about the news that Radio 1 was going to look into creating some comedy shows. We were reminded of this while listening to the lovely (long) interview Lee did with SSP earlier in the week.
Commenting on what Radio 1 used to be like for comedy, Lee said: ‘When I was a teenager, Radio 1 used to have documentaries on it, spoken word, and for around five years at the end of the eighties and start of the nineties most nights it had an hour of stuff presented by a didn’t have to be a drunk lad, it didn’t have to be like Chris Moyles. You could do clever stuff if you like, no-one stopped you.’
(It’s in the interview from about 25:55 if you want to listen to it.)
That was true up to just a matter of weeks ago. Now, though, there’s a whole raft of projects on the go. 
Watch a short clip of Nick Helm's Radio 1 show here

Fact attack

Facts first: the station last month commissioned three Christmas comedy shows, as well as a new weekly comedy slot in the new year.
Doc Brown (the black one, not Doctor ‘mime’ Brown) is doing one of the Christmas shows on hip-hop and stand-up, also featuring Marlon Davis, Michelle De Swarte and Fergus Craig.
Nick Helm is anchoring another, which is promising to be a variety show that includes other comedians. (UPDATE: the Twitters tells us that Joel Dommett and Holly Walsh were in attendance.)
Roisin Conaty is doing a show on dealing with outlandish situations.
And Tom Deacon, who crosses the crucial young BBC/comedy divide (he was the face of doomed youth strand BBC Switch and also had his first show in Edinburgh this summer), is fronting a new weekly comedy show from the new year.

Thanks, probably, Ben Cooper

There’s quite a lot to unpick here so let’s find some BULLET POINTS.
  • This is awesome news. To underline how really awesome this is, think about the fact that the station seems to be doing this willingly. The last BBC Trust report on Radio 1 didn’t tell them there was a pressing need to get into comedy. They’re doing this of their own volition. That bodes very well for the prospects of comedy on the station in future.


  • It also shows how much the station is trying to change, which is, again, a good sign for the prospects of getting more comedy on air. Stewart Lee names Chris Moyles as the face of laddy excess on Radio 1; he’s been the highest profile casualty of the shake-up during 2012, but check the schedules, and you’ll find pretty much all the old guard (bar Fearne bleeding Cotton) either gone or on their way out. Blandmeister Reggie Yates has been replaced by YouTubers AmazingPhil and Danisnotonfire. Bellowing idiot Vernon Kaye was dropped for has-toyed-with-comedy-video Matt Edmondson. There are what we could perhaps term ‘comedy allied professions’ popping up all over the schedules.


  • Re: the Christmas shows: we know that the station commissioning just two shows doesn’t sound like much, but it’s worth noting that it has become the norm for radio to trial one-offs at Christmas to see if they can be developed into something more permanent. If they go well, there’s every hope they could serve as the blueprint for Radio 1 bringing other voices ‘on board’, as elderly Kiwi Zane Lowe likes to say.


  • The Nick Helm show sounds awesome.


  • The Doc Brown doesn’t appeal to us as much but we’ve never seen Dong live in London, so to speak. And as the 1Xtraier show, this clearly isn’t aimed at us anyway. Which is a point worth bearing in mind whenever you hear anyone criticising Radio 1.


  • Everyone - us included - has harked on about how Chris Morris’s Blue Jam started on Radio 1, and how daring that was, and it’s true - but it’s also an irrelevant point when it comes to talking about the station today. Chris Morris was 35 when he made Blue Jam. In an age where radio stations are slavishly ordered to serve specific audiences, this isn’t a criticism that can be leveled at Radio 1, which has a remit to serve 15- to 29-year-olds. 35, however, is the perfect age for 6Music, who despite their comedy credentials don’t have a single comedy show on their books.


  • We’ll agree that the criticism that young Lee and Herring were allowed to dick about on Radio 1 holds a bit more water but WHO KNOWS what may come of the Nick Helm show.


  • We have no particular thoughts on the Tom Deacon show, other than to note that it’s going to stand or fall on the basis of who they have on. Which, fortunately, we’ve already drawn up a list for. (He’s also doing a road trip ‘thing’ at new year for Radio 1 with Carl Donnelly and Joe Lycett, providing another possible idea to be developed in the future.)


  • We have no idea how the machinations of BBC Radio management work or who to thank for this, but all the changes line up exactly with when Ben Cooper became controller of Radio 1. Erm...thanks?
Doc Brown
Nick Helm
Roisin Conaty
Tom Deacon
Joel Dommett
Holly Walsh
Stewart Lee
Carl Donnelly
Joe Lycett
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