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Children’s Hour... with Armstrong and Miller

Radio 4
1998 (four programmes)

A foray into the sitcom format for Alexander Armstrong and Ben Miller, masters of the meticulously-constructed idea sketch.  Children’s Hour, deserving winner of the award for Most Brazen Bad Sitcom Title of the Twentieth Century, was so called because it was set in and around a spurious radio programme also named ‘Children’s Hour’ (not that one), which in turn was so called because — wait for it — the host was called Craig Children.  Camp, abrasive Craig (Miller) and his none-too-bright co-host Martin Bain-Jones (Armstrong) were supposedly music journalists, and ‘Children’s Hour’ was supposedly a cutting-edge, wide-ranging and unbelievably ironic music review show, improbably located on Radio 4.  Whilst on air, the duo waffled incomprehensibly; the series also followed them behind the scenes, where they became embroiled in traditional sitcom mishaps, falling foul of their Radio 1 opposite number, attempting to interview non-existent bands such as the up-and-coming sensation Atering-Catering-Cat, and concealing their numerous glaring mistakes under the cloak of irony.  The final programme of the series (postponed by a week owing to extended news coverage) saw Craig, who was desperate to find a better job, appearing in a television pilot (which required him to work, in an ironic capacity, as a prostitute); Martin, who seemed quite happy where he was, took advantage of Craig’s temporary absence to transform the show into a gigantic game of phone-in hangman.

Additional material for Children’s Hour was provided by David Mitchell and Robert Webb, and the additional roles were taken by Tony Gardner, Charlie Condou and Melissa Lloyd.  The producer, Jon Rolph, appeared in a brief cameo as ‘Children’s Hour’ producer Jonathon Rolph.

See also: Armstrong and Miller

© JB Sumner 1999. Uploaded 10/1/99