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Naked Radio

Radio Scotland
First broadcast 1980??
Last broadcast 1990/1?

One of the great sketch shows of the eighties (some would say the great sketch show of the eighties), Naked Radio tends to be overlooked on account of its Scotland-only transmission, which meant most of the population of these islands were denied the privilege of hearing it.  It did, however, spawn a television successor, the stupidly-titled Naked Video, which was something of a hit across the UK around the turn of the 1990s.

The theme unifying Naked Radio's fast-paced sketches and one-liners was the show's "Scottish brief": writers were expected, in keeping with the show's localisation, to concern themselves mainly with issues affecting Scotland and the Scots.  This was not the handicap it might appear: in fact, since the field of open targets thus included religious disharmony, Muriel Gray, Superscots, Dounreay and the Broons, it's difficult to see how they could have put a foot wrong.  And, lest we forget, there was the Poll Tax: civilisation's loss with the introduction of this more than slightly unpopular measure was undeniably satire's gain, and, owing to Scotland's unsought 'Testing Zone' status during the late Thatcher years, Naked Radio was in a position to express its pointed views on the matter a year ahead of the rest of Britain.  The show often contained a high degree of topical material, which tended more towards satire than parody, and its freshness often outclassed the sometimes lumbering Week Ending.  The rest of the time, the show traded in the kind of ethnic take-off Goodness Gracious Me would bring to prominence the following decade: a Hebridean restaging of Baywatch was particularly memorable, and one regular character was a drunken Glaswegian disc jockey attempting to perform the role of Dave Lee Travis -- this creation's name, 'Rab C Nesbitt', was soon to become legend.

Over its lifetime of roughly ten years the show featured numerous performers including Ron Bain, Louise Beattie, Kate Donnelly, Gregor Fisher, Andy Gray, Gerard Kelly, Susan Nisbet, Tony Roper, Elaine C Smith, Annette Staines, Jonathan Watson and Paul Young.  There were also a great many writers, of course, most of them also to be found among the credits of other Scotland-originated shows such as A Kick up the Eighties, Laugh?  I Nearly Paid My Licence Fee and Scotch and Wry.  Among the major contributors were Ian Pattison, Philip Differ, Niall Clark (all of whom produced the show at one stage or another), Bob Black, Rikki Brown, Iain Campbell, Tom Cowan, Alan Hay, Neil MacVicar and Brendan McGeever.  There were also regular songs from the likes of Peter Nardini and David McNiven.  BBC2's Naked Video, featuring the additional acting talents of Helen Lederer and John Sparkes, but minus most of the Scotland-specific material, ran for several seasons and was received as a highly proficient quickfire sketch show.  The show had another TV spin-off in the shape of Only An Excuse (working through a perennial Naked Radio obsession, Scottish footballing mediocrity), whilst Rab C Nesbitt -- by now a string-vested street philosopher -- received his own sitcom series in the early 1990s, a project which is, incredibly, still running almost a decade later.  A few years after the demise of Naked Video, a pilot of a similar show named Pulp Video,  with some involvement from its originators, was transmitted, although no series followed.

© JB Sumner based on info provided by Richard H 1999.  Created 27/6/99