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The Sunday Format
Radio 4
Transmitted pilot, August 1996
Series, 1999 (four programmes)

Three writers whose previous work for radio has garnered rave reviews — John Morton, Nick Revell and Tony Roche — collaborated on this fast-moving, wickedly accurate parody of a subject which has, for years, positively been crying out for comic abuse: the idiot world of the Sunday supplement, with its pointless features, reviews of absurdly overpriced branded kitchenware, empty-headed ‘lifestyle’ journalism, indecipherable brainteasers and full-page adverts encouraging the purchase of limited-edition collector plates.  The programme’s structure ingeniously simulated a browse through the paper, flicking back and forth between the various ‘articles’, so that some pieces could be left behind once the general idea had been put across, while others developed into running gags.

The Sunday Format was first heard as a one-off in 1996 (and was the subject of a few bizarre complaints from listeners objecting that it all moved too fast for them to take everything in…)  The cast, who performed the show as a kind of relay narration, consisted for this recording of Rebecca Front, Simon Greenall, Siriol Jenkins, the comedy duo Alexander Armstrong and Ben Miller, and regular Morton collaborator Chris Langham.  For reasons unexplained, the show did not surface as a series for two and a half years, when an unrevised repeat of the pilot (irritatingly unflagged as such) was followed by three new programmes.  Front, Greenall and Armstrong remained from the original cast, and were joined by writer Revell, Tony Gardner, Tracy-Ann Oberman, Alice Arnold and David Holt.

© JB Sumner 1999.  File created 20/3/99