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The Very World of Milton Jones

Radio 4
Series One 1998 (six programmes; switched, in its original run, from a late-night to an early-evening slot early in the series and without advance notice; one programme broadcast twice as a result)
Series Two 1999 (six programmes)

Stand-up comedian Jones, described as "Britain's funniest Milton", starred in this series, which he also scripted with an absolute bevy of co-writers: Dan Evans, Jon Holmes and Andy Hurst, Mark Evans and James Bachman, Mike Haskins and Tony Roche.  The show had what was probably the most complicated regular format of all time: each programme would begin with Jones, the affable everyman, facing certain death in some unlikely circumstances or other.  As his life flashed before his eyes, his guardian angel would then appear, spend the rest of the show reviewing the events which had led up to his calamitous predicament, and promptly vanish, at which point Jones would be blessed with an incredible narrow escape anyway, thus setting him up for the next episode. 

Most of the sketches and routines were thus based on supposed events from Jones' past life, and there was even a little bit of continuity between shows.  Unsurprisingly, given the number of writers, the material displayed an assortment of different comic styles, although the pun predominated (scene from Milton's school life: "Miss!  Miss!  Miss!"  "What is it, Milton?"  "Nothing, miss, I'm playing battleships.")  In addition to Jones himself, each programme featured a supporting cast of just two, made up in the first series from various combinations of Alexander Armstrong, Melanie Hudson, Joanna Scanlan and Dave Lamb.  Series Two, which employed the same format, used all of these performers again but also found room for impressionists Alistair McGowan and Week Ending stalwart Sally Grace. 

© JB Sumner 1999-2000, with thanks to David Tyler.  Last modified 3/5/00