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Elastic Planet
Radio 4
1995 (six programmes)

Brilliantly imaginative series by Ben Moor, which was the first programme to be transmitted in Radio 4ís Late Night Opening strand (which went out late on Wednesday evenings, and originally consisted of two new quarter-hour shows followed by a half-hour repeat).  The series aimed to trace some of the causes and effects which lie in the elastic web of connections making up our experience of the world, and the narrative each week progressed gracefully through a succession of wildly improbable and ostensibly unconnected happenings and scenarios, always mysteriously winding up back at its starting point.  Highlights from the gallery of oddities on offer include the career of the White Mitres, a motorcycle display team made up entirely of bishops, and the Ballagon, a mysterious geometric figure with exactly four-and-a-half equal sides, which was discovered inadvertently during an episode of Johnny Ballís Think of a Number and subjected to a monumental government cover-up.

The show set out to do for the documentary report what The Hitch Hikerís Guide to the Galaxy had done for the travel guide, and measured up well to that demanding ideal.  Like Hitch Hiker, Elastic Planet was interspersed with explanations and elaborations supplied by an amiable narrator: Oliver Postgate, whose voice is instantly recognisable to at least two generations from the soundtracks of Bagpuss, The Clangers and other fondly-remembered childrenís television classics.  A number of celebrity guests (usually Ďexpertsí) appeared as themselves, as did familiar actors including Kerry Shale and Miriam Margolyes.

© JB Sumner 1998