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The Goldfish Bowl

Radio 4
Series One 1998 (eight episodes)
Series Two 2000 (eight episodes)

An offbeat but effective series of quarter-hour shows penned by Shaun Prendergast, better known as a writer of thrillers.  Series one featured Susan and Martin (Sarah Parish and Prendergast himself), a warring couple whose relationship was rapidly disintegrating; this developing tragedy, however, was merely the backdrop to the main action, which took place in a glass bowl inhabited by Susan's two pet fish.  Anton (Hamish McColl), a sophisticated, cynical and rather narcissistic guppy, is continually wound up beyond the limits of his patience by the inane conversation of his witlessly cheerful companion Liam (Sean Foley), who also has a habit of composing celebratory songs which contain breathtakingly poor internal rhymes.  The genuinely bleak events unfolding outside the bowl contrast nicely with the much lighter tone of the incessant bickering and surreal cosmic musings to which the piscine heroes are prone. 

Series Two was rather different: Susan was played by a different actress (Tracy Ann Oberman), while Prendergast played a different character, her gay housemate Struan: the relationship between the humans this time around was much more amiable, and hence took up far less time in the programme.  The guppies, meanwhile, were the same as ever, but found themselves in a bewildering new environment: Struan's large and densely-populated fishtank, in which all manner of surrealistic escapades, often based on film or book parodies, unfolded.  For both series, other parts (of which there were many) were played by the four performers as required. 

© JB Sumner 1998-2000.  Last updated 3/5/00