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Jeremy Hardy Speaks to the Nation

Radio 4
Series One 1993 (six programmes)
Series Two 1994 (six programmes)
Series Three 1997 (six programmes)

A show influenced in style by the Public Information Broadcasts of a bygone era, and accordingly announced in the titles as “A series of lectures in which entertainer Jeremy Hardy examines the vicissitudes of modern living”.  In terms of content, however, what we got was an unmistakeably modern mixture of observational comedy and surreal lifestyle advice, with the odd sketch thrown in, on subjects including “How to be a Leader of Men” and “How to have Sex”.  Writer and main performer Hardy was assisted, in the first series, by Stephen Frost and Debbie Isitt; Frost was replaced by Gordon Kennedy (of Channel 4’s Absolutely) for the second and third series, while Meera Syal and, on one occasion, Caroline Leddy, deputised for Isitt in several Series Three episodes.

Hardy’s comedy is notable for the contrast between his his affable, genteel delivery and his upfront, sardonic and avowedly partisan material.  This has led to his being labelled an ‘incendiary vicar’, and to dozens of listener complaints — mostly relating to his tea-time discussion of “downstairs things and people’s front bottoms”, rather than his uncompromisingly leftist political stance: broadsides along the lines of “A hundred years ago, psychiatric patients were treated abominably because of ignorance.  Today, it’s because of wilful neglect and a Tory government” tended to cheer the studio audience up no end.

© JB Sumner with additional info by David Tyler 1998, 1999. Last modified 9/2/1999