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Nigel and Earl Sort Out The World

Radio 5
Series One 1992 (six programmes)
Series Two 1993 (six programmes)

A series whose existence reflected that of Radio 5 itself: followed with feverish admiration by its tiny knot of dedicated enthusiasts, but unpublicised and utterly unknown in the world at large.

The show, written by Joe Turner and Martin Jameson, brought the Northern tradition of surrealist character humour into the realms of topical comedy.  Each week, the titular pair of “professional sorter-outers”, played by Fine Time Fontayne and Andrew Dunn, would attempt to put the world to rights and in doing so encounter all manner of personalities and situations from the week’s news, displaying a customary indifference to the most startling of developments.  Actors playing the additional parts included Joanna Brookes, Jon Glover, Robert Harley and Doon Mackichan.

Both series were repeated across consecutive nights over the Christmas period; the repeats were retitled How Nigel and Earl Sorted Out the World in 1992 and, the following year, How Nigel and Earl Ruled the World in 1993.  By 1994, however, Radio 5 found itself under sentence of death, and it was decreed that the series would die with it.  Nigel and Earl’s status as the tiny network’s cultural ambassadors was confirmed when they reappeared in the last-ever programme to be heard on the station, an edition of Across The Line transmitted on the evening of 27 March, for one final burst of sorting-out.  This included a rage against the intended target of Radio 5’s successor network, 5 Live, the all-conquering “C2DE man/ with his ever-decreasing attention span.”

© JB Sumner 1999.  Created 9/2/99