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The Mark Steel Revolution

Radio 4
1998 (six programmes)

The politically committed star of The Mark Steel Solution (now billed as “comic and Guardian columnist Mark Steel”) returned to radio with a new format for this series, in which each programme was presented as a lecture on the theme of a historical revolution.  Inevitably, there were numerous comic moments, but Steel avoided knockabout treatment of the lecture format (of the kind used by Jeremy Hardy in Jeremy Hardy Speaks to the Nation), frequently playing it entirely straight as he presented his own opinions on the French, Russian, industrial and sexual revolutions, plus the revolutionary consequences of the American Civil War and Darwin’s theory of natural selection.  In attempting to combine genuine historical comment and insight with sufficient humour to avoid alienating the audience, Steel set himself a difficult task, and it’s to his credit that he just about pulled it off.  Readings during the shows were delivered by Carla Mendonça and Martin Hyder.

© JB Sumner 1998