BBC Radio 4 has plenty of programmes to help cheer up listeners, with a whole host of comedy offerings, from top talent making their Radio 4 debuts, to exciting new comedians and the return of much-loved favourites.
Comics such as Jonathan Pie, Maisie Adam, Chris McCausland, Paul Merton, Jordan Gray and Ken Cheng will be on hand to put a smile on the faces of listeners in the coming months. Just the kind of news to make Blue Monday – reputedly the saddest day of the year – that bit brighter.
Radio 4’s Comedy and Entertainment Commissioner Julia McKenzie said “I am really excited by this year’s range of commissions and hope they bring a bit of fun and laughter to the audience. With stars of the future joining those who are already close to listeners’ hearts, we’ve got something for all tastes.”
New commissions include:
• Room 101 is on Radio 4 for the first time, with host Paul Merton interviewing a wide variety of guests from the world of comedy and entertainment about their pet hates and worst nightmares
• Deliciously acerbic political journalist Jonathan Pie stars in Call Jonathan Pie, a new scripted comedy podcast that goes behind the scenes of his phone-in on BBC Radio, appealing to the huge online following he’s amassed for his comic diatribes
• You Heard It Here First is a panel show where all the questions are based on sound hosted by blind comedian Chris McCausland
• Stand-up Maisie Adam brings her love of football to Radio 4 with The Beautiful Game ahead of the women’s World Cup
• Stand-ups and close friends Michelle de Swarte and Laura Smyth host a new podcast series Should I Bother? Amongst the funny chat they review a range of things that have caught their eye and tell you what’s worth bothering with
• Jordan Gray is writing a sit-com drawn from her own experiences with Spectacular
• The Ultimate Choice goes to series as Steph McGovern poses a series of hilarious dilemmas to the panel and audience
Returning series include:
• Paul Sinha returns with a bumper series of fiendish questions in his Perfect Pub Quiz
• Ellie Taylor’s Safe Space – stand-up based show from Strictly star who tries to persuade the audience on her unfashionable points of view
• DMs Are Open – Athena Kugblenu and Ali Official with a second series of this open door sketch show for Radio 4 Extra, this time it will be a non-topical format and recorded in front of an audience
With these new commissions combined with the year-round topical shows including The News • • Quiz, Dead Ringers and The Skewer and the many other long-running and much-loved series, Radio 4 provides a welcome escape from the January blues.
Listeners can enjoy Radio 4’s comedy shows live and on-demand on BBC Sounds, where nearly half of the top ten most listened to on demand radio programmes in 2022 were comedy titles. Call Jonathan Pie and Should I Bother? have been specially commissioned as podcasts for BBC Sounds.
Other new comedy commissioned for 2023 include:
• Best Medicine – Host Kiri Pritchard-McLean is joined by experts and a comedian where this upbeat format combines amazing stories of medical science and comedy. Piloted in 2022.
• Delightful Sausage: Big Little Questions – Award-winning comedy double act Amy Gledhill and Chris Cantrill attempt to provide answers to curious kids.
• Ken Cheng: I Can School You – Ken follows on from his Chinese Comedian series with a new angle on the key school subjects and what he thinks we should and shouldn’t pay attention to.
• Glenn Moore’s Almanac – One of stand-ups most prolific joke-tellers takes world events and curious facts and figures and combines them with his formative personal stories.
• Jessica Fostekew: Sturdy Girls Club – Stand-up led series about the competitive world of women, weights and muscles.
• Stuart Mitchell’s Cost of Living – Scottish comic takes the audience on a 'gamekeeper turned poacher' stand-up journey through economics and social entrepreneurship.
• Janey Godley – C Word Stand-up storytelling from Janey about her out-of-the-ordinary upbringing and life.
Other returning series include:
• Conversations From A Long Marriage – Joanna Lumley and Roger Allam star in this beautifully observed and critically acclaimed sitcom from Jan Etherington.
• Ability – Domestic sitcom written by and starring disabled comic Lee Ridley as he fights for independence (aka Lost Voice Guy).
• Meet David Sedaris American Storyteller and well-travelled raconteur par excellence.
• Sarah Keyworth: Are You A Boy Or A Girl? – Autobiographical stand-up exploring gender and identity.
• Whatever Happened to Baby Jane Austen – Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French star in this sitcom written by David Quantick about warring showbiz sisters.
• Daliso Chaponda: Citizen of Nowhere – stand-up led show from the perspective of former BGT finalist, the Manchester dwelling Malawian born Daliso.
• Olga Koch: OK Computer – Stand-up with a background in Computer Science looks at aspects of society through a logical lens with the help of her comic AI sidekick.