Back in 1980, commercial radio had only been running in the UK for a few years when a new local station burst onto the airwaves Ö Radio Active. Being difficult (if not impossible) to pick up with conventional radios, they had to make do with a series of live link ups with BBC Radio 4. Or so the perpetrators would have us believe Ö it was actually a novel sendup of the fledgling industry inspired by the 1978 Oxford University student show which was adapted for the 1979 Edinburgh Fringe.
The first of these so-called "simulcasts" took place on April 8th 1980 as part of The Oxford Review, and starred Helen Atkinson Wood, Angus Deayton, Philip Pope, Karen Rasmussen, Michael Stevens, and David Jackson Young. The BBC subsequently commissioned a series of six further link ups under the title Radio Active which were aired eighteen months later. In the series, Rasmussen and Young were replaced by Geoffrey Perkins and (occasionally) Morwenna Banks. Eventually the programme would run to some fifty editions (plus a couple of specials).
:: THE RADIO ACTIVE STAFF
|ANGUS DEAYTON...||..Mike Channel - the stationís "imploding" personality, who started out as a presenter of a peak time weekday show, was moved to the Sunday morning 4am time slot, and ended up as Aaron The Aardvark on the Saturday morning kiddies show.|
|..Sir Norman Tonsil - the pompous, opinionated and downright obnoxious Chairman.|
|..The Right Reverend Reverend Wright - the resident Head of Religious Affairs, with a liking for heavy metal hymns.|
|GEOFFREY PERKINS...||..Mike Flex - the cocky presenter whose career was heading in the opposite direction to Channelís.|
|..Oivind Vinstra -a Norwegian DJ with a poor command of English (an inexpensive announcer).|
|HELEN ATKINSON WOOD...||..Anna Daptor - the podgy host of the midday show, whose obsession with food caused all sorts of problems.|
|..Anna Rabies - the very aggressive agony aunt, whose solution was usually to kill the source of the problem.|
|MICHAEL FENTON-STEVENS...||.."Uncle" Mike Stand - the 'kiddies favourite', whose well-intended actions inevitably lead to his arrest for child molesting.|
|..Martin Brown - the shyest DJ on radio who started out on the local hospital radio 4am show and was employed for one reason - he was cheap.|
|PHILIP POPE||..(Oh so daring) Mike Hunt. - the station's daredevil, who performed stunts which even a five-year-old would consider tame.||..Nigel Pry - a one-man accident black-spot who often demolished the studio within seconds of starting his show.|
|..Dr Philip Percygo - the singing medico.|
Over the years the show sent up just about every sort of radio programme, ranging from mass debates (Are you in favour of all-out nuclear destruction?), cookery (I thought everybody knew coq au vin was a recipe with chicken and I can't be held responsible for what has happened to your husband) and unbiased election specials (with the station chairman, Sir Norman Tonsil, standing as the candidate for the Free - Enterprise - Bring - Back - The - Rack - And - Send - Home - All - Those - With - A - Touch - Of - The - Tar - Brush - In - Them - Democratic - Party in the Thodding by-election) to a fly on the wall documentary about an average family (Mr and Mrs Famley) with intimate details of their disintegration, nervous breakdowns and the major fire caused by a faulty microphone lead.
Each episode had a musical break usually written by Philip Pope, but over the series, Steve Brown, Angus Deayton and Keith McCullock all contributed, which consisted of a send up of a popular group or artist. One of these groups was the Hee-Bee-Gee-Bees, that well-known trio of Norris, Dobbin and Garry Cribb as portrayed by Pope, Deayton and Stevens. The trio began releasing commercial recordings even before Radio Active began and their "life story" was profiled in a Radio 2 documentary broadcast in 1981.
The shows were broken up by a wide range of advertisements including send ups of real ads (the sound of someone being violently sick followed by "I bet he drinks Carling Black Label") and exclusive products (suck Quillies throat lozenges). A regular advertiser was Honest Ron (Stevens), who threw in a visit from six out-of-work jockies bent on rearranging parts of your anatomy if you didn't pay up on time.
Also broadcast were blindingly obvious public information advertisements to warn you against such activities as letting small children play in the fast lane of a motorway.
Radio Active tried to help the community with a wide range of telephone help-lines including the I'm In Trouble Line, the Oh God, I'm Unemployed Line and the Christ Almighty, I'm Starving To Death Here And You Bastards Don't Seem To Be Able To Do Anything About It Line.
Radio Active was immensely popular but had it's controversial moments. The satire on religious broadcasting (aired on September 12 1987) provoked a series of complaint letters in the Radio Times when some took it the wrong way. The D-Day show (November 1 1986) also received complaints with apologies being demanded by some of those who had fought at Normandy.
The show ran for a total of seven seasons. There were rumours of an eighth season, but instead the team transferred to television in May 1989 as part of the Comic Asides series. This was a showcase for five 'pilot' programmes (akin to the Comedy Playhouse series which spawned Steptoe And Son and many others back in the 1960s and 1970s).
In the move from radio to tv, the idea switched from being a commercial radio station to a satellite tv company, and in the process gained a new chairman - Sir Kenneth Yellowhammer. Unfortunately another group was already using the name SKY TV, so the "Sir" part was dropped. He lead the station in an aggressive drive for what the Radio Times described as "a headlong chase for ratings at the expense of quality".
Some new characters appeared such as Mad Hattie, the fitness expert, and Rabbi Rabbit - a glove puppet who appeared in the religious broadcasts.
Much of the material in KYTV was taken from Radio Active including a charity fund-raiser, the D-Day special and a fly-on-the-wall documentary (this time featuring Mr and Mrs Walls). TV sendups included Challenge Anna, in which Anna Daptor had to locate a spleen for a life-saving transplant operation and a documentary about the making of the play David Chizzlenut (loosely based on an idea by Charles Dickens). Other Radio Active ideas surfaced in modified form such as Brown Nose Day, sending up the BBC's Red Nose Day. (where twenty-five bare foot East End kiddies set off across Antarctica with KYTV T shirts, sandwiches and buckets and spades to recreate Captain Scott's expedition).
The shows were principally written by Angus Deayton and Geoffrey Perkins, with additional material by Jon Canter, Richard Curtis, John Docherty, Michael Fenton-Stevens, and Moray Hunter, and the series was produced, over the years, but Jimmy Mulville, Jamie Rix and David Taylor.
Radio Active was honoured with the BPI Award for Best Radio Comedy Show of 1981, the Sony Award for Best Light Entertainment Programme of 1982 and the Premio Ondas of 1983. KYTV won the Silver Rose of Montreaux in 1994.
:: RADIO ACTIVE
The Hee Bee Jee Bees Story was first broadcast on BBC Radio Two. All of the other shows were first broadcast on BBC Radio Four.
|Pilot||The Oxford Review||8/4/80|
|1/1||The Late Show - Mike Channel||8/9/81|
|1/2||Bedrock - The Early Morning Breakfast Show - Mike Flex||15/9/81|
|1/3||Midday Show - Anna Daptor||22/9/81|
|1/4||The Radio Active Roadshow||29/9/81|
|1/6||The Mike Stand Show - Radio Active Awards||13/10/81|
|Special Show||The Hee Bee Jee Bees Story (Intro.by Paul Burnett)||19/12/81|
|2/1||The History of Radio Active||16/8/82|
|2/3||Good Day Sport||30/8/82|
|2/4||What's Going On||6/9/82|
|2/5||The Nigel Pry Show||13/9/82|
|2/6||Pick of the Week||20/9/82|
|3/2||Probe Round The Back||19/7/83|
|3/4||Repeat After Three||2/8/83|
|3/5||Lunchtime With Anna||9/8/83|
|3/6||What's Going On at the Edinburgh Festival||16/8/83|
|Christmas Special||Radio Active's Christmas Turkey||20/12/83|
|4/1||Salute to New York||9/7/84|
|4/2||The Martin Brown Show||16/7/84|
|4/3||Round Your Parts||23/7/84|
|5/3||Out of Your Depth||19/7/85|
|5/5||Get Away With You||2/8/85|
|5/6||Wey Hey It's Saturday||9/8/85|
|5/8||Did You Catch It?||23/8/85|
|6/1||A Thodding By-Election Special||11/10/86|
|6/2||The Fit and Fat Show||18/10/86|
|6/3||Radio Active's Bogie Awards||25/10/86|
|6/4||The D-Day Show||1/11/86|
|6/5||Radio Active Goes to the Movies||8/11/86|
|6/6||Stop That Crime UK||15/11/86|
|6/7||In House Documentary||22/11/86|
|7/1||It Was 20 Years Ago Last Tuesday||29/8/87|
|7/2||Radio Radio Programme||5/9/87|
|7/3||God Alone Knows||12/9/87|
|7/4||Probe Round The Back||19/9/87|
|7/5||Mike Says - Here's a Bit of Talent||26/9/87|
|7/7||You and Your Things||12/10/87|
|7/8||Mega Phone In||19/10/87|
All of the following were first broadcast on BBC2
|1/1||The launch of KYTV||3/5/90|
|1/2||Big Fight Special||10/5/90|
|1/3||The Green Green Show||17/5/90|
|1/4||Those Wonderful War Years||24/5/90|
|1/5||It's A Royal Wedding||31/5/90|
|2/2||God Alone Knows||24/3/92|
|2/3||Good Morning Calais||31/3/92|
|2/6||Speak For Yourself||21/4/92|
|3/1||Making Of David Chizzlenut||17/9/93|
|3/2||Those Sextiting Sixties||24/9/93|
|3/3||Fly On The Walls||1/10/93|
|3/4||2000 'n' Whither||8/10/93|
|3/6||Get Away With You||22/10/93|
:: COMMERCIALLY AVAILABLE MATERIAL
|Meaningless Songs / Posing In the Moonlight||Original records/R.C.A. single ABO2 (1980)|
|439 Golden Greats - The Original Hee Bee Jee Bees||Original records/RCA LP TWITS101 (1981)|
|Meaningless Songs (The Hee Bee Jee Bees) / (Dancing) Up The Wall (Jack Michaelson) / Dead Cicada (The Beagles) / Quite Ahead Of My Time (David Bowwow) / You're My Son (Kenny Rogered) / Boring song (Status Quid) / Ah! (The Hee Bee Jee Bees) / Too Depressed To Commit Suicide (The PeeCees) / Simple Song (Paul McCarthrob and Wangs) / Granma (St Winnalot's Reform School Choir) / Music Machine (Babba) / Oh Me! (Larry Pilsson) / Bird Of Peace (Neil Dung, Bob Vylan, The Bland, Frank Sumatra, Dean Martian, Leonard Crowing, George Harrassing)|
|Too Depressed To Commit Suicide / Up the Wall + Meaningless Songs||Original Records / R.C.A. single HGBG 1 (1981)|
|Boring Song / Dead Cicada||Original Records / R.C.A. single HGBG 2 (1981)|
|Radio Active||BBC LP REH 471 (1983)|
|Highlights from series 1 and 2: Police File + Shipping Forecast / Commercial Break / Ches And Des / Luscivia In The Foyer / Dedication + Wordplay Jackpot / Radiothon / Kate Bosch / Pensioner At The Ritz / Soap Box Corner / Commercials (Wilsonís Cricket Bat + Martinís Of Bond Street) / S.O.S. Message / Thought For The Day / Sword Fighting / Results Service / Next Time / Incorrect Traffic Report / Commercial Time (Bad Breath Advert) / Bob Dylan Sings / Sootyís Magic Show / David Copperfield / Hymen and Carbuncle / Playhouse / Masterquiz / Commercials (The Basement + Nappies) / Adventure Holiday / Wang Wang / Should You Find Any Fault|
|Hee Bee Gee Bees Present - 20 Big No. 2ís||J&B LP (Australia only) JB197|
|Pretty Boys On Video (Drone Drone) / Kiss And Make Up (Couture Club) / Purple Pants (Ponce) / When Two Songs Sound The Same (Frankie Goes To the Bank) / Wherever I Lay (Paul Yuk) / Scatological Song (Supertrash) / Down Tools (Men Relaxing) / Dancelot (Poxy Music) / Toyland Rhapsody (Queer) / Gary Clitter Is Back (Gary Clitter) / Get ĎEm Off, Irene (Sexist Midnight Runners) / I Donít Want Your Baby (Human Leak) / Me! (The Kids From Shame) / Bored In The USA (Bruce Springbok) / Song Without A Tune (Billy Idiot) / Curdled Milk And Boot Polish (Paul McCarthrob And Stevie Blunder) / Are Trains Electric? (Gary Inhuman) / Out Of Proportion (Jack Michaelson) / A Donít Wanna Smoke Anymore Dope (Eddy Grunt) / Lies (Spamdown Belly) / We Canít Have Hits Of Our Own Anymore (Stars Over 45: Kenny Rogered, Dolly Hardon, Julio Insidias, Bob Vylan, Frank Sumatra, Paul McCarthrob, John Denture, Jack Michaelson and The HeeBeeJeeBees)|
|When two songs (sound the same) - Frankie Goes To The Bank / Purple pants - Ponce||10 Records single TEN61 (1989)|
|Radio Active||BBC / Canned Laughter ZBBC 1522 (1993)|
|Features Mega Phone In and Martin Chizzlenut|
|Further Selections From Radio Active||BBC / Canned Laughter ZBBC 1718 (1995)|
|Radio Active||BBC/ ZBBC 1718 (ISBN 0563 390549)|
|This double cassette contains the material previously released on the first canned laughter tape (ZBBC1522) and the BBC Record REH 471|
KYTV BBCV 5193
Featuring The Making Of David Chizzlenut / Those Sextiting Sixties / Fly On The Walls
Radio Active Times
Sphere Books paperback, 1986
Penguin paperback 1989
(Includes the scripts of Three Way Quiz and Martinsí Of Bond Street)