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Summary

All 12 episodes of the sitcom written by and starring Linda Smith, featuring her eccentric East London escapades.

Linda Smith lives in her East London home, where her daily routine involves dozing through Thought for the Day, filing and cross-referencing the pizza leaflets that come through her door, and updating her limited edition 'Songbirds of Great Britain' porcelain collection. That is, when she's not managing the chaos caused by her flamboyant, sugar-loving live-in builder Chris; dealing with the demands of her morbid, crumbly boned Welsh neighbour Betty; or taking regular jaunts chauffeured by Worra, the philosophical Nigerian cabby.

In these two series, Linda falls foul of the dodgy East End mafia when she tries to get Betty's 'Jack the Ripper' letters authenticated; attempts to broker a peace deal between her builder and her neighbour; and has her laid-back lifestyle disrupted by an upturned whelk-shaped heritage centre. Plus, Betty gets involved with Ground Force, Chris finds fame on 999 Emergency and Sir Cliff the tortoise faces a bionic refit....

Full of her trademark deadpan observations and freewheeling flights of fancy, this witty, surreal series showcases Linda Smith's comedy genius and features a star cast including Chris Neill as Chris, Margaret John as Betty and Femi Elufowoju Jr as Worra.

Production credits

Written by and starring Linda Smith

Produced by Lucy Armitage and Jon Rolph

First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 12 July-16 August 2001 (Series One), 4 June-9 July 2002 (Series Two)

Cast

Chris - Chris Neill

Betty - Margaret John

Worra - Femi Elufowoju Jr

Other parts played by Jeremy Hardy, Hattie Hayridge, Martin Hyder, Mark Steel and Rob Newman

Special guests: Rabbi Lionel Blue, Jenni Murray, Don Estelle, Dillie Keane, Kim Wall and Mia Soteriou

With Peter Donaldson as the radio announcer and Colin Sell at the piano.

©2021 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd (P)2021 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

Critic reviews

"One of radio's most sorely missed talents...it's a real treat to hear both her writing and her voice again." (The Guardian)

What listeners say about A Brief History of Timewasting: The Complete Series 1 and 2

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A sheer joy!

Wonderful that the entire series is available together on audible at last. Linda’s delivery, timing and flights of fancy are a joy. The silliness of her ideas takes you right back to her live shows - brilliant!

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A wonderful reminder of a very funny person

Linda Smith was a comedy genius, taken from her adoring fans way too early. Apart from her numerous appearances on the News Quiz and Just a Minute which required her to use her mastery of spontaneous wit Linda could turn out a well crafted sitcom script, which is exactly what she did with A Brief History of Timewasting. Subtle wordplay, combined with in your face double entendres and a fantastic cast made this show a pleasure to listen to. To round off this collection of both series of Timmewasting there is a wonderful tribute to Linda, hosted by Andy Hamilton. A great addition to my Audible library.

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Gentle comedy from a much missed comedian

I’m so glad I was able to find this again having heard it originally twenty years ago. It’s not a laugh out loud comedy it’s very gentle British humour and while a few references are slightly out of date now it’s remarkable that so many are still relevant now after 20 years.
With guest stars that you will undoubtedly recognise from many other radio 4 comedies this is just a delightful listen and so enjoyable for a long car ride.

NB - the chapter headings in the app are mixed up slightly. The audio order is correct it’s just a couple of titles aren’t accurate