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Editor reviews

"The best comedy on radio." (The Independent)

Summary

Creator of The Thick of It, I'm Alan Partridge and Veep and films In The Loop and The Death of Stalin, Armando Iannucci is probably the most famous writer/director/satirist of his generation. Here he hosts his own award-wining radio show.

Comedians who guested over the four series include David Mitchell, Michael McIntyre, Russell Howard, Miranda Hart, Jo Brand, Phill Jupitus, Clive Anderson and a young John Oliver (before he was launched to stardom on The Daily Show).

In the first series, Armando Iannucci and his guests pull apart the news with a heady mix of topical comedy, messed-about archive, chat and outrageous fibs, recorded in front of a live studio audience. Across the complete six episodes, they start a new religion and update some Cockney rhyming slang, and as the strike by BBC workers starts to bite and the army steps in, we hear a debate on breastfeeding from 'Woman's Hour' hosted by Gunner-Sergeant Harry Donaldson of the 5th Norfolk Fusiliers. In another show the team take a look at the new Star Wars epic and debate the right of the Sith to wear a hood in a public galaxy, whilst simultaneously fending off a bid by Malcolm Glazer to buy a 75 percent stake in the programme as it goes out, and in yet another show they make a List of the 100 Best Lists Ever and end up ringing Jimmy Carr's answerphone to find out the winner....

In series 2, Armando and his guests episodes, they worry about a new spate of middle class illnesses, including repetitive divorce injury, recyclists's elbow and having to stay in all day to await delivery of a trampoline-itis. Meanwhile, as the cult of daredevil Book for Boys grows, Armando shows off his I've actually got a sawn-off knife, which is actually just a handle. In another episode, they debate whether Chris Moyles should be punished for his use of the word 'gay' on his Radio 1 breakfast show or whether he should just be punished in general.

In the third series, Armando Iannucci and his guests check that all the jokes have to be strictly in accordance with legal norms. For example, 'Knock knock'. 'Who's there?' 'It's me - the person knocking at the door'. 'Hang on, I'll open it, then'. We also hear selected extracts from newsreader Vaughan Savidge's calming 'Little Book of Vaughan' which includes such wonderful advice as 'first thing in the morning, look in the mirror, wink at yourself and say, "Hey, you tousled genius. See you on the toilet..."

Across the fourth and final series, with Britain looking forward to the 2012 Olympics they'll be considering possible new sporting events such as Single Mumming, 4 x 100 Teenage Pregnancies and Turkey Twizzling. Plus they study some interesting animal facts such as 'plankton always drift anticlockwise and form giant funny faces when no-one's looking' and 'young adult pigs have started to emulate human behaviour by eating rubbish, drinking a lot and getting slaughtered'.

©2018 Armando Iannucci (P)2018 BBC Audiobooks Ltd.

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Gotta love his unique take on the world

...and the writers involved naturally. Great cast of characters, a literal who is who of the UK comedy scene.