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Summary

The complete ninth series of BBC Radio 4's award-winning sketch show.

John Finnemore returns with his multi-award-winning sketch show, but this series is very different to the previous eight. There are still sketches and songs, and it's still written and performed by him and his usual fantastic ensemble cast - but with no live studio audience, John has taken the opportunity to try something new. 

Each episode in this series of Souvenir Programme consists of scenes from one person's life, played in reverse order. There's no narrative as such - it's still a sketch show - but as we follow the characters back in time, from lockdown Zoom calls to childhood birthdays and funerals, the individual sketches link up to form an overall picture, portraying the sprawling history of an entire multi-generational family. 

And, as if that wasn't enough, there are also some terrific tall tales, a paean of praise and a truly unforgettable earworm.... 

Clever, complex, hilarious and poignant, these Souvenir Programmes with a twist star Lawry Lewin as Russ, Margaret Cabourn-Smith as Deborah, Simon Kane as Jerry, Carrie Quinlan as Vanessa and John Finnemore as Newt. 

Cast and credits

Written and performed by John Finnemore 

Ensemble cast: Margaret Cabourn-Smith, Simon Kane, Lawry Lewin, Carrie Quinlan 

Original music composed by Susannah Pearse and Sally Stares, and arranged by Susannah Pearse and Tim Sutton 

Recorded and edited by Rich Evans at Syncbox Post 

Production coordinator: Beverly Tagg 

Producer: Ed Morrish 

A BBC Studios production 

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

Critic reviews

"One of our best sketch writers." (Observer)

What listeners say about John Finnemore’s Souvenir Programme: Series 9

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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The format is different - but it is WONDERFUL

I'm leaving this review to let you know that this series is very different than the others but PLEASE stick with it, it's incredible. I was unsure on my first listen, because the format took some getting used to. But honestly this might be the best thing John Finnemore has ever written. The scope of it is ambitious, and it gets better and better on repeated listens. You'll be surprised and maybe confused at first, but I promise you'll be glad you stuck with it. It's not your typical Souvenir Programme, but if you are aware of that going in you can appreciate it for the amazing creation that it is.

6 people found this helpful

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Not as good as hoped

I've loved pretty much all the radio comedy John Finnemore has done - Cabin Pressure in particular - and the absolute gem that was Cabin Fever helped me get through the first covid lockdown. Therefore, I'm deeply disappointed in this latest series of the Souvenir Programme. The premise is interesting but I think it would have worked better as its own thing, like Double Acts, rather than being the latest series of the Souvenir Programme, and it definitely loses something without the energy of a live audience (although for obvious reasons, live recording wouldn't have been possible). I was listening wondering where all the clever sketches and hilarious songs had gone, and I barely chuckled throughout. Don't mistake me - as always, the show was well written and clever, and the performances were their usual high quality - and there were some good moments - but this latest series just wasn't what I was expecting, and it simply wasn't for me.

5 people found this helpful

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Gutted, so dissapointed, not funny, actually dull

Prepurchased as I have every other series, expensive compared to others as very short, but previously worth it as I have listened countless times. Often to unwind as I go to sleep.

This series had been ruined, first they replace the theme tune which previously set the energy and was great, to some tepid nothingness.

Sadly they have also moved from comedy sketches to what feels like mildly depressing diary entries.

I love the team and the previous body of work, but this is a miss from me. I will be returning. Please get series 10 out soon, but bring back the old style.

4 people found this helpful

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gutted

great fan of John and the team, love what they do, how its written and performed.
the souvenir programme, double acts, cabin pressure has cheered me everytime........but (and I'm sorry for this) i just just wasn't the same at all .
the theme tune seemed somber, the intro almost apologetic . it just didn't feel like i was listening to john finnemore.

1 person found this helpful

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Brilliant

Really enjoyed this - it was a departure from the usual souvenir programme for obvious reasons but very cleverly done. This needs multiple hhearings and each time you pick up on something else that links back / forward. I personally would thoroughly recommend.

1 person found this helpful

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A Welcome Change of Pace

More akin to Double Acts than previous, but that bothers me not at all! Finnemore, Cabourn-Smith, Kane, Lewin, and Quinlan take us on a unique, heartfelt, and oft-amusing journey back and forth through time, and up and down several family trees, darting from branch to branch with ease.

The pandemic has caused a lot of upheaval and damage to a lot of people, but there have been some treasured consequences, also. This is one that I shall always treasure.

1 person found this helpful

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Depressingly unfunny

Typically I love this show, but this time around John and co should have not bothered and waited until they could try out the material.

Left me very confused and feeling I’d wasted a valuable credit on this waste of time and energy

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A work of new genius from a fabulous cast.

Quite spectacularly different to previous series by necessity, the opportunity to change the format has been taken full advantage of.
Not only is this series comedic, but also beautifully poignant in so many ways.

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Disappointing addition to the previous series

Very disappointed with this. Loved all the previous series - clever and witty humour with skilled performances from the entire cast.

By comparison these episodes performances and quite subdued and the scripts , again clever aren’t especially funny.

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Big Fan - Big Dissapointment

Huge fan of John and most of his work but this was a terrible shame. It’s a huge format change and it doesn’t work. Sounds like a straight play in a stuffy and empty studio.

Really sad. For those wondering, this is not a souvenir programme, it’s a double acts long story that makes you feel uncomfortable with a frantic search for the punch line. There’s not much.

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  • Gerald W Cox
  • 24-08-21

Out of the norm for this show, but needs must

Series 9, recorded without a live audience and with a socially distanced cast, took quite a different turn than the previous eight series; however, it still shares quite a bit of DNA with series 1-8 while borrowing a tonal shift from Double Acts. Instead of entirely unrelated sketches, we're treated to selected snapshots of the lives of several generations of a family, and listeners are rewarded with references to other sketches hidden throughout the entire series. The departure from the normal format due to COVID lockdown is likely the culprit for the low ratings, and while this certainly is a departure, it's no less a quality programme. People who enjoy this series will almost certainly enjoy the afore mentioned John Finnemore's Double Acts (and vice-versa).

1 person found this helpful

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  • David Verco
  • 03-09-21

Huh…..?

Loved every season of this so far. Not sure what happened this time? Maybe I’m just too slow-witted - but just didn’t get the first 3 episodes and didn’t bother listening beyond.

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  • Michael
  • 25-08-21

Not what I was expecting

I love John Finnemore's stuff. Souvenir Programme, Cabin Pressure, Double Acts but I struggled with this one. I just don't get it.