An Interview, By Timothy!

by Harry on May 22, 2006

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that BBC7 could have been devised just for me; no news, no music, no sport, no ads, just a lower-middle-brow selection of comedy and drama from the radio archives. I tape the classic comedies for the kids (ISIRTA, The Goons, and, a bit worryingly, Steptoe and Son, are top of the pops in our house, on which more another time) and listen to the dramas myself. The best part of the station finding its feet has been hearing the announcers grow into their material. Initially only Jim Lee seemed to know and love the classic shows (I gather he is considered eccentric for being a Clitheroe Kid enthusiast; I can’t imagine why). My favourite announcer was openly bemused — even a little mocking — when she first started presenting the Paul Temple shows, and it has been a lot of fun hearing her come to love them, a love which is sweetly on display in this interview with Peter Coke (pronounced Cook) who played Temple in the 50’s and 60’s. At 92 Coke is stunningly energetic and on the ball — I caught him misnaming Coronation Scot, but he was otherwise enviously youthful, and obviously delighted to have such a young fan. Example of Coke’s amazing shellwork here (John Q might want to take note); a picture of the great man himself here if you scroll down the page a bit (he was born the same year as Ted Grant!).

BTW, I’ve probably listened to all but one of the extant Paul Temple adventures at least 3 times each, having been introduced to them not by the BBC but by KCRW in the late 1980s. I have only found a couple of the books, neither of which I could struggle through; Durbridge might have been one of our greatest radio writers but it doesn’t work on the page. The quality gap between the books and the radio show is comparable only with the gap between Colin Dexter’s novels and the Morse series.

Update: after some trawling I thought I’d throw in this link to prove that others are nerdier about Paul Temple than I am.



blatherskite 05.22.06 at 1:14 pm

I have to agree about BBC7. It has too much great stuff. From it I’ve heard some incredible shows–mainly comedy such as People Like Us, On the Hour , Delve Special, Flight of the Conchords, Knowing Me, Knowing You … the list goes on and on.

There is almost zero decent radio comedy in the States. Marc Maron has a little, and I suppose some of the morning zoo types and their ilk are “comedic” in the abstract, if unfunny when I hear them.

I “tape” many shows (not just comedy, but mainly that) and convert to MP3 for my portable player. What a great resource it is to get this incredible material for free. Though when I was in London recently I did shell out for several CD sets to give some money back to the BBC.

During my trip to London I even attended a BBC radio show taping (a strange thing to be a tourist for, I know). Several people asked me how I heard BBC stuff and I mentioned BBC7. None of my interlocutors seemed to have heard of it.

Their loss. Though I did thank them for coughing up their license fees so I could enjoy it.


harry b 05.22.06 at 1:23 pm

I’ve long wondered why they don’t have simple donations button on the BBC7 website, visible only from overseas IP addresses. I realise they are not able to ask money from license-holders, but I’d cheerfully donate, expecially if it could be designated for the production of radio drama.


Kate Nepveu 05.22.06 at 1:59 pm

I’ve really been enjoying the classic Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers radio plays, but wasn’t sure whether the Paul Temple plays could be jumped into anywhere (something about the descriptions of the recent ones has suggested they were very late episodes). Perhaps I shall have to start trying them.

BBC 4 also has plays and readings available on the Internet as well.


harry b 05.22.06 at 2:04 pm

Kate, they’re all completely self-contained, in a world that never really changes (very like agatha christie in that way). Of course, you have to listen to all 8 episodes of each story in order. Most of the dramas have been lost or, in some cases, were never even recorded; with one exception only the Peter Coke/Marjorie Westbury stories survive. The exception is Paul Temple Intervenes which sits on my shelf waiting for the summer, when I can listen to it while doing some minor house project.


Kieran Healy 05.22.06 at 2:15 pm

Yeah, I’m afraid I’m in the BBC7 demographic, too. And I’m not even middle-aged, or English. Christ. At least I find the Goons unlistenable.


r. clayton 05.23.06 at 2:46 pm has some Paul Temple mp3s in the archives: the Alex , Van Dyke and Spencer Affairs and the Gilbert Case.


harry b 05.23.06 at 5:11 pm

r.clayton…. Thanks.



matt c 05.24.06 at 9:34 pm

Shameless plug department: if you like BBC7 and the Goons you might like Offramp:

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