A compilation of Russell Brand's radio shows reveals there's life after 'Sachsgate'

I've no doubt that some critics of Russell Brand might suggest that a portion of the monies received for his new four-disc compilation, The Best of What's Legal, charting his former Radio 2 show, should be diverted to pay the BBC's £150,000 fine that arose from "Sachsgate". Indeed, the compilation is introduced by Brand almost as if it were the case for the defence, reminding us how the show spent most of the time teetering on the brink of anarchy and mischief before being engulfed by it.

The seeds of the show's downfall were part of its charm; it was an arena where presenters and guests felt at ease to join in a chorus of schoolyard banter, one upmanship and giddy flights of fancy. A testimony to the elasticity of radio in terms of expression, Brand is at his most exuberant, most playful in his Radio 2 shows. His trademark verbal flourishes are perhaps less in evidence here and what replaces them is a tapestry of voices, so that listening to Brand is like spending time in a room with Steven Berkoff, Terry Jones and the cast of the Carry On movies. Occasionally, the cacophony can be disorientating and nauseating but even the misfiring material has a freshness and zest about it.

Brand's writing partner Matt Morgan is the comic foil who can give as good as he gets and almost keep Brand's superstar ego in check. Morgan swipes at Brand's acting ability suggesting that he transforms into Aldous Snow (Brand's character from Forgetting Sarah Marshall and to be revived in Get Him To The Greek, another Judd Apatow film, out next year) by simply "wetting his hair down". He dubs the infamous celebrity's home "fusspot farm" indicating the level of female attention for his every whim.

Noel Gallagher plays a regular third hand to the circus, a kind of honorary Karl Pilkington, responsible for a further reality check beyond Morgan's custodial duties. "Don't have a normal chat, this is radio" reprimands Brand of Gallagher and Morgan in one show, but all bets were off and anything went, as the programme found to its cost.

Jonathan Ross was another regular guest, of course, and his repartee with Brand was similarly playful until it spilled over to something altogether more harmful. Contextualising this, in one if the brief moments of narration between episode clips, Brand says of Ross's comic sparring that it lacked "finesse", in the same way that Mike Tyson did as a boxer but that both had power in their blows. "It was a relationship that had potential to be explosive" says Brand after the event. Before that fateful day it simmered gently with exchanges on each other's career progressions thus: Ross: "You'd better smarten up otherwise you'll become the next Dermot O'Leary."

Brand: "Oh he's got the soft vowels; we'll give him another 10 years."

As for the one-off guests featured in this three-and-a-half hour compilation, there are few show-stealers. Most significant and enjoyable is James Corden recounting what Alan Bennett had once told him, presumably on the set of The History Boys, about meeting Morrissey. Apparently, after their first meeting, the singer arranged to go to Bennett's house but rather than the expected cerebral discourse the singer pumped Bennett for information on the war poets before taking his leave.

As a case for the defence of The Russell Brand Radio Show the compilation is enough to remind us that this was a good show that died because a giddy wrong was done on it, a wrong that went unchecked.

"One day the media might be ready for a band of buccaneer halfwits" implores Brand concludes a 'sermon' for the show's passing. Since 'Sachsgate' has not seen the tides turn against Brand's career, another adventure on the high seas can't be ruled out.

'The Russell Brand Radio Show – The Best of What's Legal' is released on Monday

Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Arts and Entertainment
U2's Songs of Innocence album sleeve

tvU2’s latest record has been accused of promoting sex between men

Arts and Entertainment
Alison Steadman in Inside No.9
tvReview: Alison Steadman stars in Inside No.9's brilliant series finale Spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk