The Museum of Curiosity, Radio 4
Try pitching this to the boss
Sunday 24 February 2008
Doesn't a little bit of Brian Blessed go an awfully long way? I thought of this whenever he opened his mouth on Radio 4's new, well, I suppose strictly speaking it's comedy, because it goes out at 6.30, but "Radio 4's new comedy show" doesn't quite seem to fit. How does one describe The Museum of Curiosity? It's got guests; it has two hosts, Bill Bailey and John Lloyd, and occasionally, laughs.
I try to envisage the pitch. Imagine if you or I went up to the Head of What Goes Out at 6.30 on Radio 4 and said: "It's a show where we ask guests to bring along an item of interest for us to put in an imaginary museum. They get to tell us some anecdotes, and we make the odd quip." The Head of What Goes Out at 6.30 on Radio 4 puts the tips of his fingers together and says: "Is that it?" "Well, basically, yes." "And will your guests be famous?" "Well, we thought for the first show we'd have Brian Blessed, who is an enormous pain in the arse but undoubtedly very well known; a comedian not too many people have heard of like, say, Sean Lock, and then we'd have a completely off-beam choice, perhaps Richard Fortey, who is a world expert on trilobites and a member of the Royal Society."
This sounds a bit mad, no? As I said, if you or I pitched this idea we'd hardly have time to eat our free BBC biscuit before being shown the door. But as the hosts are Bill Bailey and John Lloyd (who had the idea for, among many other things, QI), then they get the green light. Good for them. And, apart from Brian Blessed, of whom I have now had a sufficiency that will last me the rest of my days, the show more or less worked – although half the time you would have kept asking yourself the question I posed at the beginning of this paragraph. Still, eccentricity is fine by me, as long as it's genuinely amusing. And hearing about Sean Lock's time as a goatherd – or Richard Fortey's experience of being stung by a giant Chinese hornet, or his story about the womanising museum curator who filed snippings of pubic hair from every woman he slept with – help pass the time pleasantly enough.
Whether this goes towards mollifying Jane Garvey, the Woman's Hour presenter who says that Radio 4 is too middle class, is another matter. I once said in this column that one would be unlikely to see the headline "Radio 4 controller vows to make station more middle class", but, amazingly, this has basically been the controller's reaction.
Mark Damazer has said, in effect, that yes, of course Radio 4 is middle class, that's because most people now are middle class. What's your problem? Mine is Brian Blessed.
tv Jenny Lee may have left, but Miranda Hart and the rest of the midwives deliver the goods
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 3 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 4 Hip hop is both racial and political, and for Iggy Azalea to suggest otherwise is insulting
- 5 Man hospitalised with pneumonia after downing eggnog at office Christmas party
Christmas Day TV guide 2014: What to watch from Strictly Come Dancing to the story of Frozen
Best underrated Christmas movies: From Trading Places to While You Were Sleeping
Felicity Jones on being Stephen Hawking's wife in The Theory of Everything: 'I didn't want her to be a saint'
Game of Thrones season five: First preview clip shows a beardy Tyrion, a moody Cersei and a distressed Arya
The Interview finally gets US release after Sony hack and terror threats – but reviews of North Korea satire are mixed
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader