Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Week Ending

M'chum Ian Greaves writes:

I’m involved with a research project which plans to uncover the complete history of BBC Radio 4’s Week Ending (1970 – 98), a sketch show which used a wide array of up and coming writers, producers and performers. Heavily reliant on the week’s news, it was a satirical show with a fast turnaround and acted as an important platform for newcomers. Vitally, it also accepted material from members of the public under a long-standing ‘open submission’ policy.

We’ll be marking the tenth anniversary of Week Ending’s demise next year. Unfortunately, and typically, the BBC Sound Archive has kept almost nothing of the show before 1988. A couple of other archives retain earlier editions, but either way we’re looking at around 600 missing editions. In addition, over 100 ‘Two Cheers’ compilations for the World Service are apparently awol too.

Have you any editions in your collection? Do any of your friends or family have a connection to the show? Perhaps they contributed a couple of gags in 1979 and home recordings are tucked away in their loft? Maybe you have a specially recorded trail, kept by chance at the end of an old C-60? If so, we would love to hear from you.

This is not necessarily a request for copies. At present we are keen to establish precisely what exists in private collections as domestic ‘off-air’ recordings. We appreciate that any episodes that do survive may not be sufficiently dated, or perhaps have sections missing. Thankfully, all of the key paperwork exists so it should be possible for us to identify anything you might have.

It is also worth bearing in mind that, whilst the Sound Archive is fairly comprehensive beyond 1988, those copies may be missing interesting bits of continuity/presentation, not to mention the many trails commissioned after that date. If you think you can fill in those gaps then we would be delighted to hear from you.

This is an initiative which I am working on with the long-established programme recovery/research group Kaleidoscope. Get in touch at week.ending@hotmail.co.uk if you can help us.

Related Links:

Week Ending
BBC sound archive

Weekending was one of those shows you were always supposed to try and get a sketch on, as a step to becoming a full-time comedy writer - they had fairly open meetings where I think you could pitch ideas, and I'm fairly sure that's how Rob Newman and David Baddiel met, amongst others. I never tried this route myself, as I never really clicked with the show's sense of humour, and I was based in cornwall, so it would have been a bit of a commute. Good that there was a way in though, and I don't know if there are any similarly open-submission-style shows these days, which is a shame.

Anyway, do let Ian know if you have anything - as he says, he's not necessarily looking for copies as yet, but trying to get a sense of what's out there.


JonnyB said...

It was a poor, poor show.

The open meetings thing was great in theory if you happened to live in London, not have a job and have a desperate ambition to write cutting edge stuff about how Ronald Reagan was a bit thick. Venn-Diagram Salvadore and I went to a couple. They were... dispiriting.

But I can see how in retrospect the shows might be interesting to trawl in a 'history of comedy' type sense.

James Henry said...

Mmm, the 'shouting out ideas' way of getting jokes on the air isn't really the best one: ideas that sound funny in a few words tend not to work very well in practice. Similarly, truly funny ideas are very hard to get across in that sort of medium.

Also, the people who can shout loudest and have the least sense of shame tend to get most of the work.

Maybe I should have gone.

Anonymous said...

I feel you need to know that since I'm at my dad's and don't have my bookmarks with me I just googled your blog ("blue cat", I typed) and German Google's first (and hence most popular?) link is this:

"Swinger Club Blue Cat"


No translation necessary.

Anonymous said...

... and of course the thing that was really good about Weekending was that it used the Associates' brilliant "Party Fears Two" as its theme music.

cello said...

Not my favourite Radio 4 comedy by a very long way. The words smug and patronising come to mind. But that doesn't mean it should have an archive preserved for posterity.

Jonny B, in case you come back and read this, I recently read a novel that made me think of you. It was about a comedy writer who helped make a school friend a big chat-show star, but himself chose to live in Suffolk and work in a book-shop. But when the star dies he's asked to write the official biog and he gets the chance to settle the score...

JonnyB said...

ooooh... I have come back and read that!!! The thing is, it is a few days later, so you will probably not now read this.

It is good to hear that I have sold one copy... I mean, I hadn't heard of that one. Who's it by?

cello said...

ooooh... I have come back and read that!!!!!

I didn't say what the book was in case it really was by you and you didn't want to be outed. But it's either not by you or it is, but you'd rather have the plug.

It's called Seeds of Greatness by Jon Canter and is extremely funny. I meant to give my copy to James when he and P came round last weekend because I thought he would enjoy reading about an under-appreciated comedy writer wreaking revenge on a limelight-hogging celeb. But I forgot...

Anonymous said...

"I never really clicked with the show's sense of humour."

You and several million other comedy lovers.

JonnyB said...

Ooooooooooh... I have come back and read that!!!

(carry on, everybody else)

Anonymous said...

I recently emailed a topical joke to Graham Norton:

Harry going to Iraq - just a holiday disaster waiting to happen, isn't it? Don't get me wrong, I admire the guy's balls, I just don't want to admire them being held up by some bloke in a balaclava on Al jazeera.

He didn't use it.