Dead Ringers (BBC Radio 4, 2000-2007, 2014-present)
A while ago, I took a look back at the TV version of comedy sketch show Dead Ringers, which recently reached its 20th anniversary (was it really that long ago?), and was fairly successful. This was a spin-off from the original radio version that I did listen to as well. This was usually in the Friday evening slot, that also featured The News Quiz and The Now Show.
This consisted of celebrity impressions, and also of politicians, meaning that this was a topical show that was always recorded as close to transmission as possible. The cast usually consisted of five or six comedians who provided the variety of voices. One of them who has featured in every series is Jon Culshaw. Now he has turned up on a lot of other radio shows I that listened to doing his impressions.
I’ve already told the story of when I remember him doing his voices as a guest on Chris Moyles’s BBC Radio 1 show. But he also turned up on Steve Penk’s show on Capital FM, where rather memorably he managed to get through to the prime minister on the phone and try to persuade him that he really was the opposition leader, he wasn’t having any of it though.
And he was also a regular guest on James Whale’s Talk Radio show for a time too, I don’t know how he did it all. Also among the regular cast were Phil Cornwell and Jan Ravens. Of course, any figure who was currently in the news was considered to be fair game. I don’t listen to Radio 4 much beyond their comedy programming, so some of their targets were lost on me a little.
But their running jokes about cast members of The Archers and news hosts really did seem to go down well with the studio audience (do you remember the days of studio audiences? What a time that was). And I imagine that Culshaw would do his popular Tom Baker impression whether he had to or not. I also remember that there were a lot of writers, who probably had to work hard.
Indeed, there were so many, that when credits were read at the end in the style of a celebrity, the writers list was so long, that the voice had to be speeded up before the closing music would run out. Despite a seven-year break on the radio, there have now been 17 series of Dead Ringers, along with repeat runs on Radio 4 Extra, and lots of highlights released on CD.