Chewin’ The Fat (BBC Radio Scotland, 1997-1998)
This is a radio comedy show that was rather popular north of the border in the late-90s. There went on to be some successful TV spin-offs from this, which is where I came across this for the first time. Having enjoyed this, I was pleased when some episodes from the original series were repeated on BBC7/BBC Radio 4 Extra, although I can’t remember this being repeated on that station within the past decade or so.
Chewin’ The Fat starred the comedy duo Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill. The first series was an hour long and went out on BBC Radio Scotland in a summer Saturday Afternoon slot when there was no football. The second and third series were shortened to half-an-hour, and Karen Dunbar joined the cast. Some episodes from these later series were the ones that were repeated.
I recognised the opening theme, I’m sure that it wasn’t made for the show because I’d heard it used on one or two other TV shows before this, but I did enjoy the way that Ford and Greg liked to begin by humming along to it. The idea was that they would discuss what was happening in the news, along with anything else that was on their minds (this idea continued into the first series of the TV version, but then it was dropped, meaning that the show’s title for the later series made no sense).
I remember one edition from the summer of ’98 where they discussed Scotland’s disappointing performance at that year’s World Cup, and expressed their frustration that unlike all of the other home nations, they have never been able to progress past the first round of the tournament. They also performed a few sketches. I remember that at least one of two of these were recycled for some of the early episodes of the TV version which were rather amusing.
Unfortunately, I don’t remember if the radio version featured Jack and Victor, who would turn out to be their most popular characters. They featured in the TV version before going off to the long-running spin-off sitcom Still Game. I was pleased to finally hear some of the radio episodes of Chewin’ The Fat for myself, although there don’t seem to be many clips online from them.
Chewin’ The Fat (BBC1, 1999-2002)
Chewin’ The Fat was a comedy show with a Scottish slant that starred the double-act Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill. The show launched on BBC Radio Scotland (later repeated nationally on BBC7/BBC Radio 4 Extra) where Ford and Greg would discuss the latest news and also perform comedy sketches. In 1999 this transferred to TV and ran for four series, although again it wasn’t shown nationally until the later series, and I don’t remember watching it until the final series. Although I don’t have any Scottish roots I enjoyed a lot of the humour that the show had to offer so I decided to buy the DVD.
There were many memorable characters who featured in Chewin’ The Fat, some of my favourites includied the two rather overenthusiastic computer shop salesmen with wonky teeth, the useless actor Ronald Villiers who always failed his auditions, two dodgy decorators, and someone who had a whistling lisp. The most successful characters were the two old fellers Jack and Victor, who went on to have their own long-running spin-off sitcom Still Game. Again episodes were shown only in Scotland before being shown nationally but this is a very popular show that has now run for seven series.
To pick out a few highlights, one sketch that I enjoyed in the first series was a parody of a daytime game show called Piffle. I was thinking for a while of doing a straight review of this parody in my Game Show Memories series as if it was a real show and then see how many people would be caught out by it, but eventually I decided to settle on including it in a piece on game show parodies featured in comedy shows. There were also some parodies of news presenters, children’s TV and shopping channels.
There was another first series sketch that really made me laugh. Ford and Greg were discussing what animal they would like to be, and they said that it would be good to be a squid because you could squirt with ink someone that you didn’t like. I think partly because I do find the idea of gunge amusing, when the show ended with someone annoying being squirted who ended up like this, I thought it was great.
Well I’ve got my end of review cardigan on now. Chewin’ The Fat and Still Game went on to become much-loved comedy institutions in Scotland, and I’m sure that to this day there are still a huge amount of people north of the border who like to go around and use catchphrases such as “milk lemonade chocolate” and “gonnae no dae that!”. There were also lots of Christmas and Hogmanay specials, and there was a stage show too which has been very popular throughout Scotland.