Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Hut 33 on

Well, here's a strange thing. I've just been told by @ianwolf on Twitter that Hut 33 Series 2 is available to buy as a download on here. I had no idea of this, but there it is. No idea why Series 1 hasn't been released. But thought I'd pass it on.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Series 1 Repeat on BBC7

Series 1 is being re-re-repeated (!) on BBC7 on Sunday nights. Listen again here.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010


Some thoughts on M*A*S*H - and why it's important and inspiring - over at Sitcom Geek blog here.

Monday, 31 May 2010

A Very Bad Week in British Comedy

I've posted thoughts on why this is a bad week for British Sitcom... here.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Starring Greg Proops

I was thinking to myself the other day about Think the Unthinkable and which episode I'm most proud of (and avoiding thinking about which episode I'm ashamed of). Two or three sprang to mind - and one of them is on BBC7 and iPlayer at the moment here. It's an episode about an energy company that makes lots and lots of money and looks to good to be true. Because it is. I like to think I was one of the first to satirise notorious failed energy firms (although I hear the West End play on the subject is excellent (and stars the truly splendid Tom Goodman-Hill)).

It was a real kick recording this episode because we had secured the services of a comedian I had admired for many years - Greg Proops. I had grown up watching him excel on Who's Line is it Anyway? and we put a call in to secure him for the episode and I was thrilled when he agreed to do the show. Have a listen while it's still online...

Friday, 26 March 2010

Think the Unthinkable Series 1

... is on BBC7 again! So if you missed it, or just want to remember what seemed funny about eight years ago, have a listen here.

Miranda Hart's Jokeshop on BBC7

If you missed Miranda Hart's Jokeship on Radio 2, it's being repeated on BBC7 - includes bits you might recognise from the telly, plus other shiny jokes. It's here.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Another Case of Milton Jones - Series 4

It's now out there in the ether. Somewhere. Specifically here. Series 4 of Another Case of Milton. Few things give me more professional pride than this show. It's very much the brainchild of Milton Jones who sets the tone and produces jokes that are ludicrously funny. I'm madly running behind him, weaving together loose ends, picking up debris and shrapnel and generally trying to keep up. And then it's deliciously edited by the producer David Tyler to produce 28 minutes or so of joy. Have a listen if you can.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Cabin Pressure

If you like Hut 33, there's a good chance that you like, and possibly prefer, Cabin Pressure too. I've been trying to work out what I like about the show - and posted some thoughts on Sitcom Geek here.

Monday, 1 February 2010

How Many Episodes is Enough?

So far, I've written 18 episodes of Hut 33. And I would happily write 18 more. I'm not one of those writers who decides to stop when the show has just about found its feet and won some affection amongst its audience. Anyway, I write some thoughts about the phenomenon of getting out while the going is good on Sitcom Geek here.

Friday, 22 January 2010

The Persuasionists

I've written a review of The Persuasionists, following on from my last post. But I have decided to keep this blog about Hut 33, and closely related matters. And I've started writing about sitcom in general, and the boring mechanics of it for anoraks like me, at a new blog called Sitcom Geek here.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Watching Comedy as Comedy Writer

Whenever a new sitcom arrives on TV, I always try and watch it. I do this for a variety of reasons. The most obvious is that I'm sitcom writer myself and a bad person, and I therefore want it to fail. I then repent of this, and try to watch it without prejudice, remembering that I have more reasons to want this show to succeed. Why?

Firstly, a bad TV sitcom makes us writers all look bad. Secondly, the TV controller hates it when his/her shows attract criticism, and there is a special place in the hearts of the British people for sitcoms and slagging them off. People get really specific and offensive - especially online. They say things like "Why do the BBC makes this thing? Which executive approved this - and can their salary be taken away and given to orpans, or back to us viewers?" etc etc "This is the worst half hour I've ever spent of my life" and other such hyperboles. It's understandable. Comedy, when it doesn't quite work, is awkward and toe-curling. Even good shows are hard to watch when they go slightly awry, even for one scene) Naturally, any TV channel controller wants to avoid this, and this is, I'm sure, one reason why there are fewer and fewer sitcoms on TV. They are expensive to make (that's the other reason), so why risk wasting money and copping flack, they would think to themselves. An episode of studio sitcom costs at least £250k. You could have four antiques programmes for that money. They'd be forgettable programmes that won't make the world a better place, or even fulfill the BBC's charter, but they won't make people as angry if they don't like them. So, as a writer, I want BBC2 to have some hit comedies so that they'll want to make more of them.

Comedy is a small world, and it's quite likely that I will know the writer responsible, or will meet them at some stage. Or at least a cast member. In the case of the lastest sitcom, The Persuasionists, I happen to regularly turn up to the same cafe as one of the cast members. It really is that tenuous. But no-one likes having to lie about a show. And some of us have ethical problems with lying, so it's just easier if the show is actually good so you can say 'Hey, great show! I loved the bit with the [insert funny moment here].' And mean it. That's why I tend not to ask people I know about stuff that I do. They might not like it and would rather not say so, or lie, so it's best not to ask. Plus, there's the fact that I really don't mind if they don't like it. I wrote six episodes of My Hero - that were greatly appreciated by 5 or 6 million people on BBC1, mainly families with kids. It's that sort of show. My contemporaries are the time were graduates without kids who were into Six Feet Under - My Hero wasn't for them. If they didn't like it, I had no problem with that!

Finally, I want a sitcom that I can enjoy for myself! I await new episodes of 30 Rock with eager anticipation. I had the same experience with Arrested Development. Both are American shows, sadly. But I did get a frisson of excitement at the next episode of IT Crowd, Black Books and more recently, Gavin and Stacey (the latter of which is not, let's be fair, an out-and-out comedy, but a splendid show nonetheless).

So you may be wondering what I made of The Persuasionists, BBC2's latest comic offering that I initally wanted to fail (since I am a bad person) and then realised I wanted to succeed, not least because it contains the delightful Adam Buxton, whom I do not know, but enjoy on 6Music - and he comes across as a thoroughly pleasant human being.

But here we run into a problem - because writing up a review on blog (which remains in the ether for ever) is a bit of a risk. Dare I say anything negative, given the close-knit comedy world that I work in. And if I do only say positives, will you believe me or will you think I'm just being nice? Well, I shall give it a little more thought and post a review very shortly...

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

A Comedy Poll

It's a popularity contest - and that's not always a bad thing, but usually... Anyway, the chaps at are canvassing votes for people's favourite comedies on TV and Radio. Bless them for including Radio, which is largely overlooked by almost all other awards, despite generating more comedy than TV by a country mile.

To vote, go here. In case you're curious, apart from projects of my own (if I don't vote for them, who will?) I voted for Bleak Expectations and The Thick of It among other things. (I finally got round to watching four episodes of the last series of The Thick of It on New Years Eve - which was great, albeit a considerably large dose of bad language in a short space...)