Saturday, 21 August 2010

Remembering the Russell Brand radio show

It's rare that I get misty-eyed for a lost show, but it's with genuine sadness that I once again come to the end of re-listening to the back catalogue of the Russell Brand radio shows that ended so infamously in 2008.

What was lost in the aftermath of finger-pointing and false indignance was that we had sacrificed one of our best comedy shows on the radio, and one that has yet to be replaced.

The show that began on BBC Radio 6 Music in 2006 initially featured Brand alongside long-term writing and production partner Matt Morgan and fellow comedian Trevor Locke. By the following year, the show made a successful transition to Radio 2, and despite losing Locke to other projects, seemed to become ever more popular, hysterical and involving.

Brand's occasionally hyperactive narration of his life in the spotlight were perfectly counter-balanced with Morgan's down-to-earth and mock-scathing critiques of his friend's behaviour. Add in regular guests such as Noel Gallagher, unusual features 'Nanecdotes'-(where readers texted in odd and unintentionally offensive things their grandmother's had said) and the show's own talented poet who summarised each episode, and you had a fantastic and unique product.

Most importantly, the show essentially centered around the friendship of Russell and Matt, their differences, shared history, anecdotes and ability to make each other laugh, which added an element of intimacy beyond a typical scripted comedy show and made it that much more immersive.

And it was also very funny. A fundamental part of the show's appeal was that it felt as if it was constantly teetering on the edge of the comedic cliff; jokes and innuendo were frequently pushed to their absolute limits and it often seemed miraculous that it was reigned-in successfully.

Ultimately this proved to be its downfall. During Morgan's unexplained absence in the autumn of 2008, a run of shows culminated in the fateful Brand and Ross phone call to Andrew Sachs that the tabloid press would later gleefully set upon and bring about the end.

In retrospect it's hard to believe that the phone call to Sachs would have been repeated had Morgan been present as a check on Russell, but as Brand himself would go on to say when looking back on the show, it couldn't have ended any other way other than in a blaze of self-destructive glory.

It is still hard remembering that there won't be weekly updates from the pair, but at least they have left us with an archive of great comedy shows with which to look back on with real enjoyment.

The Russell Brand radio show collection can be found here: