Radio / Revolting People

A BBC Radio 4 Brit Com set just prior to the The American Revolution, written by an American (Jay Tarses) and a Brit (Andy Hamilton), who also star as hapless Everyman Sam Oliphant and Deadpan Snarker Sergeant McGurk.

The main character is Sam, a Baltimore shopkeeper who just wants a quiet life, and is resistant to taking either side in the impending conflict. Unfortunately, his younger daughter Mary is secretly the revolutionary pamphleteer Sparticus. Even more unfortunately, two Redcoats have been billeted with them. And just to complicate things further, the redcoat captain and Mary are instantly attracted to each other.

Other problems in Sam's life include his ex-wife, who is now living with another woman; his elder daughter Cora, who is married to a man she (and Sam, and everyone else) loathes; and his son Joshua, who has a habit of wrestling bears to death by accident.

The show ran for four seasons.

This show contains examples of:

  • And Call Him "George"!: Joshua, frequently. Often with animals much larger than normal for the trope.
  • Artificial Limbs: Sergeant McGurk, who has less that 50% of his original body. Including only one nostril.
  • Brick Joke: In "The God-Given Talent", McGurk's "business relationship" with a local printer.
  • Butt Monkey: Ezekiel.
  • Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: Brimshaw and McGurk.
  • The Casanova: Captain Dashmount, at least by his own account.
  • Catch Phrase: Deconstructed. Sam suggests he could be a comic troubador, with the "comical catchy phrase" "Gadzooks! Here comes the harbourmaster!"
    McGurk: But that's not funny.
    Sam: Not yet. It becomes funny after it's repeated thousands of times. And soon everyone's saying "Gadzooks! Here comes the harbourmaster!"
    McGurk: And that's funny, is it? I must be drunker than I thought.
  • The Comically Serious: Ezekiel.
  • Cute But Psycho: Brimshaw's cousin Emily is a sweet, small, demure young lady — who fantasises about butchering her neighbours in their sleep.
  • Dating Catwoman: By the end of the first season Brimshaw knows that Mary is Sparticus, but has very carefully avoided finding proof of this.
  • Disabled Snarker: McGurk.
  • The Ditz: Joshua
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: Joshua.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Captain Brimshaw describing the situation in George III's court: "At the moment he's surrounded by a corrupt clique of neo-Conservative extremists — but only an insane, drink-damaged buffoon would let a situation like that persist."
  • Door Stopper: Cora's pornographic "novella" turns out to be 311 pages long.
  • Dream Sue: "The God-Given Talent" opens with a dream sequence set in 2004, with a party of visitors being shown round Britain's most famous tourist attraction: McGurk Palace. In pride of place is a 40-foot portrait of its founder, the famous war hero, Prime Minister and sexual athlete, Lord Roy McGurk.
  • Eternal Sexual Freedom: Yes, Rule of Funny, but everyone seems remarkably unfazed by an openly lesbian couple in the 18th century.
  • Evil Versus Evil: The story makes it very clear that, with the exception of Mary, her friends, Brimshaw and possibly McGurk, both the British Army and the Rebels are composed primarily of scoundrels, thugs, mercenaries and thieves.
  • Frying Pan of Doom: McGurk wields one in "A Kiss Is Just a Kiss".
  • General Ripper: General Venables in Season 1.
  • Gentle Giant: Joshua.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: McGurk's reaction to Sam's ex-wife and her partner.
  • Gratuitous French: In one episode, Joshua attempts to sound sophisticated by adding gratuitous French expressions to his speech, despite having no idea what any of them mean (and thus invariably using them inappropriately). When Sam points this out, Joshua responds that everybody knows French is just decorative and it doesn't matter what the words mean — and anyway, he doesn't know what most words in English mean either, and he's never let that stop him.
  • Handicapped Badass: McGurk.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Season One's episodes were variants on "Storm Clouds" ("More Storm Clouds"; "Even More Storm Clouds"; "A Helluva Lot Of Storm Clouds" and so on). Season Two did the same thing with "Trying Times".
  • Insult Backfire:
    Brimshaw: Do you know what you are, sir? A scoundrel!
    Dashmount: Yes, I know. It was last month I was voted "Cad of the Year" by Bounders' Gazette.
  • It Will Never Catch On:
    • Sam confidently predicts that an independent America will abolish private property and adopt a Communist government.
    • A revolutionary asserts that "gun violence will have no place in the new America".
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: McGurk is careful to explain that £200 is a lot of money in 1774, because if somebody 250 years in the future happened to be listening to their conversation, they might not appreciate how much it was worth.
  • Missing Mom: Elizabeth Oliphant. And as far as Sam is concerned, she should have stayed missing.
  • Parody Episode: Season 3 included "A Kiss Is Just A Kiss", in which Sam turned the shop into a bar for all the Prussian mercenaries in town, only to encounter a long-lost girlfriend and "Somewhere Over The Rainbow", in which Mary had a strange dream of following a Yellow Brick Road to the Continental Congress.
  • Prospector: Mad Pete in "Them Thar Hills", who shows up at Sam's shop with a map to where gold (Or GOLD!!!!!! as the map puts it) can be found. It turns out to be where a man called Mr Gold lives.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder:
    McGurk: Now, then I sense a little dip in our spirits, and d'you know what we soldiers do whenever we want to raise our morale?
    Sam: You burn a village.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!:
    • When Elizabeth and Agnes are told the bathhouse doesn't allow women, they respond by buying it.
    • Brimshaw's father, Lord Brimshaw, is a rich and powerful aristocrat who has a good try at buying Sam's loyalty.
  • Series Fauxnale: The Series 3 finale has a number of characters revealing hidden depths (Joshua's low intelligence becomes Obfuscating Stupidity, for example). The first episode of series 4 returns everyone to their normal characterisation, explaining it as All Just a Dream.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: One of Ezekiel's many annoying habits; he often has to be broken out of it with a slap.
  • Shout-Out: Learning that Cora has been writing pornography, Sam wonders why she can't write something about a cute school for wizards, or something with elves and dragons, or a nice book about punctuation.
  • Similar Squad: In "Reunion" the cast meet (one of) McGurk's families. Like Sam, he has daughters called Mary (a firebrand) and Cora (married to a windbag), a son Joshua (a Gentle Giant) and a wife who's come out as gay. It comes as quite a relief to Sam when he discovers the other Cora's husband isn't called Ezekiel.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Every scene with Brimshaw and Mary. Unless it's Kiss-Kiss-Slap.
  • Story Arc: Season 4 has one, involving Brimshaw trying to negotiate peace between the two sides.
  • Take Our Word for It: Since this is a radio programme, we don't get to see McGurk's "deeply disturbing" diagram of how a child is conceived. Except that it involves ropes and pulleys, and something that Joshua thinks is a rhinoceros.
  • This Is Going To Be Huge: Ezekiel's top three philosophers are Aristotle, Plato and Humphrey Butterwick. Asked who Butterwick is, Ezekiel replies "A philosopher who will stand the test of time."
  • Who's Your Daddy?: Sort of - while Ezekiel would never dream of suggesting Cora might have been unfaithful to him, he's somewhat concerned about the fact they've never actually had sex.