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Radio: Son of Cliché
This was a radio comedy show on the BBC that ran for several series in 1983-85 and which was written by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor. Produced by comedy veteran John Lloyd, the show was presented by Nick Maloney, Nick Wilton and a young and relatively un-known Christopher Barrie, at that point famous only for being a vocal impressionist talent on Spitting Image. Musical interludes and comic songs were by Peter Brewis.

The show followed what was by now a well-worn path in subverting both the introduction and the end credits. As often as not, the end credits would be re-arranged into a song parody performed by Brewis with vocals by Chris Barrie, one week in the voice of Neil Young singing the credits to a tune not unlike After The Goldrush. The next week, the gravelly voice of Bob Dylan performed the credits to a tune not unlike Knockin' On Heaven's Door. This was not the end of the parody: at the end of the credits, where you might expect normal Radio Four service to resume, the second series featured a grovelingly apologetic Maloney or Wilton returning to the mike and apologising for the absence of the continuity announcer, who was indisposed for one reason or another.

As time passed with no sign of normal continuity, Wilton would get more acerbic and go into a detailed reason as to why the CA was indisposed. It might be due to a bad curry they'd had the night before, for instance, meaning they'd had to, er rush out of the studio in a hurry. Wilton would then be heard leaving the studio, walking down a corridor, pausing to say "sorry about this" to the listeners, and then a one-way conversation would ensue as to whether or not he could pass the mike over the cubicle door and you can, you know, do the link without getting up — and then the recording would end and the real continuity announcer would take over, often in a well-disguised huff because they hadn't been warned.

The show prided itself on "series within the series" in the best BBC radio comedy style.

At any one time there could be up to four of these, which included

  • Asso - Spnish Detective! a parody of Spanish television.
  • Captain Invisible and his sidekick the See-Thru kid! - a parody of Marvel comics
  • Adventures of the League of Stupid Heroes! - a spin off from Captain Invisible
  • Dave Hollis, Space Cadet!

Although Son of Cliché only ran for a relatively few series, it was a seminal moment in British comedy for two reasons. The in-show serial Dave Hollis - Space Cadet! provided enough material for a pilot show of a sit-com set in space that was to make the names of Grant/Naylor and which, starring Chris Barrie, was to run for ten series. Grant/Naylor would regularly plunder old Son of Cliché scripts for material, and on one ocassion a Peter Brewis song, Tongue Tied, for their space comedy.

This show provides examples of:

  • Headphones Equal Isolation: the Walkman Brothers sketch, in which two men are forever by tragic acident locked into Sony Walkmen which, to compound the misery, are locked to BBC Radio One. "Russell Harty" (aka vocal impressionist Chris Barrie) tries to interview them for a late-nights Arts programme, discovering they are making the best of it as an interpretative performance act conveying what they hear on Radio One to a paying audience. But it is true that anyone trying to sing along to what they are listening to on a Walkman is not going to be especially good at it, as their interpretation of Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl" proves...
  • Tongue Tied: "The Tongue Tied Song", naturally.
  • You Say Tomato: Subverted in a sketch where the two singers perfoming "Let's call the whole thing off" go to the producer complaining the song doesn't make sense. One, an American, complains the lines are nonsense - she proves her point by singing "You say tomayto and I say tomayto", using the "tomayto" pronunciation throughout. Her Engish co-singer similarly says "You say poh-tay-to and I say poh-tay-to" is just as silly. He frankly can't see the point of the song either...

So Wrong Its RightRadioStar Wars Radio Dramas

alternative title(s): Son Of Cliche
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