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Radio / Ed Reardon's Week

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"Monday: And another day dawns in the twelve-year-old celebritocracy that is New Labour Britain."

Ed Reardon's Week is a BBC Radio 4 comedy, written by Chris Douglas and Andrew Nickolds. It follows Edward Reardon, a divorced, washed-up, pence-pinching writer who makes it through the day with a combination of drink and acerbic wit. Once a moderately promising novelist, he is now reduced to writing coffee table, "impulse buy" books about celebrity pets to keep body and soul together. His favorite coping mechanism is making misanthropic observations about life, most of which he relays to his journal or his cat, Elgar.

The title character's name and the broad premise are taken from New Grub Street, George Gissing's 1891 novel about the pains of trying to make a literary living in late 19th-century London. Ed Reardon's vastly more successful friend Jaz Milvane is also transported from the same novel.

Ed Reardon's Week provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Anti-Intellectualism: Ed's bone of contention with the world.
  • Antiquated Linguistics: Ed can't write dialogue that feels "socially relevant" because, according to his agent's assistant Ping, he doesn't write or speak like someone from the 21st century.
  • Artistic License Geography: The towns mentioned are all in the right places, the transport links often don't exist (e.g. a train from Berkhamsted to Aylesbury in real life needs a detour via London.)
  • Attending Your Own Funeral: Rather, Reading Your Own Obituary, which Ed has been trying to steal from his agent's files out of curiosity.
  • Back from the Dead: Reardon at the beginning of series four, after using the fortuitous early publication of his obituary to dodge his creditors at the end of series three.
    Ed: How far will seven pounds sixty-four get me and my cat?
  • Berserk Button: Ed's are ... many.
  • Born in the Wrong Century: Ed again.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Ed tells his writing class that radio "has the best visuals" note ; Stan remains unremittingly obtuse. He might just be trying to wind Ed up, though.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Ed's primary hobby, followed by drinking, and then (more distantly) swimming and jazz.
  • The Dividual: Stan, Olive, and Pearl, the three elderly retirees in Ed's creative writing class, who seem inseparable. Sometimes all three show up in an unexpected place, such as on a cruise liner, and Ed remarks on the unlikelihood.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: The universe and his personality conspire to keep Ed broke and alone.
  • Grammar Nazi: Ed, who has a particular disdain for multiple exclamation marks.
    Ed: You mean come up with another murderer? I can't. It's the inspector who does it. The whole arc of the story is building up to that ... Surely you must have spotted that all the clues pointed toward Inspector Oxford being a foreign agent. Why? Because he was the only one who spoke English correctly, whereas all the other characters used various demotic abominations such as split infinitives, upward? inflections?, incorrect usage, 'beg the question' when they mean 'ask' ...
    Director: It's not going to be the end of the world if we lose all that.
    Ed: The subtext being, it is not simply the murder of his Lordship, but of the English language itself.
  • I Have This Friend or Comic Role Play: Ed angles to get advice from the students in his creative writing class.
  • In Vino Veritas: Jaz gets genial and introspective when drunk. Ed tends to lose even what few qualms he has about insulting people when drunk, so Ping schedules his appointments for before lunchtime.
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: A self-imposed version. Reardon, who converses more with his cat than any human being, because he thinks they're all twelve years old and stupid.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Never exactly "kind", but Ed reserves his minuscule portion of the caring instinct for his cat, allowing the audience glimpses of a fairly decent acceptable human being beneath all the snark.
  • Literary Allusion Title: Many episodes have titles like "Pulp Non-Fiction", "Our Man in Berkhamstad", "Educating Peter", and so on.
  • Love at First Sight: When Ed meets a young woman who thinks that modern culture is reduced to the lowest common denominator and that everything is run by "twelve year olds", "Strangers in the Night" starts playing in his head.
  • Madden Into Misanthropy: Ed resents the world, the youth of those around him (his favorite recurring invective is "twelve-year-old"), the fact that he's broke, his more successful friends, &c.
  • Only Sane Man: While Reardon feels himself this, he's Not So Above It All.
  • Perpetual Poverty: Ed again. And Elgar, by extension.
  • Pet's Homage Name: Because his Intelligence Equals Isolation, the only friend Rearden has is his cat, named after Edward Elgar, an obscure turn-of-the-century musician.
  • Rom Com: Ed is compelled to write one, despite hating them.
  • Separated by a Common Language: Ed's conversations with the American screenwriter in series seven.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness
  • Soap Within a Show: Milvane's recent blockbuster films are a trilogy about a dolphin named Dermot who is in love with his human trainer. Who goes blind at one point ... and then Dermot donates his corneas to her.
  • Stylistic Suck: The occasional glimpses of Milvane's work.
  • Take That!: Ed claims a play was successful "because it pandered to cheap cliches about bookish middle-aged drunks wallowing in self-pity." *he takes a drink*
  • Unknown Rival: Ed Reardon is this to Jaz Milvane.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Reardon and Milvane. Milvane's fame as a film director really took off when he made a film out of Ed Reardon's first (and only) successful novel, without giving him any of the credit. Rancor still smolders in Ed's soul over this. They never pass up a chance to snipe at each other professionally and otherwise, but they've known each other for ages and play weekly gigs together, and the only being Ed is on closer terms with is perhaps Elgar the cat. Familiarity breeds contempt, but it's familiarity nonetheless.