Clarkson – St Albion’s Parish News – tape 2441

The tape opens with the end of an episode of Ray Mears’ World of Survival. There’s a trail for Johnnie Walker’s Radio 2 drivetime, and a trail for the moviedrome premiere of Leon.

Then an episode of Clarkson. A strange not-chat show, which is basically a televised version of a newspaper column. He has guests, but it’s framed as a discussion on a particular topic, rather than a non=specific chat show.

This week, he does a piece about how we’re not very good at sport in Britain, and talks to Ian Botham about it.

Ian Botham

then there’s a strange segment about new-age woo in Somerset, which comes across as a warmed-over segment from Fortean TV, followed by a Fantasy Dictator’s League top ten.

Then he turns his xenophobic eye towards Greece, to declare it the gayest country in the world. To rebut, he invites the boss of Easyjet, Stelios Haji-Ioannou.

Stelios Haji-Ioannou

He complains about decorative plates, and ends up destroying a bunch of them with a big gun.

Clarkson and a big gun

His final guest is Clive James. He’s there to rebut Clarkson’s argument that they shouldn’t teach classic literature at school, and does very well.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 15th November 1998 – 21:30

After this, there’s a very naked trailer for Naked. Then a trailer for the Friday Night Comedy Zone. Then, a trailer for The Cops and Big Train.

Then, there’s the start of Moviedrome, with Mark Cousins introducing Leon, but this introduction is incomplete, as recording switches to ITV, and the end of an episode of Cold Feet. Someone’s having a baby.  I think it’s Fay Ripley, but I’m not familiar enough with the show to be sure.

Then, Sermon from St Albion’s, a show based on the Private Eye column spoofing Tony Blair’s rather messianic tendencies, starring Harry Enfield as the Reverend Blair.

Harry Enfield as Tony Blair

After this, recording switches and there’s the end of another episode of Cold Feet.

Then, another episode of Sermon from St. Albion’s. Tony is sermonising about cronyism and why he’s not guilty of it.

In the next episode, the Reverend is talking about Europe.

Before the next episode, more Cold Feet. Then, more from St Albion’s, with talk of Christmas shopping.

Then, recording switches to BBC Two for the first of A History of Alternative Comedy. Presented by Angus Deayton, it looks at the start of the alternative comedy movement of the early 80s. Along the way, he talks to all the usual suspects, including Ben Elton

Ben Elton

Alexei Sayle

Alexei Sayle 2

French & Saunders

French & Saunders

Jenny Eclair

Jenny Eclair

Arthur Smith

Arthur Smith 2

Alan Davies

Alan davies

Jo Brand: “An Alternative Comedian is someone who is disliked by mediocre, unintelligent people.”

J Brand

Original founder of the Comedy Store, Peter Rosengard, who wrote his own history of the alternative comedy scene, Didn’t You Kill My Mother-In-Law.

Peter Rosengard

The other founder, Don Ward, disagrees with him about which of them had the initial idea. Ward says they both had the idea to run a comedy club, Rosengard claims the initial idea was his, and he approached Ward who already had some venues in London.

Don Ward

Ward: “I owned the premises. I brought Peter in, you might as well say, as a gopher.”

There’s some archive footage of early Alexei Sayle.

Young Alexei Sayle

Arnold Brown was another early act at the Comedy Store.

Arnold Brown

As was Clive Anderson

Clive Anderson

Here’s Jack Dee

Jack Dee 2

Nigel Planer

Nigel Planer 2

The less well known but enormously influential Malcolm Hardee.

Malcolm Hardee

Rik Mayall looks amazing in his interviews.

Rik Mayall

Even Hale & Pace get interviewed

Hale & pace 2

Paul Jackson, who brought a lot of these acts to TV.

Paul Jackson

When the programme touches on the racism in traditional comedy, people are frank about it. Alan Davies says “This is overt racism, there’s no point saying this is funny, this is playing on people’s prejudice, and fear, and misunderstanding and everything that racism is.”

Alexei Sayle: “It is impossible to overstate how sad and lonely and tragic those old guys are… The Mannings and stuff like that, I mean vile human beings.”

The programme concludes with the setting up of Peter Richardson’s Comic Strip, the alternative to the Comedy Store.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 10th January 1999 – 21:00

After this programme, there’s a trailer for the next episode.

There’s also a trailer for Mersey Blues, and for The Talent, a short film competition which features a very young Martin Freeman in amongst the shorts.

Then recording continues with Gimme Gimme Gimme, I didn’t watch this when it was on – possibly because of the way they massacred the theme song. This is the first episode, Who’s That Boy? Tom and Linda wake up to find a strange man doing the dishes, and neither knows who he is or who he’s with.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 10th January 1999 – 21:30

After this, a trailer for the first series of The League of Gentlemen.

Then a trailer for Shooting The Past.

Then, a short programme, Clockwatch, on the maintenance of Big Ben.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 10th January 1999 – 22:00

There’s a trailer for Newsnight and one for Blood on the Carpet. Plus a trailer for Mersey Blues.

Then, recording continues with the first episode of Shooting The Past. Written and directed by Stephen Poliakoff, it’s an interesting programme about history, stories, and redundancy. A photographic library is bought by a big conglomerate, which wants to break up the collection to earn back the money spent. It’s up to Lindsay Duncan, Timothy Spall, Billie Whitelaw and Emelia Fox to persuade corporate man Liam Cunningham of the value of keeping the collection together.

Recording stops before the end of this programme.


  • trail: disclosure
  • VW Polo
  • PC World
  • Vodafone
  • Weetabix
  • Nike Run London
  • trail: Vice – The Sex Trade
  • trail: Grafters
  • Renault Scenic
  • BT
  • Crosse & Blackwell Snack Stop
  • Culture Club Greatest Moments
  • Argos
  • trail: When England Played Argentina
  • trail: Grafters
  • trail: Picking Up The Pieces
  • Hooch
  • McDonalds
  • The Nutcracker
  • Black & Decker Quattro
  • Boots
  • Tropicana
  • trail: Clive James on TV


  1. I do hope that trailer for Mersey Blues featured that Scouser being told he was being arrested for murder and replying “meeer-deeer?”, because my dad and my sister found that so amusing that it remains a catchphrase in our house even to this day.

    I found the History of Alternative Comedy really interesting at the time, although of course it was parodied by Lee and Herring on TMWRNJ a few weeks later with people like Anthony De La Mitri talking about how brilliant they were while sipping from an SDP mug. Would be fascinated to see the whole thing again, though. As for Gimme Gimme Gimme, it was very much an acquired taste but I enjoyed it and it did become a hugely popular series. I get annoyed when people talk about Vicious like it’s any great step forward because it’s sexually explicit and talks about gay life in primetime, when Gimme Gimme Gimme was doing that a decade and a half ago, to much bigger audiences, and on primetime BBC1 in the end. Although the BBC1 series was awful, it totally ran out of steam.

    Everyone’s forgotten about Clarkson now but it ran for three series, but never did much. Would presumably have been much more successful a decade later.

    This is very much my era, 1998/99, because I was at university at the time and when I went I assumed I wouldn’t be able to watch much telly anymore, only to end up watching more of it than I’ve ever done before or since. I have fond memories of things like that first series of The League of Gentlemen and Cold Feet from that period. Living in a big city away from my parents for the first time I found Cold Feet properly aspirational.

    1. I’ve got all the episodes listed here. I don’t think I have every episode, though. If you know which one he was in, I can try to dig it out and put it on YouTube.

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