The South Bank Show – The British Comedy Awards 1993 – tape 1632

Here’s a nice tape for fans of comedy.

First, part one of a South Bank Show special as comedy producer John Lloyd, co-creator of Spitting Image, Not The Nine O’Clock News, QI, producer of Blackadder, co-writer of The Meaning of Liff and, as Douglas Adams would prefer us to forget, co-writer of a couple of episodes of the radio version of the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He wrote the original version of the all-black ship which became the Disaster Area stunt-ship in all subsequent versions of the story, but in the original was a Hagunemnon warship with shape-changing crew who were disguised as the seats. “I’d prefer something with far longer arms” “But which is probably quite incapable of drinking the coffee” has always been one of my favourite lines in the show. Thanks, John.

Along the way there’s contributions from John Cleese, who wrote a sketch about boring accountants to warn others like him that there was another way.

Stephen Fry talks about Bottoms.

Hale and Pace talk about cruelty to animals.

Griff Rhys-Jones talks about the Oxbridge Mafia

As does Alexei Sayle. “I was twisted with hatred and rage towards those people.”

Rik Mayall discussing the ‘Footlights College Oxbridge’ University Challenge scene from The Young Ones: “Oxbridge people have this terrible burden of thinking that they’re illegitimate because they came from Oxbridge. All the Oxbridge people I know that are involved in comedy, that is their jugular. Which is why we went for it in that way.”

Harry Enfield thinks John Cleese is a git, and prefers Dick Emery. I don’t think he’s being entirely serious.

Lenny Henry talks about what it’s like being married to a comedian.

Julian Clary presents a piece about Innuendo.

Vic and Bob talk about funny vegetables.

For some reason, it amuses me that their word processor is an Amstrad word processor.

Ruby Wax talks about script writing.


Jim Davidson thinks Spitting Image is appalling. What a snowflake. Later (in part two) he actually says the words “There are some jokes I won’t do. I won’t do racist jokes.”

Ian Hislop is also disliked by Davidson.

There’s an interesting moment in the discussion about comedians all being depressives, when Stephen Fry says that he was not melancholic. Which is interesting, given that he definitely is now. How strange that it was so hard to self-diagnose. Or he was in denial.

After this programme, there’s part two of this special, concentrating on modern stand-up comedy, and taking a look at the great new talent coming out of the comedy clubs, like Alan Davies.

Peter Rosengard founded the Comedy Store

Co-Founder Don Ward

There’s footage from a Nationwide report on the opening night of the Comedy Store – I spotted future Hat Trick supremo Jimmy Mulville in the audience, necking champagne from a bottle. (on the left)

Alexei Sayle hadn’t given up on the hair.

Arnold Brown recalls his own first night, which didn’t go well.

Jack Dee talks about his first gig, an open spot at the Comedy Store.

Paul Jackson, producer of Saturday Live.

Jo Brand talks about confidence on stage.

Brenda Gilhooley talks about her character Gayle Tuesday, the Page 3 Stunna.

Billy Connolly talks about fame.

Two very good shows.

But the comedy doesn’t stop there, as next, it’s the British Comedy Awards 1993.

Presented as always by Jonathan Ross

Jerry Hall presents Best Male Performance.

Rik Mayall wins.

Top TV Comedy Actress is presented by Hulk Hogan – also in town to promote his cover of Gary Glitter’s I’m The Leader of the Gang.

The winner is Joanna Lumley for Absolutely Fabulous

Presenting Best ITV Sitcom are Debbie Gibson and Craig Maclachlan.

The winner is Watching, which, ironically, I’ve never watched.

Top ITV Entertainment Personality is presented by Britt Ekland. Jonathan Ross thanks her for the Wicker Man, helping him through those difficult teenage years.

Michael Barrymore is the winner.

Serena Scott Thomas presents best Channel 4 Entertainment Presenter.

Inevitably won by Chris Evans. In the event, he calls Gaby Roslin on stage and gives the award to her, which, from anyone else would have seemed like a really humble gesture.

Best BBC Sitcom is presented by Richard Madeley and Judy Finnegan

Won by One Foot in the Grave.

Martin Clunes presents Best Radio Comedy.

Won by Knowing Me Knowing You with Alan Partridge, and accepted by Armando Iannucci, with Cornish Curmudgeon Patrick Marber and Steve Coogan lurking in the background.

Stephen Berkoff presents Best new BBC Comedy

Won by Absolutely Fabulous, accepted by Producer Jon Plowman and (despite the caption) creator Jennifer Saunders

Brush Strokes’ Karl Howman presents Best BBC TV Presenter

Won by Noel Edmonds for Noel’s House Party

Danny Baker presents Best Newcomer

The winner is Steve Coogan. Remember when he was a newcomer.

Marti Caine presents Top Male Comedy Performer

The winner is Dave Allen

Hannah Gordon presents the Best Comedy Drama award

The winner is The Snapper, accepted by Stephen Frears.

Ross himself presents the Best Comedy Film award, accepted by Harold Ramis for Groundhog Day.

Danny La Rue presents the award for Best Stand Up Comedy

Eddie Izzard is the winner.

Norman Lamont MP presents the award for Top Channel 4 Sitcom

It’s won by Drop The Dead Donkey, accepted by Guy Jenkin and Liddy Oldroyd. “The cast voted not to come up on stage.”

Jasper Carrott presents Best Female Comedy Performer

Winners are Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French for French and Saunders

The audience vote for Best TV Comedy Series goes to The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer. Vic and Bob actually get heckled, as a voice calls out “Say Something Funny”.

Alan Plater Introduces the Writer’s Guild award.

The award is presented by Lenny Henry

The winner is Richard Curtis

Ken Dodd wins Top Variety Performer, presented to him on stage in Dick Whittington by Tony Slattery

Now it’s time for Julian Clary to present the award for Top TV Comedy Personality, and we all know what that means. Commenting on the decor, he said “It’s very nice of you to recreate Hampstead Heath for me here. I’ve just been fisting Norman Lamont.”

There are some fantastic audience reactions – good work from the director. Here’s Mark Lamarr

Martin Clunes

and Richard and Judy

Back to the awards, and the winner is Joanna Lumley

Winner of the audience vote for Best Entertainment Programme is presented by Chris Eubank

The winner is Barrymore, accepted by Michael Barrymore himself, who helpfully translates Julian Clary’s remark for the hearing impaired.

Jonathan Ross actually finishes with his own rendition of ‘Have Yourselves a Merry Little Christmas’. It’s not pretty as it appears he can’t hear the orchestra so he’s woefully out of time.

The tape ends after the show.


  • Compaq
  • Croft Original
  • Citizen
  • Barclaycard
  • London Underground
  • Pretty Polly
  • Mercury
  • Worthington Best Bitter
  • Fosters
  • Boots
  • Bendicks
  • Asti Spumante
  • Seiko Kinetic
  • Wrigley’s Doublemint Gum
  • Fosters
  • trail: Prime Suspect 3


    1. He does, but it gets completely buried by the laughter going on so long. I wonder if that was deliberate in some way, Clary must have known the non-sequitur itself would get a reaction.

  1. Rogue Watcher in the house!

    Debbie Gibson. Someone who can actually sing to balance out Hulk Hogan…

  2. South Bank Show part 1 – 28/11/1993.
    South Bank Show part 2 – 05/12/1993.
    British Comedy Awards – 12/12/1993.

  3. Did Danny Baker do the “only industry that requires fresh blood more than comedy is the black pudding industry” line? He co-wrote the awards for years and says he put that gag in every year but the only time it ever got a laugh was when he delivered it.

  4. That comedy SBS would have been on benefit to the recent Young Ones tribute shows on Gold which were somewhat short of Mayall archive chat (which may well have been deliberate).

    The inclusion of political presenters like Lamont or Neil Kinnock really seem like a misguided version of “you must be joking”.

    Not to mention Noel Edmonds being judged a winner, which may have been fair, but I suspect the comedy intelligentsia taking it like a gunge tank to the soul (or something).

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