Radio for Adults

SPECIAL TREATMENT & THE BEAT ROUTE BISTRO

In 1994, I  joined an employment training scheme to learn sound engineering (to help my musical career), which then via my friendship and collaboration with Stuart McLean a.k.a the semi-mythical Frenchbloke, led me into hospital radio and eventually broadcasting on Glasgow University’s RSL FM Station, Subcity Radio.

Our shows were Special Treatment (an Easy Listening Thematic Magazine Show) and Beat Route Bistro (A freewheeling musical beatnik poetry show). I first presented the shows (in character as Dr Baker or Dave Peron) in the Wednesday afternoon comedy slot in 1996, debuting alongside such Scottish media luminaries as Fred MacAulay and David Belcher. Our last ‘classic era’ slot was in Winter of 1998 and I’d like to thank all my brilliant and hilarious co-hosts and radio chums: Stuart (I mean Jeff Santana, of course), Robert Park, Ed Stern, Pat Flaherty, Louise Clark, Sheila Smith, Viv Gee, Simon Capes, Alistair Ritchie and Craig Nelson.

We had so much fun and there’s nothing quite so invigorating as a live mic!

THE FRANZ KAFKA BIG BAND

Back in 2000 the writer Colin Edwards was on the lookout for comedy performers. Colin was wanting to get a group together to record his material. And his sister Marina was a Special Treatment fan. So… I joined comedy Auteur Colin and his assembled friends Craig Stobo, Dave Barr and Jenny-Ann Marshall (who were all brilliant performers).  Together we rehearsed and finessed Colin’s material, which mutated from something like an extremely absurdist sitcom like The Goons to something more satirical and cynical by Armando Iannucci. Through Colin’s friend Giles Lamb, we recorded a demo at Savalas, Scotland’s premier post-production audio studios, which in 2003, got the attention of Radio Magnetic.

Our shows on Radio Magnetic got the attention of BBC Radio Scotland’s Gareth Hynes and Jeff Zycinski and in 2005, Jeff became Controller of Radio Scotland. Our luck was in! We got commissioned!

Brilliantly written and produced by Colin Edwards, mixed and mastered by Savalas Studios and Exec produced by Nick Low of Demus Productions, it was the best audio entertainment around. Colin wrote about 90% of the First Series and I contributed a fair amount of additional lines for the script or just improvised in the booth. It was great fun.

For our Second Series the writing was split 50/50 and much fun was had. So much fun that we were banned. The BBC didn’t enjoy the publicity much, (the controversial sketches and the resultant publicity weren’t quite Radio Scotland’s cup of Earl Grey Tea) but Channel 4 loved it.

Series 2 of The Franz Kafka Big Band (after a bit of editing and re-recording) was broadcast in 2006.

The Franz Kafka Big Band was always not quite at home within the rest of BBC Scotland’s output. We thought Radio 4 would love it. We sent them some episodes. They wrote back ~ “under no circumstances submit anything to us ever again“. Amazing eh? Even BBC Scotland TV said naw, after a year of optioning us. Everyone seemed to admire the show, but like a prize elephant, not want it in their homes.

Here’s our very first show! Copyright the BBC. 

The Franz Kafka Big Band Series 1 Episode 1

We would reappear ten years later on New Years Day 2016 for a Colin Edwards singularly envisioned and epic ‘The Trial of The Franz Kafka Big Band‘: it was to be the group’s swan song. I wrote one joke which made the cut, about a folk song. It’s the only accordion joke I’ve ever written.

THE ATROCITY MACHINE

So, Channel 4 liked the naughty excesses of The Franz Kafka Big Band. But because we were optioned for development by BBC TV in Scotland (bound by legal sorcery for a year) we couldn’t migrate en masse into Channel 4’s bosom.

So, Colin and I were joined by stand-up comedians Steven Dick and Allan Miller and Burlesque Performer Alice Holland-Ballard. The rest of the FKBB cast would artfully insert themselves into proceedings now and then (especially The Bushwhackers Sketches). Here’s some photos of The Atrocity Machine at work, rest and play.

Channel 4 had a digital radio station. Did you know that? I know. Who knew? It only lasted a year and it was beset by two disasters: one – financial (showbiz started its recession early due to a drop in advertising revenue) and two – culturally (the appetite for ‘edgy comedy’ disappeared after two scandals – Jonathan Ross & Russell Brand’s phone call to Andrew Sachs and Shilpa Shetty’s treatment in the Big Brother household). So, as the sticky brown jewel in a challengingly jaunty crown, we were doomed. But we didn’t half manage to get some properly crazy radio made.

This radio is probably way beyond the pale by today’s standards.

But it’s comedy. Comedy should cross boundaries. Take risks. Because comedy is at its core, art. And Comedy comes from a religious rite: to say the unsayable in a safe context. I think people forget that. Comedy is theatre. But only if it’s funny and I still think the Atrocity Machine is. And yeah. The clue’s in the name: The Atrocity Machine.

Again Produced by Colin; written by Colin, Allan, Steven & I; mixed at Savalas and Exec’ed by Nick Low at Demus.

Additional music by CNUT and the ridiculously talented composer, Colin Broom.

I did archive all the broadcast shows, but on reflection have not included links to them on my site (as I’m *now* mostly associated with Kids/Family content). 

BUT FOR YOUR ENTERTAINMENT HERE IS A DELIGHTFUL SKETCH ABOUT NAZIS. 

** WARNING – COMEDY SKETCH ABOUT NAZIS CONTAINS NAZIS **

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