Ref NoBSUCA/JP/1/1/7/2
CollectionJohn Pidgeon Collection
TitleLaughing Matters with Eric Idle (as broadcast)
Name of creatorPidgeon, John, 1947-2016
DateJuly 1995
Duration2 hr. 0 min. 25 sec.
Extent1 sound cassette (DAT 120)
1 audio file Broadcast WAVE Format
DescriptionLaughing Matters' with Eric Idle (edited programme as broadcast on British Airways Radio).
[00:06] Eric Idle talks about growing up in the North, first saw comics at Manchester, Morecambe & Wise [00:17] clip of Morecambe & Wise is played.
[06:45] Clip of Morecambe & Wise ends, Eric Idle discusses Northern comics, [07:04] Radio Fun magazine [07:09] Eric idle talks about how Jimmy Jewel and Ben Warriss were more famous at the time because they did movies, [07:17] George Formby, [07:24] Norman Evans ‘Over The Garden Wall’, drag act like Les Dawson, [07:40] Mrs Shufflewick, another drag artist [07:44] clip of Mrs Shufflewick is played.
[12:08] Clip of Mrs Shufflewick ends. Eric Idle discusses the variety show, Jimmy Jewel, Ben Warriss, [12:18] he never saw Max Miller but he saw Gracie Fields, [12:25] tableaux vivants, [12:53] Arthur Haynes and Nicholas Parsons as the straight-man [13:00] The Crazy Gang [13:03] Flanagan & Allen. [13:13] The Goons on radio and TV killed off that sort of humour. [13:41] Clip of Tony Hancock and Sid James routine plays
[19:05] Clip of Tony Hancock ends, Eric Idle discusses Hancock’s radio show and the TV series, [19:38] Hancock’s brother Roger was Eric Idle’s agent [19:55] anecdote about Willie Rushton declaring Hancock’s ashes at customs [20:15] anecdote about Graham Chapman’s boyfriend David Sherlock at a Monty Python festival, [21:01] he says Joe Orton would’ve been proud.
[21:12] Eric Idle sting “You’re listening to Laughing Matters…” [21:22] Yorkshire comics and Lancashire comics, [21:37] Les Dawson was a Yorkshire comic, [21:43] Lancashire comics included Morecambe & Wise, Arthur Askey, Robb Wilton, [22:04] Stan Laurel was a Geordie, [22:17] Sunday Lunch post-war world, Wakey-Wakey, Billy Cotton Band Show [22:29] Al Read [22:36] Clip of Al Read plays
[28:38] Clip of Al Read ends. Eric Idle discusses post-RAF BBC radio comedy, [28:54] Beyond the Fringe in London, 1962. [29:29] Peter Cook’s Harold Macmillan impression. [29:40] Clip of Peter Cook doing Harold Macmillan impression plays.
[35:16] Clip of Peter Cook ends, Eric Idle discusses how Beyond the Fringe attacked sacrosanct topics for comedy, including the War, nuclear precautions, and the Church [36:01] Clip of Alan Bennett’s clergyman routine.
[43:28] Clip of Alan Bennett ends, [44:33] Eric Idle compares Jonathan Miller’s stream-of-consciousness monologues to Robin Williams. [43:47] Clip of Jonathan Miller plays. [44:03] Clip of Jonathan Miller ends, Eric Idle discusses Alan Bennett’s dry Northern viewpoints, [44:16] Dudley Moore playing piano [44:20] Clip of Dudley Moore plays.
[45:47] Clip of Dudley Moore ends. Eric Idle discusses Peter Cook’s E.L. Wisty character, [46:12] compares him to Robin Williams. [46:34] Cook started Private Eye magazine in 1961 or 1962, [46:46] Eric Idle criticises the obituaries about Peter Cook. [48:28] E.I. when back to his boarding school in Wolverhampton and listened to Beyond the Fringe, cites it as a life changer.
[48:42] E.I. talks about people who say the Pythons were inspired by the Goons and how this is misguided. [49:08] Peter Sellers records, Songs for Swinigin’ Sellers, funny voices Alec Guinness and headmaster characters, [49:30] mockumentary about Balham [49:36] Peter Sellers’ Hard Day’s Night, one of the first people to do comedy at the expense of The Beatles [49:44] Clip of Peter Sellers’ Hard Day’s Night plays. [51:30] Clip of Peter Sellers ends, E.I. talks about his Sir Laurence Olivier impersonation. [51:45] Discussion about Spike Milligan and ENSA, [52:01] Jimmy Edwards, Peter Sellers was in the RAF, Spike Milligan was in the army, Eric Sykes, [52:18] Stanley Baxter. [52:38] after the war, these people worked at The Windmill, [52:48] The Satire Boom made those comedians old-fashioned, TW3 [That Was The Week That Was] put them out of business, it was all post-Peter Cook and David Frost, [53:13] The Establishment Club, Frankie Howerd performed a monologue written by Marty Felman and Barry Took which attacked and abused this new generation of satirists [53:33] clip of Frankie Howerd plays.
[59:28] Clip of Frankie Howerd ends, E.I. discusses it [59:48] British Airways Radio sting
[01:00:13] Eric Idle sting “You’re listening to Laughing Matters…” [01:00:24] E.I. discusses The Cambridge Footlights, the Pembroke Smoker concert, [01:00:37] auditioned by Bill Oddie and Tim Brooke-Taylor, [01:00:47] his first material was written by John Cleese, [01:01:11] one of the college dons Harry Porter introduced E.I. to Max Miller on record. [01:01:47] Clip of Max Miller plays
[01:06:40] clip of Max Miller ends. [01:06:45] E.I. mentions that the same don introduced him to [Mike] Nichols and [Elaine] May. [01:07:24] Clip of Nichols and May plays.
[01:12:32] Clip ends. Mike Nichols made his directorial debut with Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf soon after, [01:13:00] E.I. loves to hang out with Mike Nichols and Buck Henry, E.I. has been instrumental in introducing Robin Williams to Peter Cook and introducing Jonathan Miller to Robin Williams, [01:13:24] discussion about Stephen Fry, [01:13:48] anecdote about a trip up the Nile with Stephen Fry, Peter Cook and John Cleese, Stephen Fry would read Bunter on the Nile every afternoon on the deck [01:14:19] Clip of Stephen Fry plays
[01:15:57] Clip ends. Eric Idle discusses Fry & [Hugh] Laurie, and how he was introduced to them via Friday Live show hosted by Ben Elton on ITV, and how they were in the Python tradition.
[01:16:50] Clip of Neil Innes in The Rutles plays [01:19:28] Clip ends, Eric Idle discusses Rutland Weekend Television and The Rutles, [01:20:08] Saturday Night Live played The Rutles in 1976, [01:20:24] E.I. made a mockumentary about The Rutles with BBC2 which George Harrison encouraged him to make, inspired by an unaired Beatles Apple documentary called The Long and Winding Road, Lorne Michaels of SNL said he should do it with NBC to get a bigger budget. John [Lennon] and Yoko [Ono] loved it, Paul [McCartney] didn’t like it.
[01:21:52] British Airways Radio sting [01:22:00] Eric Idle sting, David Frost. [01:22:20] Clip of Robin Williams plays [10 mins]
[01:32:19] Clip of Robin Williams ends, E.I. discusses how Williams’ material provokes a physical reaction, compares his comedy to being tickled. [01:33:13] Mumbilla? [01:33:23] E.I. says Billy Connolly is similar [01:33:39] Clip of Billy Connolly plays
[01:38:42] Clip of Billy Connolly ends, E.I. talks about about taking Paul Simon to see Connolly in New York in 1977, and discusses Connolly’s image at the time and compares it to Max Wall’s image, [01:39:12] went to a 1975 Billy Connolly concert in England with Harvey Goldsmith who promoted the Monty Python tour in Canada in 1973 [01:39:36] it was tough for Connolly at Carnegie Hall because he had to win them over.

[01:40:30] British Airways sting [01:40:37] E.I. didn’t know what to do after leaving Cambridge, Richard Eyre production of “Oh What a Lovely War” in Leicester, E.I. wrote for I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again in between shows and then wrote for The Frost Report [01:40:59] Humphrey Barclay asked E.I. to work on a kids show, E.I. would only do it if Mike [Palin] & Terry [Jones] worked on it as well who he had worked with on The Frost Report, [01:41:12] Barclay brought in the Bonzo Dog [Doo-Dah] Band, Denise Coffey and David Jason, they didn’t want to patronise the kids watching but they had the limitation on not resorting to filth [01:41:45] The Bonzos influenced Monty Python, they would tour the North of England doing cabaret and come down to do a segment for the show [Do Not Adjust Your Set], Vivian Stanshall was an extraordinary perfomer, Neil [Innes] wrote melodic pieces, Stanshall was more verbal [01:42:28] Clip of a song by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band plays.
[01:45:53] Clip ends, E.I. explains that the band went into pop rather than comedy, they went to America and had a hit in England “I’m the Urban Spaceman” which Paul McCartney produced, [John] Belushi similarly went into rock when he became a Blues Brother. [01:46:30] E.I. sat in for Neil Innes once [01:46:54] the show won an award in Germany at a Children’s Festival, a second series was commissioned and they were offered the chance to do a 45-minute adult show, Peter Jones pushed it back and they did Monty Python with the BBC instead [01:47:18] Clip from Monty Python’s Flying Circus audio plays
[01:50:54] Clip ends, E.I. says that Python was introduced to the US through records and FM radio, they thought they were like the Firesign Theatre in 1973 and didn’t know they had a TV show and stage show, [01:51:09] they had toured Canada from coast to coast and went to Los Angeles, they went on the Tonight Show to do 30 minutes of material and only did 22 minutes because of the audience reaction. [01:51:59] Winnipeg, John Cleese would get angry at the audience [01:52:23] clip from Monty Python’s Flying Circus live tour plays
[01:54:25] Clip ends, E.I. discusses that he originally wrote the “Nudge-Nudge” character for Ronnie Barker for Frost on Sunday, but it was rejected. [01:55:26] another clip from Monty Python’s Flying Circus plays
[01:58:45] Clip ends, E.I. discusses the clip and the origins of the “Four Yorkshiremen” being from At Last the 1948 Show written by Marty [Feldman] and John [Cleese], Marty Feldman, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Tim Brooke-Taylor all worked on this show, E.I. was occasionally an extra with Barry Cryer.
[02:00:00] Sting [02:00:15] programme ends
NotesLPCM wave 16 bit 44.1kHz. Digital Audio Tape (DAT) captured using a Mac running MacOS; SPDIF connection via RME PCI card. Digitisation engineer Adrian Finn, Greatbear analogue & digital media ltd. Digital file was topped and tailed.
CategoryAudio recordings
Access conditionsThis recording is available for consultation at the University of Kent's Special Collections & Archives reading room, Templeman Library, University of Kent, Canterbury, CT2 7NU for study/research purposes only. Access to audio-visual recordings is through digital listening copies. The University of Kent acknowledges the intellectual property rights of those named as contributors in this recording and the rights of those not identified.
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