I really enjoyed this authoritative history of the groundbreaking radio comedy Blue Jam by Tim Worthington. This is an extract of his book Fun at 1, about comedy on BBC Radio 1, which I’ve been meaning to pick up for a while. (I ought to buy it, and add it to my ever-growing shelf of books still to be read.)
I have written about Blue Jam a fair bit, and I’m a mild Chris Morris geek. But there is plenty in this article that I didn’t know about before.
I’m still intrigued about the story of series 1 episode 6, which contained the infamous ‘Bishopslips’ sketch that was faded out before it ended, with episode 1 faded in to replace it. None of the explanations stack up to me.
The urban myth goes that a nervous duty manager requested the fade-out. The then controller of Radio 1, Matthew Bannister, insists that no such thing happened. Meanwhile, many people who listened to the broadcast know they heard the fade-out.
Here is what I don’t understand. If the tape swap was made by an engineer at the last minute, during the broadcast of the offensive material itself, how come they just so happened to have episode 1 cued up at exactly the right point to last the remainder of the show’s slot? I’m no expert, but it doesn’t ring true to me.
Is it possible that episode 6 was in fact not finished in time, so the fade-out was intentionally included in the tape delivered by Chris Morris?
After all, he was (is?) notorious for playing pranks on the media. For instance, the story of him being sacked from BBC Radio Bristol for filling the newsroom with helium was reported widely, with little evidence that it ever actually happened.
If this Blue Jam incident was deliberate, it wouldn’t be the first — or last — time Chris Morris manufactured his own controversy.