The Real Comedy Controllers

The Real Comedy Controllers, 2017

The Real Comedy Controllers was a special documentary show commissioned for BBC 4 Extra.  It originally ran for 4 parts in 2017, but has been repeated regularly on the station since, usually on Saturday mornings.

The idea behind the show was rather than make a series with guest ‘Comedy Controllers’ choosing their favourite shows, this series gave those who actually made the shows the opportunity to select their favourite programmes.

Each of the four episodes, ran for three hours, consisting of discussions in front of a live audience. In each episode, in amongst the chat, four episodes from programmes selected by the controllers are repeated in full before being discussed.


In front of an audience in the BBC Radio Theatre, Broadcasting House – the home of British Radio comedy –  four well known people from the world of comedy reveal why they do it and what it was (and is) that made them laugh. Over four episodes they survey broadcast comedy from its origins before and during the Second World War to the laughs (and groans) of the internet age, selecting their favourite moments along the way.

Episode 1 – Origins

The Real Comedy Controllers take us back to the stars of Variety and the entertainers of World War II, the men and women (though largely men) who entertained us through the dark days of conflict and the drab times of austerity and rationing.

Alongside the chat are full episodes of ITMA (It’s That Man Again), The Goon Show, The Navy Lark and Hancock’s Half Hour.

Episode 2 – Satire and Sitcoms

In this episode our Real Comedy Controllers take on the satire and sitcoms of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Programmes featured alongside the chat in this episode are: Round The Horne, Steptoe & Son, The Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise Show and the iconic Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy.

Episode 3 – Alternative Comedy… and Beyond

The Comedy Controllers look back to the1980’s to consider how alternative the new wave of comedy was… and to explore how their humour developed as the century drew to a close. Programmes featured were: Lenin Of The Rovers, The Mary Whitehouse Experience, Goodness Gracious Me and On The Hour.

Episode 4 – Comedy in The 21st Century

In the final episode the four debate the question we all often ask, has broadcast comedy run out of ideas? and where we go for laughs today?  Programmes featured: Over The Garden Wall, Down The Line, The Museum Of Curiosity and I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue.


Here are 3 episodes from those comedies that featured in the series








Hosted By

Paul Jackson (former head of  Head of BBC Entertainment and former Director of Comedy and Entertainment for ITV). Also producer of The Two Ronnies, Red Dwarf, Three Of A kind and The Young Ones.

The Contollers

Beryl Vertue.  Former agent to Spike Milligan, Eric Sykes, Johnny Speight, Galton and Simpson and Tony Hancock.  Beryl was also the founder of Hartswood films which was responsible for Men Behaving Badly, Coupling and Sherlock.

John Lloyd.  Current presenter of The Museum Of Curiosity, John is the producer behind The News Quiz, Not The Nine O’Clock News

Jimmy Mulville.  Actor, producer, executive producer and comedian.  Jimmy is an executive producer for Hat Trick Productions whose catalogue of shows include: Drop The Dead Donkey, Have I Got News For You, Game On, Father Ted and Chelmsford 123.


Channel: BBC Radio 4 Extra
Original Transmission Dates: 18th March – 15th April 2017