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    Ben Kirkham

    Downloaded this Grant Naylor radio series recently and been listening to it today on my iphone. Has anyone else heard this brilliant series? I’m loving it!

    Jonathan Capps

    It’s been years since I’ve heard Cliché (although Son of… is a regular relisten for me). Last I remember there was a few missing episodes. Did you find all six?


    Do you know if it’s downloadable for an Android platform and where, by chance?

    Ben Kirkham

    I’ve got 5 episodes and all the episodes of son of cliche, which I haven’t listened to yet.

    I’ll see if I can find out.


    Where did you get them? I want names, I want places, I want dates.

    Ben Kirkham

    *ahem* pirate bay *ahem* Don’t judge me!

    I would always recommend that people buy legitimate material and abide by copyright laws. Do not fuel piracy. But it’s incredibly handy when you’re looking for something that just isn’t available anywhere else, particularly radio comedy. And I’m really not sure where the copyright lies with this. Is it in the public domain, like ‘Wrinkles’?

    I’m interested in writing an article about the series. I haven’t listened to ‘Son of Cliche’ yet, but I want to wait until I’ve dissected this as much as possible. But the short version is:

    Worst stuff = amusing
    Best stuff= hilarious

    There’s traces of stuff that made it into Red Dwarf, such as Holly’s gag about creating the decative scale. I firmly believe it is among the funniest and most sublime material that Rob and Doug ever wrote (Red Dwarf aside), performed by an exemplary cast. It was broadcast in 1981, but hasn’t aged a day in my opinion. Think ‘Absolutely’ on radio, written by Rob and Doug early on in their careers, unfiltered, and you’ll get the idea. A particular sketch referring to a condition called ‘Verbitis’ had me chuckling belly laughs.

    I intend to do as much research as I can into Rob and Doug’s radio years, and I hope that (if G&T allow it) this article could be a companion piece to Cappsy’s wonderful ‘Wrinkles’ features.

    Taiwan Tony

    I like this idea but I thought Cappsy had already written a detailed breakdown of every episode. I remember it being every sketch, but I could be wrong.
    I didn’t like Cliche much. I thought Son Of was much funnier.


    Hijacking, because I just listened to the five episodes of Cliché that are online (I think it’s episode five that’s lost?) Some very funny stuff in there, looking forward to hearing its more revered Son.

    Here are the more substantial Red Dwarf links I was aware of, beyond familiar points of reference and turns of phrase. Fortunately, John Hoare already decided to write extensively about some of them to save me from transcribing and make this post less likely to end up in the spam filter than it is already.

    Cliché Episode 1

    – Dr. Hypnosis:

    Cliché Episode 2

    – The decative:

    Cliché Episode 4

    – Bermuda Triangle discussion and supernatural beliefs generally, plus another little nugget at the end.

    MAN: For me, it’s a spiritual malaise. I can’t believe in God, all theology seems too… arbitrary. Too incredible. So I choose to believe in small, green, bug-eyed monsters from an alternative dimension. I mean, you gotta stay sane, right?

    Red Dwarf, Waiting for God

    RIMMER: God? Certainly not, what a preposterous thought. I believe in aliens, Lister!

    Cliché Episode 6 (listed as Episode 5 online)

    – A bad actor delivers Richard III’s “now” speech, but it turns out more like the League of Gentlemen’s orange doof ad.

    – A school teacher reads out an essay by a pupil who clearly didn’t bother to revise. A much longer version of Rimmer’s quasar dawdling than I expected when I’d already committed to typing it out.

    TEACHER: Question four, it says at the top of the page: ‘What are the effects of the Counter-Reformation on the Church of England?’ The essay begins:

    ‘What are the effects of the Counter-Reformation on the Church of England? Yes, what indeed. Well, first, there are several words, before answering this question, if we are ever to achieve what it is we set out to do (although it is not always possible so to do it), that should be defined for clarity.

    ‘”What are the effects of the Counter-Reformation?” Yes, what indeed. That is the question that has been set: “What are the effects of the Counter-Reformation?”, and that, indeed, is the question I shall try to attempt to answer, i.e. “What are the effects of the Counter-Reformation on the Church of England?”‘

    A marvellous opening. Now, we come to the heart, the meat of his analysis. I quote:

    ‘So now, we must examine the words, which I stated earlier had to be defined (see above) in order for us to reach the goal that we set out so to do, i.e. “What are the effects of the Counter-Reformation on the Church of England?”

    ‘Firstly, let us define the word “what.” “What” is a questioning word, which implies a question. And what is the question implied here? Yes, you’ve guessed it: “What are the effects of the Counter-Reformation on the Church of England?”

    ‘On now to the second word, “are.” A, R, E. “Are” can often have several meanings, for instance, e.g. if you have a sore throat, a doctor can often ask you to say “ahh.” However, moreover, also too indeed, here it means something quite different, i.e. A, R, E, a verb, meaning “to are.”

    ‘The third word, “the,” moreover to also as well as, indeed, quite clearly another kettle of fish.

    ‘Moving on, we reach the words “Counter-Reformation.” And none too soon, eh? The real heart and meat of the question we are answering. To refresh your memory, should the reader need reminding: “What are the effects of the Counter-Reformation on the Church of England?” We are now in a position to answer that question.

    ‘The effects of the Counter-Reformation on the Church of England was absolutely amazing. Really mind-boggling. So much so that, even now today, we are still asking that question, “what were those effects?” And this is something that happened ages ago. I mean, like, the olden days, you know, just before the First World War, even before the Beatles, you know, when Henry VIII and Napoleon were around.

    ‘Anyway, those effects, I just can’t tell you how incredible they were. Wow! But the thing that really bugs me is: how can we, living today, talk about something that happened when we weren’t there? I mean, like, sometimes you see a football match on TV and you think it was a really great game, but then you talk to someone who went to the game and they say it was really boring, so all we can say from where we are, those effects, those effects look really incredible, mind-blowing, but if you’d been there at the time, who knows? You may never even have heard of the Counter-Reformation. Not everyone was invited. Indeed, you could even have slept through the whole thing.’

    Red Dwarf, Balance of Power

    RIMMER: My answer: In answering the question, ‘What does the red spectrum tell us about quasars?’ – write bigger – there are various words that need to be defined. What is a spectrum, what is a red one, why is it red, and why is it so frequently linked with quasars…?

    What the hell is a quasar? Just put a neat cross through it and we’ll do the next one, OK?

    Son of Cliché

    G&T covered this, so we’re all spared:

    Ben Saunders

    That incredibly long-winded “theology seems arbitrary” speech is a perfect example of cutting out the fat and redrafting for expediency, the second attempt is much funnier, snappier and more memorable

    Ben Saunders

    In the final show it is still followed up by a somewhat VIII-esque “explain the joke” situation, though – “something sensible at last”


    Ableist JMC seemingly allowing holograms to enter exams, but still insisting that their essays are hand-written by a third party rather than dictated straight to word processor.

    Or maybe it was just how Rimmer chose to do it, because he’s not used to the afterlife yet.


    There was also a sketch in episode 2 about spray-on celebrity faces and spray-on personalities for people who idolise celebs (satire!) that reminded me of Rimmer manipulating the hologram discs in Balance of Power, but that’s too much of a stretch. Possession isn’t a distinctive Red Dwarf thing.


    Whenever I see something like that I like to make headcanons explaining it. For this one, I’ll say the option is available but Rimmer doesn’t know that and Holly won’t tell him for a laugh.


    Probably more of a case that, while it seems quite predictable in hindsight, digital dictation would not have been top of mind for Rob and Doug in 1988.

    Kind of like how Asimov thought digital voice would be a greater hurdle for robots than reliable locomotion. Alexa, pick up the ball.


    Rimmer does get Holly to transcribe his report on the alien pod in Waiting for God though. So maybe I am just talking out of my arse.

    Ben Kirkham

    Excellent work, Warbodog. I never got around to writing anything about this series because reasons. But I still love it. The BBC *need* to release this, Son of Cliche and Wrinkles. There must be a wealth of BBC radio comedy over the years that remains unreleased.


    Son of Cliché is a bit better, with its recurring sketches and loose episode themes. I don’t see the huge difference between the series that some people are making out though, it’s mainly the same show. Nice to have Chris Barrie, but his impression spot isn’t usually a highlight.

    My favourite thing’s the running gag where they “introduce” the continuity announcer at the end, to put them in an awkward spot before it cuts off, especially when you know the vindictive background:

    Rob Grant: ‘In the first series, we got seriously insulted by one of the Radio Four continuity announcers. I think he said something like: “Well, if you like that sort of thing…” with such disdain and disgust, it sent my blood boiling. Who the hell did he think he was? So we had a running gag at the end of every show, the sole purpose of which was to embarrass and humiliate the continuity announcer. We’d make an announcement that they had a bad stomach, and then pretend to pass the microphone to them under the toilet door, complete with vile gurgling sounds. That kind of thing. We kept it up relentlessly for two series. It made me feel good: I was effectively being paid for insulting continuity announcers. I enjoyed that. If ever anyone in real life annoyed me, I’d try and get a sketch out of it. It was very cathartic.’


    Shame the versions online didn’t tape the continuity announcer’s response, or lack of response which still would have been funny. Also funny that they’re continuing to insult future generations of continuity announcers who haven’t done anything wrong when the series is repeated on Radio 4 Extra and things to this day (if that has announcers).

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