Friday, 9 November 2012

Fun at One - I’m Christopher Morris, Christopher Morris I Am

If Radio 1 wanted comedy that was edgy and subversive, they got it with Chris Morris. Though best known for his TV series The Day Today (“slamming the wasps from the pure apple of truth”) and, most controversially, Brass Eye (“one young kiddie on Cake cried all the water out of his body”) Morris enjoyed a brief, but equally controversial, spell on the nation’s favourite during the 1990s.

Chris Morris was a radio obsessive and first got into broadcasting whilst still at university as the student reporter on Radio West. After graduating he joined the trainee scheme at BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, learning the ropes of production and presentation.

It was back to Bristol, on the BBC local station, with a show called No Known Cure that he developed his style of broadcasting that was put into effect at GLR and on national radio: the cutting up of news headlines and vox pops, bizarre phone calls, made-up names, portentous voiceovers and so on.

At the same time as his Radio Bristol programmes, Morris ended up on the revamped Greater London Radio. One of his comic creations on this show was the inept spoof DJ Wayne Carr (pictured above) – sounding not a million miles away from Mike Smash or Dave Doubledecks.  

The first appearance on Radio 1 was tucked away, out of harm’s way, in the middle of the afternoon on Christmas Day 1990, at a time when most of the nation is slumped in front of the telly. The show was not without controversy when Morris suggested that the Pet Shop Boys next collaboration should be with Myra Hindley. It was more than three years before he returned to the station.

Meanwhile, working with Armando Iannucci, he went onto launch Radio 4’s On the Hour, the big break that led to the TV work. Morris continued with occasional shows on GLR but made it back to Radio 1 in 1994 with The Chris Morris Music Show – the emphasis was as much on the music as it was the comedy. This series notoriously got Morris and Radio 1 into trouble, especially the infamous ‘obituaries’ for Michael Heseltine and, prophetically, Jimmy Savile.

Morris was back at Radio 1 between 1997 and 1999 with the post-midnight black comedy series Blue Jam. A couple of appearances in 2000 on Mary Anne Hobbs’s The Breezeblock was his last radio work.    

You can read more about Chris Morris and download many of his radio shows on the @cookdandbombd website. In the meantime, back to that first show on Radio 1. Apparently the BBC don’t have a copy of the two-hour show and I can’t find one online. I’d like to say I’ve uncovered a copy but unfortunately all I have is the first twenty minutes. So here is part of The Chris Morris Christmas Show first heard on 25 December 1990.

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