Thursday 22 June 2023

Not the A to Z of Radio Comedy: L is for Long Hot Satsuma


The Long Hot Satsuma was a short-lived sketch comedy series that combined the talents of Clue chums Graeme Garden and Barry Cryer. Just eight episodes aired on BBC Radio 2 in the summer of 1989 in the Thursday night 10 pm comedy slot that was most often occupied by The News Huddlines.

Garden and Cryer were of course on the writing team along with fellow cast member Paul B. Davies, Dan Patterson (who produced the pilot episode) and Martin Booth (the comedy writer who later became a parish priest). Also taking part were Alison Steadman and Julia Hills.  

Although Alison Steadman is fixed in the public imagination as Beverly in Abigail’s Party or Pam in Gavin & Stacey but she had a long stretch in radio sketch comedy. Her credits included Eddie Braben’s The Worst Show on the Wireless, The Show with Ten Legs and The Show with No Name, The News Huddlines and Three Plus One, which I wrote about last October.  

Julia Hills had, at this point, been in the Channel 4 sketch show Who Dares Wins and would go on to play Bill Porter’s best friend Rona in 2point4 Children.

Paul B. Davies was a comedy writer and actor much in evidence in the 1980s. He wrote for dozens of episodes of Week Ending and The News Huddlines, as well as Don’t Stop Now It’s Fundation, In One Ear and The Good Human Guide. He appeared in The Fosdyke Saga and co-wrote and starred alongside Jeremy Hardy in Unnatural Acts, At Home with the Hardys and Jeremy Hardy Speaks to the Nation.

The series is previewed by David Gillard for the Radio Times

The Long Hot Satsuma
was broadcast on Radio 2 between 25 May and 13 July 1989. It seems that the BBC only kept a couple of episodes and these would appear to be the ones issued by the BBC Transcription Service (no. CN5425S1) comprising the first pilot episode and (I think) the second episode. The two episodes finally got a repeat on BBC7 in 2006 and again in 2007 and 2008. By 2009 the ‘missing’ episodes came back to the BBC from home recordings and the full series was heard once again that year and in 2011 and 2012. Back in 1989 I recorded just a couple episodes, the first and third.

So here’s how The Long Hot Satsuma sounded in the third episodes from 8 June 1989 complete with opening Radio 2 jingle and some post show continuity with Tim Gudgin.      

In this episode the inspiration for the skits come from the Orson Welles radio production of The War of the Worlds, Radio 4’s In the Psychiatrist’s Chair, Antiques Roadshow and a sketch about déjà-vu that you may have heard before. The producer is Dirk Maggs.    

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