Alexei Sayle's Alternative Take

Alexei Sayle presents a series on the impact of alternative comedy on all forms of the genre.



He charts the rise of what became known as alternative comedy, from artists such as Sayle himself and his blunt class war message through comics with a conscience such as Jim Barclay and Tony Allen who actively used issues like nuclear disarmament and race relations in order to get laughs to campaigners today such as Mark Thomas and Robert Newman.

With contributions from Mark Steel and Jeremy Hardy

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From the earliest days of the Comedy Story, there were alternative comics drawing on the traditions of music hall acts like Pauline Melville's Eydie. The line developed through Nigel Planer's Neil, Harry Enfield's creations of Stavros and Loadsamoney and then Steve Coogan's vast array of dysfunctional characters.

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As the Eighties turned into the Nineties and individualism triumphed, dogmatic, political comedy waned and our tastes were more receptive to perhaps a more decadent, frivolous style of comedy. Alexei spotlights the likes of Eddie Izzard, Harry Hill, Steven Wright and Emo Philips

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We begin with the formative days of alternative comedy and the likes of The Oblivion Boys, The Dangerous Brothers and French and Saunders. We then move into the era of Newman and Baddiel, Lee and Herring and Reeves and Mortimer, and touch on the more recent practitioners like Adam and Joe, Skinner and Baddiel and The Mighty Boosh.

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Victoria Wood led the way in terms of progressing from the working men's club circuit, but other alternative routes were opening up for female comics.

Jo Brand and Tracy Ullman took their chances, and then the likes of Jenny Eclair, Hattie Hayridge, Donna Mcphail, Rhona Cameron, Sue Perkins and Lucy Porter have followed.

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Alexei examines the influence of alternative comedy during the past 30 years and at the difficulties of taking what was an underground movement into the mainstream.

With contributions from Ben Elton, Harry Enfield, Jack Dee, Eddie Izzard, Lee Evans, Daniel Kitson and Josie Long