Stewart Lee

Stewart Lee

Date of birth: 05-04-1968
© Steve Ullathorne

Rare comedy archives to be released

Footage from Rowan Atkinson, Michael Palin, Stewart Lee and Richard Herring in their student days

Early comedy performances from the likes of Rowan Atkinson, Michael Palin and Stewart Lee and Richard Herring are to be made available for the first time in a new online ‘museum’.

The footage forms part of the new Oxford ​Comedy Archive, which aims to offer a definitive history of seven decades of shows from students from the university’s revue team and elsewhere

Curators say: ‘While it is widely known that Oxford has a substantial comedy heritage, exact details and significant historical context have never been available in one place before.

‘The archive will expose strange truths about many figures in British comedy - from a fist-fighting Simon Munnery to a rollerskating Ian Hislop to Richard Curtis's unwise bet with a chilli-pepper-wielding ice cream man.

‘The archive will also have a detailed and fully referenced written account telling the story of Oxford as a microcosm of British comedy - and crucially discussing whether the disproportionate cultural influence of Oxford is or was ever warranted.’

The archives – which go live at  on July 18 – will be supplemented by more than 11 hours of exclusive audio interviews with many of the people who were there, including Atkinson and Palin.

Chortle can today exclusively share some of the footage.

Here’s the earliest recorded comedy from Dudley Moore, from the 1958 Edinburgh Fringe show All For Money:

Here’s Michael Palin at the 1964 Fringe, when he worked with Terry Jones. The show directly inspired David Frost to team them up with John Cleese, Eric Idle and Graham Chapman, planting the seeds for Monty Python:

Here’s a 1978 sketch written by Richard Curtis, which was the prototype for the series Blackadder - even down to including the first known 'I have a cunning plan…’ line:

Here’s a clip from the Seven Raymonds from 1988 or 1989 featuring Lee and Herring alongside Emma Kennedy and others:

Other items in the archive will include extracts from the original release of Beyond The Fringe, featuring Moore alongside Peter Cook, Alan Bennet and Jonathan Miller; a  number of 1979 Rowan Atkinson sketches, including never-released-before performances in the Oxford Playhouse show ‘Inferiors, and a 1981 stage performance of Radio Active, including Angus Deayton and featuring an appearance by parody group The Hee Bee Gee Bees.

The Oxford Comedy Archive is curated by Jack McMinn and Absana Rutherford and  will launch with a comedy gig in Oxford’s Jericho Tavern on July 18.

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Published: 1 Jul 2024

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Past Shows

Edinburgh Fringe 2000

Stewart Lee's Badly Mapped World

Edinburgh Fringe 2002

Stewart Lee: Pea Green Boat

Edinburgh Fringe 2004

Stewart Lee

Edinburgh Fringe 2008

Stewart Lee: Scrambled Egg

Edinburgh Fringe 2012

Stewart Lee: Carpet Remnant World

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

Stewart Lee: A Room With a Stew

Edinburgh Fringe 2015

Stewart Lee: A Room With a Stew

Edinburgh Fringe 2016

Stewart Lee: Content Provider

Edinburgh Fringe 2019

Stewart Lee: Wok In Progress

Edinburgh Fringe 2023

Stewart Lee: Basic Lee

Montreal 2006

Britcom 2006


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