Just 4 laughs

Radio Four unveils comic line-up

Radio 4 has announced its 2004 comedy line-up, featuring many stars of the stand-up circuit.

Chris Addison, Andy Zaltzman (right) and John Oliver have joined forces for a new political comedy series, The Department.

The trio play sinister civil servants who pointlessly change the way people do things in a fruitless attempt to solve the nation's problems.

The three-part show, which also stars Garth Merenghi creator Matt Holness, Lucy Montgomery and Peter Dixon, launches on January 7.

Politics is also the driving force behind Mark Steel's new four-part series, Dedicated Troublemaker.

The show, starting on March 4, tracks his history of questioning authority and conventional behaviour, from schooldays to left-wing comedian.

He said: "As an angry 13-year-old, during one of my first days in the main building of Swanley Comprehensive, the headmaster, Dr Henry, caught me eating a banana in the corrridor. This was an outrageous breach of the school code.

"It may seem a trivial rule to me, he insisted, but if we only kept to the rules we liked, where would that lead?"

Also in the spring schedules is The Museum Of Everything, a six-part show based on the sketch group Club Seals' 2002 Edinburgh show.

The trio of Danny Robins, Dan Tetsell and Markus Brigstocke - the team behind BBC2's We Are History - looks at the world of museums, galleries and stately homes.

A new series of Inner Voices will focus on stand-up talent, with four comics performing monologues they have scripted themselves.

The late-night show, to be aired in March, features Dylan Moran, Curtis Walker, Perrier nominee Reginald D Hunter (left) and Jerry Springer The Opera writer Stewart Lee.

Satirist Craig Brown is also celebrated in a six-part series This Is Craig Brown, based on his writings in Private Eye and The Daily Telegraph.

The cast includes Edward Fox, Harry Enfield, Rory Bremner and Felicity Montagu, who perform sketches and monologues linked by music.

Producer Simon Nicholls said: "The best way to describe the series is Chris Morris's Blue Jam meets Alan Bennett's Talking Heads - weird and wonderful.

"Items include John Humphrys grilling a storm that's currently brewing in a teacup and The Complete Works Of Shakespeare For Telephone."

The new season also includes the return of sketch series Concrete Cow and The Sunday format, sitcoms Old Harry's Game, Absolute Power and Elephants To Catch Eels, panel game Just A Minute and topical series The Now Show with Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis.

In the factual strand, Pub Landlord Al Murray (right) will present a portrait of writer and satirist Thackeray on February 12.

The comedian will raid his family archives for the show ­ as Thackery is his great- great-great-great-grandfather.

Published: 25 Nov 2003

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