Will Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle get a fifth series? | The comic isn't so sure...

Will Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle get a fifth series?

The comic isn't so sure...

Stewart Lee has suggested the future of his BBC Two show could be at risk from management changes at the Corporation.

The comic said that in the two years that he’s been working on the new series of Comedy Vehicle  ‘everyone who was involved in commissioning it or overseeing it has left and been replaced by other people who don’t necessarily have a stake in it’.

He also said that last month’s departure of a senior executive – thought to be Myfanwy Moore, the BBC’s head of comedy production – put the series in further jeopardy.

‘There was a weird moment about four weeks ago when we were in the final stages of the edit when the head of comedy left, and it looked like she was going to be replaced by a bloke who had written a 1,000-word article in Broadcast about how awful he thought I was. But then he didn’t get [the job].’

Moore has a working relationship with Lee stretching back to 2001’s Attention Scum with Simon Munnery, which she executive produced and Lee directed.

The BBC has not yet decided on a fifth series of Comedy Vehicle, whose fourth run starts at 10pm tonight.

‘You never know from month-to-month,’ he told Steve Wright on his Radio 2 show.  ‘Hopefully in May or June the BBC will have told me if they want a fifth series. 

‘They don’t normally want another one and then something happens where they realise that they do, which is why there’s always a three-year-gap between them.’

‘I understand it. I don’t deliver a lot of ratings for them, but it wins awards, so obviously that negotiation goes on.'

Lee, 47, also spoke of how it took decades to perfect his grumpy on-stage persona. 

‘I don’t think I got it right for 20 years, until I was in my mid-30s,’ he said. ‘I think part of the problem is that if you’re that person and you’re 27 in reasonable shape and still got all your own hair,  people look at you and think, "What’s your problem?" But as you start to decay a bit then you’re entitled to be that person.  

‘A young person behaving like that can seem arrogant. As you get older it looks like desperation, or you’re trying to cover something up, or you’ve got some problem with the world. So I really think it took a long time.’

He added that his stand-up was still evolving as ‘my life acts upon me and changes me. I used to think [of my persona], "Why’s he on stage?" and now the reason character of Stewart Lee in on stage is because of mortgage and children. Comedy is his job, and he does it with bad grace.’

And he said that despite being a difficult and uncompromising act, audiences for his live shows were still building

‘More people seem to come even despite the fact that it doesn’t really meet anyone halfway,’ he said. ‘They still keep coming so you’re able to carry on making it more extreme rather than trying to rein it in.’

Joking that his tour shows were ‘the ideal family night out’, Lee added: ’Old people think it’s a bit like Dave Allen. People of my age think its late 70s/early 80s alternative comedy. And the kids haven’t seen anything like it because I’m aware that I’m an older generation of comics now.

‘Even though there's bad language it’s sparing and when it’s used, it’s very, very precise and there’s a reason for it. So it might offend people’s ideas but there’s never that moment when people are shocked for nothing.’

Published: 3 Mar 2016

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