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The Now Show & Satire

jeremy | Monday October 03, 2011

Categories: GCSE, OCR GCSE, Hot Entries, Radio, Radio Comedy

BBC Radio 4’s The Now Show fits cosily into the category or genre of satire but with only some of its Swiftian connotations. This is not satire to hurt, or pillory or induce change. It is satire to gently entertain raising some pertinent political and moral questions in the course of entertaining and topically informed audience. It is more like witty after dinner conversation catching up on the more bizarre areas of the week’s news, with some randomly pointed barbs at the establishment which in the 21st century is considered to be politicians and right of centre people in the public domain.

The fact that BBC radio broadcasts topical satire at all is to be welcomed, and it appeals to Radio 4’s core audience of educated, broadsheet reading, AB professionals. 

Satire is a literary form. Its basis is in the use of language to provoke, stimulate, aggravate and be comical. Satire can be angry and hurtful, although The Now Show seeks to amuse and animate the listeners sense of injustice, and being ‘put upon’ by the establishment, rather than stir up political revolution.

An example from The Now Show, BBC Radio 4 – 1st July 2011. The topical news of Greece’s debt problems provides a strong platform for humour sparked by Greece’s classical legacy of ancient history and literature. Here is a sample:

“And talking of old jokes, it has not been a good week for some of them…”

“I say, I say, I say, what’s a Greek urn??

“Not as much as last week, innit.? [laughter]

“…the IMF have now shown their appreciation of the classical past and they’ve insisted that the Greek public sector with its hundreds and thousands of jobs, be reduced to a force of just 300 Spartans. [laughter]

That joke was originally used by Aristophanes….There are of course the Elgin Marbles, which Greece would like back as they’d be something really heavy to throw at police cars.” [laughter] (gubernatrixipsa)

Modern satire in the UK started...


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