Arthur Mathews, one-half of the brilliant Father Ted writing team, alongside Graham Linehan, has written a new comedy for BBC Radio 4 about life in BBC Broadcasting House in the 1930s. The Golden Age will star Robert Bathurst who played Sir Anthony Strallan in that little-known series, Downton Abbey, and BAFTA winner Vicky McClure, from Shane Meadow’s This Is England trilogy.
Bathurst will play the BBC’s director of programs with McClure as his assistant, who have to deal with frisky band-leaders and depressed newsreaders. Scottish comedian Ford Keirnan stars as Lord Reith, the first director general of the BBC. His increasingly bizarre orders such as his demand for a program on grouse-hunting with artillery guns cause further headaches for the BBC executives. Sounds more like a documentary than a comedy series, unfortunately.
The three-part series will be broadcast later this year on BBC Radio 4 in the UK. Self-described as a speech station for curious minds, BBC Radio 4 has, historically, been home to some killer comedy (and drama), in addition to showcasing an amazing array of emerging talent around the UK. Unlike their American counterparts, radio drama and comedy are staples of UK radio listening and a great trial balloon for discovering talent. In many cases, the most promising pilots actually do stand the chance of being developed into regular programs on the BBC’s radio or television networks.