AUDIO COMEDY
I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again
Volume 1-4 Box Set

Starring: John Cleese, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden, David Hatch, Jo Kendall and Bill Oddie
BBC Audio
RRP: 50.00
ISBN-13: 978 1 4056 7703 5
ISBN-10: 1 40567 703 1
Available 05 February 2007


This title presents fifteen episodes of the classic radio comedy sketch series featuring John Cleese, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden, David Hatch, Jo Kendall and Bill Oddie. Originally released on cassette as four separate volumes, this box set collects all four volumes in a CD box set. Include in this collection is the first episode and the special 25th anniversary double episode from 1989. The irreverent radio comedy series, which ran between 1964 and 1973, is a mix of quickfire sketches, bad puns, humorous songs and TV and cinema parodies...

Volume One in this four volume collection opens with the show's very first episode - originally broadcast on 03 April 1964. And, the quality of the writing, and the performances, is strong from the start. Highlights include Fritz and his performing hamsters and the bank manager who tries to get his customers to invest as much money as possible.

The next episode is from the third series (episode 9) and was first broadcast on 9 May 1966. Highlights include the Harmony Hearts Marriage Guidance Burea sketch and the history of Rome. Disc two of Volume One contains episodes from the show's sixth series (episodes 7 and 9). Highlights include audio road signs; coach trip tour of European capitals; the Julie Andrews song; Operation Chocolate - memories of a World War II campaign; Louis Armstrong sketch; and the Shakespeare sketch.

Volume Two contains four episodes from the show's eighth series (episodes 2, 3, 6 and 8). Highlights on both discs include the Fairy Puff man sketch; 2-for-1 swap Rad washing powder ad; Opportunity Knocks; and the GPO sketch. Highlights on disc two include the Rolf Harris dirty song book; This is Your Life sketch; the Gibbon song; Cliff-hanger ending sketch; Tom Jones song censorship; and Eurovision Song entry.

Volume Three includes a further two episodes from the show's eighth series (episode 10 and 12) on disc one and two episodes from the ninth series (1 and 2) on disc two. Disc one highlights include the Radio Prune Awards; the Ee bah gum song; and bank holiday special. Notable skits from disc two include Lawrence of Arabia on ice; voice donation sketch; Ask the Family sketch; Prune forum; and the Jack the Ripper sketch.

Volume Four contains two episodes from the ninth series (5 and 8) both of which were originally broadcast in December 1973; and the 25th Anniversary Special which originally aired on Christmas Day 1989. Highlights on disc one include Clean it up Yourself quiz; Casablanca sketch and The Colditz Story. Sadly, the 25th Anniversary Special is a bit of a let down, with only John Cleese's funny walk sketch raising a smile.

There are some racist gags in the ninth series episodes on this volume - which would never be allowed to be broadcast today. While not overly offensive, they do make for slightly uncomfortable listening.

Fans of the Goon Show may tut to themselves as there are a few gags and voices that seem to have been "borrowed". And Monty Python fans will also recognise the origins of some of the Python team's humour. The Goodies fans will also witness the birth of the gang's obsession with gibbons.

On the whole, this is an enjoyable collection. Hopefully the BBC will now seriously consider releasing all episodes in chronological order.

Darren Rea

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£29.99 (Play.com)
   
£55.99 (HMV.co.uk)
   
£36.99 (BBCshop.com)
   
£38.97 (Thehut.com)

All prices correct at time of going to press.