Radio sitcoms

I don't know of any current radio sitcoms produced in the United States. CBC (Canada)produces new 1/2 hour dramas but not, to my knowledge, comedies.

Yet, through reading these forums, I've realized that many television sitcoms have radio counterparts. Not sure whether one precedes the other or whether there are radio-only sitcoms.

Are these as popular as television sitcoms? Are they always the same scripts as television versions?

Are these ever produced for sale after-the-face on CDs or DVDs? If I tune into the BBC radio via computer, where would I find sitcoms on the schedule. (So confusing... so many different "channels")


I live in New Zealand where I also grew up so my knowledge in this area is very limited. However, I know a little.

My favourite British radio comedy 'sitcom' is The Glums. It was broadcast way back (the 50s?) but is very funny according to my sense of humour. (It is one of the funniest things I've either seen or heard, I think.) About a family called Glum and the son's (Ron) girlfriend Eth. I believe they did do a television version of it much later - but was not the success the radio version was. The radio Glums was actually part of radio variety show called Take It From Here.

There were radio versions done of all the Dad's Army episodes. The scripts were varied somewhat to suit the non-visual radio form which meant the loss of the odd joke but the invention of the odd new one, too. A few of the actors are different but not many. There was also a radio spin-off of Dad's Army done called It Sticks Out Half A Mile which is also excellent. It is set after the war. They had to quite radically change the form of it as they did a pilot with Arthur Lowe (Cpt. Mainwaring) but Lowe then died and so the series was rewritten without Mainwaring's character in it. While it would have been fantastic to have had Lowe do the whole series, they still did a great job of revamping it without Mainwaring's character. Some years later they did a TV sitcom version of it called High & Dry which in my view was awful. (Had a great theme tune though.) By that stage it had lost all associations it had with Dad's Army, and, despite having a strong cast, out of the context of Dad's Army none of the characters, the time setting, nor the plot made sense or were funny enough.

There was another radio sitcom called After Henry which was later turned into a TV sitcom. I gather it was quite successful. I have listened to some of the radio episodes and also watched some of the TV version. I think it is better suited to radio myself. It's very dialogue heavy in the TV one with little action. After a while the TV version started to seem very samely episode after episode.

All of your questions are answered on this very website!

There are hundreds of radio sitcoms, far moreso than television, I would wager. Some transfer to television following radio success (Hancock's Half Hour, Second Thoughts) whilst some began on TV and continued on radio (Trevor's World Of Sport), and others are largely or wholly adaptations of the original TV scripts, such as To The Manor Born and Dad's Army.

One of the most recent examples is Miranda, which began as Radio 2's Miranda Hart's Joke Shop.

Interestingly, ITV probably is the biggest TV commissioner of BBC radio originals.

Many are indeed available to purchase on CD, and increasingly as downloads from companies like AudioGo (formerly BBC Audiobooks). See our individual guides, listings, and shop section.

I find Clare In The Community not too bad a radio sitcom.

Miranda Hart's Joke Shop, Count Arthur Strong's Radio Show! and Bleak Expectations are my favourites from recent times.

But I always listen to Steptoe & Son, Dad's Army and Hancock on the radio and they are still great after all these years.

Ed Reardon and Milton Jones are two great radio sitcoms currently running that are worth checking out.

Yikes... a whole new way to spend money! Although I think I can listen to current BBC radio sitcoms via my computer.

I listen to quite a few audiobooks and, when on holiday, have enjoyed vintage
American radio sitcoms on XML radio which is usually available on rental cars.

I'd love to hear the Dad's Army sequel... just working my way through the television series now.

You certainly should be able to. Of contemporary shows, Bleak Expectations and Cabin Pressure are real highlights; on the sketch front, I find Bigipedia a real joy.

If you're interested in the radio/TV crossover, Down The Line/Bellamy's People are worth checking out.

Of the shows mentioned, only Cabin Pressure was available through the BBC Web site's Listen Again feature.

Delighted to hear Stephanie Cole...and Anthony Head who I know from Buffy the Vampire Slayer days. The (very funny) episode was Ottery St. Mary.

Apparently, one episode at a time is available for a week after broadcast. Only one left to go, I think.

Thanks for the pointers.

Some series are available in batches (ie the whole series available until a week after the last episode), but that's far more common for TV than radio. You'll have to hunt down other episodes of the shows; if you look on our respective guides, many of those mentioned above can be purchased on CD or as an instantaneous mp3 download.

Quote: Aaron @ July 29 2011, 1:45 AM BST

Some series are available in batches (ie the whole series available until a week after the last episode), but that's far more common for TV than radio.

From next year I think it is, all radio series will be available in catch-up mode, so Episode 1 remains online until all six have broadcast.

Also, it's worth mentioning the Comedy Of The Week podcast. A chance to download a different current episode each week to keep forever...

More generally, there are some fantastic sitcoms on the radio which, for various reasons, don't transfer to TV. Check out Another Case Of Milton Jones for example (on iPlayer now)... it's been running for ages on radio to great acclaim, but won't ever find itself on TV for two reasons...

a) The locations and actions are so varied that it would cost too much to make - e.g. explosions on the moon one second, jumping to the UN headquarters the next.

b) the humour wouldn't work so well in a visual medium. There's lots of 'reveal' gags - for example we suddenly discover Milton is wearing a black and yellow bee costume in a serious meeting - this wouldn't work on TV as we'd have already seen him in that from the start of the scene.

Quote: Rose2010 @ July 26 2011, 10:58 PM BST

I'd love to hear the Dad's Army sequel... just working my way through the television series now.

Sequel? Do you mean It Sticks Out Half A Mile?

Not missing much.

It's quite dull IMO.

Daft story line about Pike and Hodges of all people getting together to renovate an old pier.

What the hell where they thinking?

Recent radio comedy that I've enjoyed:

Cabin Pressure
Clare In The Community
Count Arthur Strong's Radio Show!

BBC Radio 4 Extra / was Radio 7 is a good source for radio sitcoms.

From the Department of Reviving Old Threads

Caught the tail end of this on R4+. Anyone know anything about it, or are fans? Sounded quite funny, the clip I heard.

BBC Radio 4 Extra - "Give Or Take"

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