Barry Humphries
Barry Humphries: Gloriously Uncut

Barry Humphries: Gloriously Uncut

  • Radio documentary
  • BBC Radio 4
  • 2024
  • 1 episode

Rob Brydon examines the archives to look at the life of Barry Humphries. Also features Bruce Beresford, Nicholas Garland, Barbara Johnson, Ian Davidson, Ben Dawson and more.

A Granny's Guide To The Modern World. Barry Humphries. Copyright: Rumpus Media

Key details

BBC Radio 4
Rob Brydon, Bruce Beresford, Nicholas Garland, Barbara Johnson, Ian Davidson, Ben Dawson, Michael Feinstein, Laurie Holloway and more
Hayley Redmond and David Prest

Barry Humphries was a satirist, comedian, actor, social commentator, author, landscape painter, bibliophile and most well-known for his creation Dame Edna Everage. He died in 2023 on April 22nd, and numerous people paid tribute in the days that followed.

In this Archive On 4 special, Rob Brydon takes a fresh look at the Barry Humphries he admired since childhood to then becoming his friend. Alongside interviews with those who knew and understood him best, Rob delves deep to unpick his more complicated side - the satirist with a compulsion to point out the absurd or pompous, no matter how raw or uncomfortable it was.

According to drama critic John Lahr, Humphries was all contradictions and we learn about the sometimes fine line between himself and the characters he portrayed, including the epitome of vulgarity, Sir Les Patterson. Could Humphries's theatrical creations have been used as a tool to ridicule and tease the rest of the world to conceal his true self? "I still see myself as a Dadaist, even when I try to be respectable. I like to cause deep offence as it pleases me, it means I'm alive," said Humphries.

Like Shakespeare created The Fool, Barry Humphries used his characters to say the unsayable. He admitted to being an outsider, not quite fitting into society, and early on would stage surreal performance art in the street, with members of the public unsure what was going on. Were the audience in on the joke or having fun poked at them? The paradox of the Dandy is that he wants to rebel against society, and at the same time be accepted by it.

Humphries was rebellious and beloved by the people that he disdained. When asked how he might feel without Edna and Les in his life, he said that they were "cathartic and god knows what might happen to me if they didn't exist".


Additional details

Also known as
  • Archive On 4: Barry Humphries: Gloriously Uncut

Broadcast details

First broadcast
Saturday 17th February 2024 at 8pm on BBC Radio 4
Episode length
1 hour

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