Mark Steel's In Town. Mark Steel. Copyright: BBC.

Mark Steel's In Town

BBC Radio 4 stand-up from Britain's lesser-known towns. 58 episodes (10 series), 2009 - 2020. Stars Mark Steel.

Series 7, Episode 4 is repeated on Radio 4 Extra today at 11pm.

Series 2, Episode 1 - Dartford

Mark performs from Dartford's Mick Jagger Centre in his home county of Kent, where he talks about the peasants' revolt, gypsy tart, Mick Jagger and what one resident calls the Road To Hell.

Further details

This week, Mark is in the Mick Jagger Centre in Dartford, Kent - Mark's home county. Mark begins by commenting that the town is not quite London, but not quite rural Kent either.

Mark then talks about his own upbringing in Swanley, four miles away from Dartford, and how little Swanley has compared to Dartford. He talks about how nice the town looks, or at least it would if it were not for town planners. Mark then complains about the Bluewater Shopping Centre which has resulted in lots of business from his childhood closing down.

Mark claims that one of most important aspects of Dartford is the way out of it and its location to London. This leads to discussion of Wat Tyler and the Peasants' Revolt and whether or not Tyler really came from Dartford. He also talks about Jane Austin's troubles passing through the town and her missing luggage.

He then looks at another side of the town in the form of lady wrestling and a vicar who got the sack as a school headmaster after he went to bed with many bottles of gin and brandy for several days immediately after getting the job.

Mark then talks about an incident in 1908 when the Salvation Army band wanted to play in a part of the market called the Bull Centre, but when told they could not they stood their ground, a fight broke out, and then three people were jailed and the front page headline in the following week's War Cry was "Battle for the Bull Centre".

He then talks about Dartford's connections with gypsies. Mark talks about how the word "chav" was originally the gypsy word for "mate", and the foodstuff that is gypsy tart - which is made out of evaporated milk and sugar. Mark claims it is the sickliest and sweetest thing he has ever eaten.

Mark then talks about the Dartford Crossing, and how it is clear that the people in charge what people to appreciate it, seemingly by making people travel across it as slowly as possible due to the toll payment. One person calls it "the road to Hell".

Then there is the subject of Dartford's most famous exports: Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones. Mark contacted Mick Jagger's publicity office and Mark was able to give some questions to Mick who iat the time of recording was holidaying in Mustique. The questions Mark asked are:

1) Can you think of three things that are better about Dartford than Mustique? (More pubs in Dartford, the chips on the way home are better and Dartford F.C. has a much stronger back four than Mustique Rovers.)

2) Did you ever eat gypsy tart? (His mother was North Kent and District gypsy tart making champion)

Broadcast details

Wednesday 7th April 2010
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
Mark Steel Host / Presenter
Writing team
Mark Steel Writer
Pete Sinclair Writer (Additional Material)
Production team
Julia McKenzie Producer

Supporters and subscribers get more

Additional content and tools are available across the site for Supporters and BCG Pro subscribers. On this page you can:

  • Broadcast details of another repeat

Donate (for fans) BCG Pro

Already a donor or Pro user?