North By Northamptonshire. Copyright: BBC
North By Northamptonshire

North By Northamptonshire

  • Radio sitcom
  • BBC Radio 4
  • 2010 - 2015
  • 17 episodes (3 series)

Series about the bittersweet adventures of the residents of a small market town in Northamptonshire. Written by Katherine Jakeways. Also features Penelope Wilton, Felicity Montagu, Kevin Eldon, Rufus Wright, John Biggins and more.

Press clippings

We're back in Katherine Jakeways's fictional small market town, Waddenbrook. Sheila Hancock acts as all-seeing narrator of the everyday lives of its inhabitants. Jan is returning from a big trip abroad, and agonising. Esther and Jonathan are still trying for a baby. Jan is longing for Jonathan. At the supermarket there's a special on choc ices and the manager is still sharing his longing for his ex-wife over the Tannoy. Marvellous cast (Mackenzie Crook and Penelope Wilton among them) juggle exactly with such elements of homely surreality.

Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph, 1st December 2011

It's the end of this run of the surreal, very funny comedy North By Northamptonshire. Finally, the talent night has arrived, and the strange skills of the locals are on display. Let's hope a new series is commissioned soon.

Daily Mail, 7th July 2010

It would have been worth listening to the Radio 4 sitcom North by Northamptonshire just for Sheila Hancock and Penelope Wilton, but it turned out to be good in all sorts of other ways too. Setting it in the fictitious market town of Wadenbrook, writer Katherine Jakeways picked off local "characters" with the eagle eye of a rooftop sniper. For example, Rod relieves the tedium of managing the local Co-op by sending suggestive messages over the tannoy, while Frank and Angela celebrate their love by performing the worst ever version of Je t'aime.

Clearly a major comedy writing talent, Jakeways is as adept at coming up with stinging one-liners as she is able to create a choice gallery of English eccentrics. Casting Sheila Hancock as the narrator was inspired: her sardonic and sometimes downright snide interventions making a perfect counterpoint to the barminess of Wadenbrook's social round. I can imagine this one transferring well to TV.

The Stage, 5th July 2010

North by Northamptonshire, the excellent sitcom set in a small Midlands town, continues to hit the spot. Sheila Hancock is the wryly cool narrator who takes us behind closed doors, where hearts are breaking and some poor sap is singing the worst rendition of Je T'Aime ever heard by mortal ears.

Daily Mail, 30th June 2010

New four-part comedy of the reflective kind, set in a small town bubbling with hope, fear and mistrust, a bit like an inland English Under Milk Wood, faintly reminiscent of Peter Tinniswood's lively studies in eccentricity. By Katherine Jakeways, it has the great benefit of Sheila Hancock as narrator, Mackenzie Crook as Rod, the supermarket manager, and the author herself as Esther, the very assertive instructor of both driving and judo. The overall plot is how they're all getting ready for a talent night, produced by Mary (fab Penelope Wilton).

Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph, 16th June 2010

Sheila Hancock is the deadpan, beautifully spoken narrator of North by Northamptonshire, a four-parter set in an impeccably respectable small town, where everyone's going quietly bonkers. Cleverly written, understated comedy.

Daily Mail, 16th June 2010

Funny and touching series about a small town preparing for a talent night.

The Independent, 16th June 2010

Katherine Jakeways herself is excellent as crazed self-defence teacher Esther.

The Observer, 16th June 2010

A star cast decorates Katherine Jakeways' slightly surreal comedy about the inhabitants of a small town... There's a tinge of Under Milk Wood about it all.

The Times, 16th June 2010

Katherine Jakeways' tale of a small town preparing for a talent show is a comedy cracker. Penelope Wilton, Mackenzie Crook and Sheila Hancock lead the cast in what is a tender look at British eccentricity, community and a slideshow featuring inappropriate images of Victorian ladies, and also a very funny half-hour.

Gareth McLean, Radio Times, 15th June 2010

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