Saturday Night Fry

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Saturday Night Fry was a six-part comedy series on BBC Radio 4, first broadcast between 30 April and 4 June 1988. Episode One had previously been broadcast as a pilot on 19 December 1987, under the title 'Fry on Saturday'.

Hosted by Stephen Fry — accompanied each week by a selection of guests including Jim Broadbent, Emma Thompson, Phyllida Law, Robert Bathurst, Julia Hills, Alison Steadman and long-time collaborator Hugh Laurie — the show took the form of a round table discussion and sketches which veered tangentially from the sublime to the ridiculous. Parodies of television and radio formats were common ('Fat Man On A Bicycle', and so on). Controversial satirist Chris Morris has praised the show on many occasions, in particular for its observations on the media. Many[who?] say its influence can be felt in On The Hour and other such programmes.

Snippets of classical music were used to mark breaks between items, usually succeeded by Fry's voice saying, "And as the strains of the <insert piece of music here> fade away we turn to..." On one occasion, in line with a running joke throughout the episode, the last of these in the show was said as " And as the strains of Julia being slapped fades away..." This is most likely a reference to the long running BBC show Just A Minute, which begins each show with "And as the Minute Waltz fades away..."

Although slightly different in format the series could be seen as a direct precursor to A Bit of Fry and Laurie, the 1989 television series (piloted in 1987), which employed a very similar style of humour and wordplay (indeed, it invented the language Strom, which gave birth to the farewell phrase "Soupy twist", and also gave rise to the phrase "Mr. Music, will you play?"). Certain editions were constructed in complex knots: one edition saw the cast rearranging the script as a practical joke whilst Fry has gone to the toilet, ending up in him reading the part where they do that and so finding them red-handed, whilst the first edition fell in and out of dream sequences caused by a devilish potion.

The signature tune opening each episode was "Saturday Night Fish Fry" by Louis Jordan. This would always be preceded by a rather convoluted introduction from Fry.

In 2009, the series was released on a triple compact disc set by BBC Audio in June and reaired the following month on BBC Radio 7.[1][2]

There was also a show of the same name running on BBC Radio 4 in 1998, again hosted by Fry. This was a completely different show, however, being a series of 45-minute serious debates interspersed with the occasional sketch or piece of music.

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