Jon Holmes Show (weekday afternoons)
The Skewer (BBC R4)
Listen Against (BBC R4)
PRAISE FOR LISTEN AGAINST (BBC RADIO 4)
If the real world becomes too much, try Listen Against (Radio 4, Tuesdays at 6.30pm). It is so funny it will rearrange everything. Last week the pipe carrying BBC Three exploded, polluting all programmes around it; the BBC expanded into pizza delivery ("We can't leave it to the private sector..."); Gaby Roslin and Ed Stourton channelled to the centre of the Earth for Children in Need; the Dimblebys become News Brothers, a musical. Alice Arnold, Jon Holmes and company on Listen Against will brighten even the darkest evening.
Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph
Were the Monty Python team starting out today, they might conceivably come up with something like the utterly fabulous Listen Against, supposedly a news round-up with Alice Arnold in the studio and Jon Holmes reporting. It's a glorious mixture of cannibalised cut-ups from the BBC's current affairs output and segments featuring Beeb figures playing themselves (Ed Stourton and Gaby Roslin, for example, on a Children in Need expedition to the centre of the Earth).
Much of it is directed at the BBC itself, and the triumphant stand-out last week was a rolling report from the scene of what Arnold called a "broadcastastrophe". "The pipe that pumps bad TV into the nation's digiboxes" had burst, and "gallons of terrible programmes" were spilling out, contaminating all the decent stuff with BBC3 output. "Awful programmes are threatening wildlife," said Holmes. "I saw a man trying to clean James Corden off a guillemot."
The emergency services were throwing episodes of Dad's Army down the shaft to try to stem the flow. And how much was escaping, Arnold inquired? "It's estimated at up to 3,000 scraped barrels a day," said Holmes.
Chris Maume, The Independent
What clever little sausages that Jon Holmes and his cutting crew are. Back for a third series of the show that cuts and re-edits radio and TV to great satirical effect, they turn their scatter guns on a range of targets, from David Mitchell and his takeover of all broadcasting to 24-hour rolling news coverage of a Jeremy Paxman on the rampage, randomly firing questions at passers-by. Joining in the joke and enjoying having the mickey taken out of them are John Humphrys, Jenni Murray and Richard Bacon. It's like Feedback, but with more blood and guts!
Frances Lass, Radio Times
Very funny (and rather rude) pretend radio show, real extracts from actual broadcasts mashed up into fantasy fictional contexts (Jeremy Paxman running amok and being chased by the police, for example). Jenni Murray, Richard Bacon and John Humphrys appear as themselves but others (David Mitchell, Evan Davies, Steve Wright) are edited into parodies of themselves. Excellent cast, tight production, sharp scripts and a glorious capacity to make telling fun of radio's daily excesses. The Robert Peston competition is a wow. Alice Arnold presents, perfectly.
Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph
R4's Listen Against scripted flights of lunacy recalled the best of The Day Today. For the first time, a Satanist occupied the Today programme's Thought for the Day slot, recalling the time he sacrificed a goat and drank its blood ('That should give us all something to think about,' he concluded), while Compton Pauncefoot, controller of BBC Animal Entertainment, was questioned about offensive messages left on John Cleese's messaging service by the stars of Radio 2's The Monkey and the Parrot Show. He told presenter Alice Arnold: "As a result of this outrage, Radio 2 is to be bulldozed to the ground and in its place we're creating a spring meadow of quiet contemplation."
Nick Smurthwaite, The Stage
In these hi-tech modern times you now, of course, have the added opportunity of catching up with radio programmes you have missed or want to listen to again via the stations' websites. With so much on offer, Listen Against's Alice Arnold and Jon Holmes decided the copious amounts of material could do with a bit of drastic editing - in other words, they hoped to present all the right snippets but not necessarily in the right order.
Thanks to some clever editing, there were some funny news items from the previous week's radio, not least the contestant taking part in Ken Bruce's Radio 2 Popmaster quiz, who had an interminable list of people he wanted to say hello to and the light entertainment meltdown when a laptop containing the subjects for the next 10,000 episodes of Just A Minute was lost.
Lisa Martland, The Stage
Alice Arnold and Jon Holmes bring the glorious fantasy radio show where amazing things happen, like all The Today Programme presenters talking together and the hunt for Melvyn Bragg, who's gone missing, lost in an In Our Time machine he's built with tips gleaned on his many adventures in knowledge. Don't listen to this sitting on a rickety chair. It may collapse under the impact of your laughter. The "interview" between John Humphrys and PM Cameron on the state of their relationship and a discussion of Rastamouse in a new role are both sublime.
Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph
A second run for the deadpan comedy that's like Feedback from a warped alternative universe. The show manages to mangle radio formats into unusual shapes before presenting them in an almost credible fashion, and as co-presenter Jon Holmes tells Radio Times, series two boasts: 'Today introducing controversial waterboarding torture techniques to grill politicians; a gritty HBO remake of Gardeners' Question Time in the style of The Wire; a fan convention for The Archers in Las Vegas; and Oliver Stone's new radio drama Peston." And tonight, after David Miliband's successful 'appearances' in series one, an equally peculiar Ed Balls sounds off, while John Humphrys is replaced by a real pit bull. Newsreader and voice of gravitas Alice Arnold once again has the task of announcing all this with a straight face.
David Brown, Radio Times
The best new comedy show in years’ Independent
“A drive-by shooting of a show” The Telegraph
“Inspired...the wit here is like that of Oscar Wilde” - Evening Standard
Beautifully Crafted and Sharp’ – Daily Telegraph
‘Quite simply the best comedy show on the radio’ - Heat
“He loves playing with words and formats. Holmes’s mind works more quickly and more weirdly than almost anyone else on radio; only Danny Baker comes close”
- Miranda Sawyer, Observer
JON HOLMES is a double Bafta award-winning and nine-time Radio Academy award winning writer, comedian and broadcaster.
He’s hosted his own shows on BBC Radios 1, 2, 4, 5Live and BBC 6 Music, written for the likes of Harry Hill, Graham Norton and Stephen Fry, thrown week-mocking jokes at Mock The Week, helped to develop the CBBC hit Horrible Histories from its journey from book to screen, (along with co-writing the first 5 series) and worked alongside Armando Iannucci on both radio and TV. His recent Radio 2 show Jeremy Vine: Agony Uncle' was a huge hit with critics and listeners. He's also the host of the podcast The The One Show Show which is very silly as it analyses TVs The One Show as though it was The Walking Dead or Westworld or some such. His brand new show for 2020 The Skewer, "a dizzying, dazzling, disorientating satirical river of sound" is already an award-winning hit for Radio 4. He recently won Gold in the 'Best Comedy Producer' category at the 2020 Audio Production Awards, along with Bronze for 'Best Sound Design' for The Skewer.
Also on TV, Jon hosted Channel 4’s 11 O’Clock Show (after the other bloke left), occasionally crops up on things like Newsnight or The Wright Stuff and recently made acting debuts in Crackanory and Channel 4’s controversial drama 100 Days of Ukip.
His BBC Radio 4 series Listen Against (4 series to date) is 'sublime, glorious', 'a worthy successor to On The Hour' or 'so funny that it rearranges everything you thought you knew' depending on whch newspaper you read, he co-created the multi-award winning Dead Ringers and you may know him as the short one from off of BBC Radio 4’s The Now Show. He also regularly hosts the BBC Radio 4 Extra Comedy Club.
Alongside all this, he hosted the Xfm Breakfast Show in London for 3 years (where he was twice nominated for Presenter of the Year’), and hosted the weekday afternoon show on talkRADIO, which brought a daily satirical take on current affairs mixed with hard news and political interviews, yet seamlessly segued into spinning stories around deliciously surreal flights of fancy. Jon’s coverage of the Westminster Bridge terror attack, live on air as it unfolded, was widely praised.
Jon is the author of four books, the latest ‘A Portrait Of An Idiot As A Young Man' ("Poignant, charming... a masterclass in comedy writing" - Press Association) is was published in paperback by Orion.
He is also an award-winning freelance travel writer, most regularly for the Sunday Times for whom he travels all over the world to look at it and write about it.
His radio documentary Saving Mountain Gorillas recorded in the jungle on the Rwandan / Congolese border earned him a ‘Best Broadcast’ nomination at the Travel Media Awards. His BBC report from the St Kitts Music Festival saw him nominated in the same category. He is 'Highly Commended' as Travel Writer of the Year 2020 and winner of 'Best Feature' for his attempts to help rebuild an ancient wall in Portugal. He is nominated again for both 'Best Worldwide Feature' and 'Best Travel Writer' 2021 in the British Guild of Travel Writers' Awards.
Once, he had to get into a four poster bed with the late actor Stratford Johns in order to wire him up to a car battery. Long story.
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