It’s all smiles as University helps with BBC comedy history series

Tuesday 12 March 2013
David Mitchell
David Mitchell

BBC Radio 2 has drawn on the expertise of staff at the University of Salford and one of its unique archives to help with a series chronicling the story of British comedy over the last century.

First broadcast last week and going out at 10pm today (Tuesday 12 March) and the following two Tuesdays, Radio 2’s History of Comedy is presented by comedian David Mitchell, who takes on the formidable task of recounting the development of comedy in Britain from the age of the music hall to the present day.

Series producers Made in Manchester Productions have sourced material from the Mike Craig Comedy Archive, a collection of historic BBC radio comedy show recordings gathered by late BBC producer and scriptwriter Mike Craig, which is now housed in the University’s Library archives unit.

The series also uses extracts from extensive interviews with comedy expert Dr Chris Lee from the University’s School of Arts & Media and member of the Communication, Cultural and Media Studies Research Centre.

Chris said: “The producers knew about my research into comedy and had seen me on TV programmes such as BBC 4’s Rude Britannia and Blackpool: Big Night Out on BBC 2. I was asked to discuss all sorts of aspects of comedy, from the development of stand-up – a new performance form in the early 1900s that would be almost unrecognisable today – to the rise of double acts, which were actually illegal on the music hall stage until the 1930s.

“Finally, I was able to bring it all up to date by talking about one of the University of Salford’s most famous alumni, Peter Kay.”

For more details of Radio 2’s History of Comedy and to listen online to previously broadcast episodes, visit