The News Huddlines (Radio 2) was one of the BBC’s last old-style comedy shows, with fine roots that could be traced back back to the great days of shows like ITMA and Beyond the Fringe. Despite being hugely popular with its audience, it was axed unceremoniously at the end of 2001. Roy Hudd, its presenter, has just revealed why. He was taken to lunch by an (unnamed) BBC senior executive and told bluntly: “We’d like you to be more like Jonathan Ross”. The executive, says Hudd, then explained that Wossy’s flashy blend of “smut and smugness”, was what was now wanted of Radio 2 performers – “cool, edgy, relevant”.
Now I’m all for making change when change is due and maybe after 26 years, the News Huddlines was a tad tired. But it had a loyal older audience, and it surely speaks volumes about today’s BBC that its senior executives prefer the obscene, in-your-face Ross to steely veteran professionals like Roy Hudd. And instead of the deceptively gentle, genuinely humorous satire of Hudd and his crew (which included brilliant performers such as Alison Steadman) we now have, disguised as BBC ‘comedy’, the blatant left-wing cant of idiots like Marcus Brigstocke.