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John Finnemore’s Souvenir Programme - Series 9

Started by mothman, May 08, 2021, 02:02:24 AM

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mothman

Started on Thursday. But there's a twist...

QuoteThe ninth series of John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme is very different to the previous eight. It's still written by John Finnemore, "one of our best sketch writers", (The Observer), and performed by him with "a great supporting cast of Margaret Cabourn-Smith, Simon Kane, Lawry Lewin and Carrie Quinlan" (The Telegraph), and there are still sketches and songs. But, with no live studio audience this year, John has taken the opportunity to try something completely new.

Every episode in this series of Souvenir Programme is made up of scenes from one person's life, played in reverse order. There's no narrative to the episode; it's still a sketch show, not a sitcom... but the sketches in each episode all happened to one person, played by one member of the cast, over the course of their lifetime.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000vqr4

I haven't actually listened to ep. 1 yet (I only really have time to listen to podcasts etc. on the way to and from work) so it'll be interesting to see if this works. As he's clocked up more series's of JFSP, he's increasingly become more experimental and intricate in playing with the formula of the show, and introducing some quite clever narrative complexity - the episode from an earlier series where every sketch actually happens in the same continuity, but you have no idea until he pulls it all together in the Since You Ask Me segment at the end, being a good example.

That skill also came into play in his 2019 live show (JF's Flying Visit) which I took my elder daughter to see (her souvenir t-shirt from that, with a yellow car on, is a prized possession of hers). No spoilers, but it was a really fun show.

(I also enjoyed the Cabin Pressure With Arthur Shappey videos he did during Lockdown 1, though did get the feeling they maybe went on a bit too long, but it was still something to look forward to as that time dragged on)


Consignia

Cheers for the heads up. Love me a bit of Finnermore, and it's easy to miss good stuff on Radio 4.

mothman

OK, I don't know HOW this has ended up here[nb]The answer is usually "It was late and I was tired."[/nb], but it was obviously meant to be in Comedy Chat... *facepalm*

Johnny Yesno

CHECK OUT THIS DUNCE


But I do really appreciate the headsup. Many thanks.

mothman

It's a fair cop, but society[nb]A really strong Starbucks filter coffee I really had too late yesterday morning[/nb] is to blame.

studpuppet

Quote from: mothman on May 08, 2021, 02:02:24 AM
...the episode from an earlier series where every sketch actually happens in the same continuity, but you have no idea until he pulls it all together in the Since You Ask Me segment at the end, being a good example.

It was this episode I was thinking of, when I suggested he should have been called in to tie up the Line Of Duty plot.

Johnny Yesno

I don't know why he hasn't been asked to write an episode of Doctor Who.

I'm glad he's trying something different, and it was certainly interesting and enjoyable to listen to, but I couldn't help feeling the lack of jokes. With a few exceptions, it felt like the brief was a series of scenes from someone's life, rather than sketches.

I'll certainly keep listening - and would be suprised if is doesn't gain depth with characters linking between episodes - but on the basis of the first episode, I don't see this series being as enduring as the last eight. I cling, however, to the hope that the central character for one the future episodes will unexpectedly turn out to be an animal, accidentally listen to The Archers or be Patsy Straightwoman.


olliebean

I felt the change of format had likely come about as a result of having to record it remotely and without an audience.

Kept waiting for a reveal of where that song had originally come from, but it never came (unless I zoned out and missed it).

DrGreggles

I'll definitely be giving this a listen, but the last couple of JFSP series have felt like Finnemore on autopilot.
He is a superb writer and I'm surprised he hasn't done anything long-form yet.
Cabin Pressure, as well as being bloody hilarious, proved how good he is at plots/narrative too.

Quote from: mothman on May 08, 2021, 02:02:24 AM
That skill also came into play in his 2019 live show (JF's Flying Visit) which I took my elder daughter to see (her souvenir t-shirt from that, with a yellow car on, is a prized possession of hers). No spoilers, but it was a really fun show.

I was at Flying Visit too.
Loved the
Spoiler alert
God cameo
[close]
.

studpuppet

Yeah - not sure it should have been put out under the Souvenir Programme banner, unless the following episodes intertwine with characters who have been bit-parts in the first one and the humour element is cumulative. Highlight was Lorenzo de Medici done as a Boris Johnson impersonation (at least that's how I heard it).

Andy147

Quote from: mothman on May 08, 2021, 02:02:24 AM
(I also enjoyed the Cabin Pressure With Arthur Shappey videos he did during Lockdown 1, though did get the feeling they maybe went on a bit too long, but it was still something to look forward to as that time dragged on)

Cabin Fever! with Arthur Shappey.
I rewatched them all last week, and also thought he should probably have stopped at 20 rather than 26.

Episode 2 of the new series is about Deborah - presumably the same Deborah who was in at least the first scene of Episode 1.

godber

Quote from: mothman on May 08, 2021, 02:02:24 AM
the episode from an earlier series where every sketch actually happens in the same continuity, but you have no idea until he pulls it all together in the Since You Ask Me segment at the end, being a good example

Does anyone remember which episode/series this was? I'm keen to go back and listen. Thanks

MojoJojo

I think it's series 7, although audible seems to be being an arse so I can't check/work out which episode.

Andy147

Series 7 Episode 6, and also to a lesser extent Series 4 Episode 6.


mothman

Quote from: Slingback Synapse on May 08, 2021, 03:09:28 PM
I'm glad he's trying something different, and it was certainly interesting and enjoyable to listen to, but I couldn't help feeling the lack of jokes. With a few exceptions, it felt like the brief was a series of scenes from someone's life, rather than sketches.

I'll certainly keep listening - and would be suprised if is doesn't gain depth with characters linking between episodes - but on the basis of the first episode, I don't see this series being as enduring as the last eight. I cling, however, to the hope that the central character for one the future episodes will unexpectedly turn out to be an animal, accidentally listen to The Archers or be Patsy Straightwoman.

Now I've listened to it, I have to agree. What was the point? The "sketches" were like a bunch of notes for a potential Double Act that never gelled. The only time I laughed was the Since You Ask Me.

I may be doing him a disservice, but I often feel Lawrie Lewin is the least versatile of Finnemore's troupe - less range, fewer accents etc. This episode didn't do much to dispel that.

First they came for the theme tune, and I did not speak up because I was not a theme tune
Then they came for the jokes...

mothman

The fact there are recurring characters from last week makes me assume there's some big picture at work here. It's the only explanation fir the dearth of anything resembling humour.

olliebean

To be honest, apart from Finnemore's "Since you ask me for a story" man (and I'm not even sure that was the same character in both episodes), I didn't remember any of the characters from last week well enough to notice them recurring this week.

Still, I suppose that means the silly song from last week probably will get explained at some point.

mothman

Deborah (MC-S, e2) is Russ's (LL, e1) mother, that's all I remember. I think the SYAM storyteller in both was called Newt.

phantom_power

Quote from: olliebean on May 17, 2021, 10:39:24 PM


Still, I suppose that means the silly song from last week probably will get explained at some point.

In the next sketch set a few years before doesn't someone mention doing a rock cover of a kitsch 50s/60s song? I was listening to it last night and may have been falling asleep at that point so might be wrong

Pranet

Ok, I admit I have not been laughing, as such, but I am still enjoying it. It is like he wanted to write a sort of experiment drama and Radio 4 said no, but you can do another Souvenir Programme if you want.

I really like John Finnemore but I thought the last series of Souvenir Programme was a bit lacklustre- not surprising given the amount of sketch comedy he as written if he is a bit burnt out. So I'm happy to go with this for now.

Quote from: phantom_power on May 18, 2021, 09:15:30 AM
In the next sketch set a few years before doesn't someone mention doing a rock cover of a kitsch 50s/60s song? I was listening to it last night and may have been falling asleep at that point so might be wrong

This is correct, and in the second episode, we hear the origins of this in an improvised lullaby Deborah sings to the infant Russ.

Apart from the two so far and Finnemore as Uncle Newt, the only character I've noticed in both episodes is Simon Kane as Deboarh's father - he's in the Zoom meeting at the star of the first, and in a couple of the second week's sketches (Scrabble while recovering from a stroke and the restaurant) - so I assume he'll be the focus of one episode. Have Finnemore or Quinlan played the same character more than once? I suppose there's Russ's Australian partner, but I'm not sure he could make the accent work for a full episode.

Pranet

Quote from: Slingback Synapse on May 18, 2021, 07:36:31 PM
Have Finnemore or Quinlan played the same character more than once? I suppose there's Russ's Australian partner, but I'm not sure he could make the accent work for a full episode.

Ha! Yes I was thinking that would be a bold move if he tried that.

olliebean

Quote from: phantom_power on May 18, 2021, 09:15:30 AM
In the next sketch set a few years before doesn't someone mention doing a rock cover of a kitsch 50s/60s song? I was listening to it last night and may have been falling asleep at that point so might be wrong

The original song that they ended up doing came from one of the characters getting the words of the old song completely wrong, IIRC. That explained where the band got the song from, but it wasn't explained why he got it so totally wrong.

I think tonight's (episode 3) is the most enjoyable so far. I'm not sure if this is because it's actually higher quality, because I went into it knowing what to expect, or because the characters have gained depth and believability as we've encountered them over the weeks.

I agree that putting it out as a series of JFSP, rather than a new format in it's own right, was a mistake, as the name brings expectations, and disappointment inevitably ensues when these are not met, whereas, for example, Double Acts was free to be what it was - I listened expecting an interesting play, and took the laughs as a bonus.

Comedically, it's limited by the fact that he's clearly tried, largely successfully, to create plausible windows on the lives of believable characters, and this would be undermined by having the situations normally heard in JFSP or the dialogue of Cabin Pressure, since real people's dialogue is not a stream of feed lines and witty put-downs.

I'm guessing that we'll get a week of Uncle Newt, whom I had originally assumed had been inserted as a one-dimensional vehicle for delivering "since you ask me"s, but I think now that that could work for an episode.

mothman

This was a lot more fun. It's now becoming clear what it is: a sort of... what's the word? Bildungsroman? Probably not... First Russ, then his mum Deborah, now her dad Jerry. Three generations (and counting? More on that in a minute) of the same family, and exploring how their little quirks propagate through. "Every family has a secret - and that secret is, they're not like other families" Alan Bennett said once. This encapsulates this perfectly.

Has it been said how many episodes there are this series? Because if it's the usual six, then given Carrie Quinlan hasn't done one yet then I imagine it'll be either Jerry's mother or possibly his wife next (though I'm not sure if it's CQ or MCS who does either voice). Maybe it'll just be five, with the finale setting out exactly who Uncle Newt is and what his initial connection is to the family.

EDIT: and, I've been singing "Woof woof woooof, goes the wolfhound" ALL BLOODY DAY.

Andy147

Quote from: mothman on May 21, 2021, 08:30:57 PM
This was a lot more fun. It's now becoming clear what it is: a sort of... what's the word? Bildungsroman? Probably not... First Russ, then his mum Deborah, now her dad Jerry. Three generations (and counting? More on that in a minute) of the same family, and exploring how their little quirks propagate through. "Every family has a secret - and that secret is, they're not like other families" Alan Bennett said once. This encapsulates this perfectly.

Has it been said how many episodes there are this series? Because if it's the usual six, then given Carrie Quinlan hasn't done one yet then I imagine it'll be either Jerry's mother or possibly his wife next (though I'm not sure if it's CQ or MCS who does either voice). Maybe it'll just be five, with the finale setting out exactly who Uncle Newt is and what his initial connection is to the family.

EDIT: and, I've been singing "Woof woof woooof, goes the wolfhound" ALL BLOODY DAY.

Jerry's wife was voiced by Margaret Cabourn-Smith, his mother by Carrie Quinlan.
Next week's features Carrie Quinlan as "Vanessa" according to iPlayer, with Newt featured in Episode 5.

Some evidence that the usual Souvenir Programme style of sketch doesn't work as well without audience laughter (though of course the actors are playing it very differently): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pi7ySXfXdVY

mothman

Quote from: Andy147 on May 21, 2021, 10:27:59 PM
Jerry's wife was voiced by Margaret Cabourn-Smith, his mother by Carrie Quinlan.
Next week's features Carrie Quinlan as "Vanessa" according to iPlayer, with Newt featured in Episode 5.

There you go. I'm terrible at telling their voices apart, even after seeing them live on stage...