Where can you find Neil Armstrong, Banksy, David Bowie, Uri Geller, and a fire alarm enthusiast all in one place? It’s comedian Kevin Eldon’s 2012 BBC Radio 4 sketch comedy show Kevin Eldon Will See You Now. Essentially an early voyage for sketches that would later solidify in Eldon’s TV sketch show It’s Kevin and/or his Edinburgh show Kevin Eldon Is Titting About, this show plays to the radio format–using the tools of call-ins, annoying hold music, commercials, and in-studio scenarios (such as a fly on the mic)–and features Kevin Eldon as your charming host who occasionally lets the veil slip and kicks people out of the studio.
We get many of the staple Eldon characters, such as A Fictional Man from the North. While we don’t get Harold DuBois per se, we do get the French Proclaimers cover band singing “500 Miles.” In fact, Eldon will go to great lengths to show off his different foreign accents, even so far as having a German-turned-Mexican-Bandit. The one staple we’re missing is Paul Hamilton, poet, but perhaps this is because Hamilton already had his own radio series in a different Eldon-fronted series, which he wrote with Stewart Lee, Poet’s Tree, which I especially recommend if you like Eldon but can’t handle his more extreme clowning around. And this is exactly that: clowning around. The series begins with a society of annoying voices, and season 1 ends on Eldon making noises in lieu of an anthem. It’s not exactly heady stuff (in fact, if it gets too intelligent, an alarm goes of, such as “Satire! Satire!”), but it’s the sort of thing you might expect from other clowns, like Danny Kaye or Jim Carey, or indeed the Pythons.
In addition to showing off foreign accents, Eldon, who used to front a new wave band, flaunts his musical talents with classics from his repertoire like the I Haven’t Got a Catch Phrase Song, as well as ones I’d never heard before like a song about hats. Using Phil Cornwell from his supporting cast, there’s also a three-part sketch involving David Bowie circa 1973 bare-knuckle fist fighting a bus, which contains a brilliant Bowie spoof song, asking the bus security man to leave him alone.
You’ve seen the doctor sketches in It’s Kevin, as well as the perfect sandwich sketch, the sketch about what Neil Armstrong really said on the moon, and the horrible lottery where you win a 24-hour tape of Ricky Gervais laughing. You may not have heard his science fiction sketches, which I feel are the highlight. In one, we receive the recording of an astronaut telling us he’s landed on an alien desert island just before we hear someone knocking on his door, not unlike that episode of Doctor Who, which would come later. In another, a sports caster is covering how an alien invasion has interrupted the game, but he doesn’t shut up while the aliens are making their declaration of invasion to the people of earth, and this really annoys the aliens because sports casters are a foreign concept to them. There’s also an interview with the world’s biggest fire alarm enthusiast, which includes archive recordings of BBC Radio’s past fire alarms, and a hypnotist, which echoes Bridget Christie’s ant routine. (“We didn’t have a hypnotist on the show last week, so Radio 4 says we must have a hypnotist on this week in the interest of balance.”) You also may recognize the Sally Phillips “stupid man” sketch from this video, but in the radio version, Eldon plays the interviewer rather than the stupid man.
Season 2, which was released in 2014 (after It’s Kevin), is a vast improvement on season 1, so it’s no surprise that it was nominated for a Rose d’Or award in their new radio category. Season 2 gives us more adventures in space, time travel, and Kevin getting annoyed at sub-par guests. He takes the micky out of the Tories with a song about liars, out of wheat intolerance, and out of observational comedians with a failed attempt to make a robot version of John Bishop. Most impressively, he sings a full length ditty of the credits/acknowledgements at the end of the fourth and final episode.
Guests include Amelia Bullmore, Rosie Cavaliero, Julia Davis, Paul Putner, Justin Edwards, David Reed, Philip Pope, and Phil Cornwell.
You can find many clips of the show on YouTube, but the whole thing is purchasable on Audible, season 1 and 2 sold separately.