Ear Candy: Call Jonathan Pie

Ear Candy: Call Jonathan Pie

Wednesday, 12th July 2023
Call Jonathan Pie (Credit: BBC)
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You could say that Jonathan Pie prophesied the exodus of talent from the BBC.

Tom Walker’s inspiration for the character, essentially a politically charged Alan Partridge, was his assumption that newsreaders must be frustrated having to stick so rigidly and impartially to the agenda. Especially when covering the dire state of modern politics.

I’m not saying that the likes of Emily Maitlis, Jon Sopel and Andrew Marr dreamed of exorcising their frustration by going off on one of Pie’s shouty and sweary monologues, but they did all leave for less impartial pastures.

Speaking of the “traitors” (Pie’s word not mine), all three get a mention in the first episode of Walker’s new comedy podcast, Call Jonathan Pie, in which Pie is handed the reins of a fictional BBC Radio phone-in show as a last resort.

The producers fail to find a better replacement for its regular presenter, who’s “gone down with a bad case of touching up sixth formers in the 1990s”, because, as Pie puts it, “even Doctor Who’s fucked off to Disney.”

It seems the BBC is in on the joke - the show is broadcast on Radio 4. But the actual phone-in segments lead to the kind of humiliating shtick that will be familiar to anyone who’s tuned in to another station, as Pie verbally batters one soft-headed caller after another like he’s James O’Brien on LBC.

There’s not a lot of nuance, then, but, as with the best of Pie’s YouTube rants, there are cathartic laughs to be had at ignorance of all stripes.

This includes Brexiteers such as “Gavin”, who calls in to complain about the weakness of the blue British passports on the Henley Passport Index. The problem isn’t Brexit, he reckons, but the colour blue itself.

Cue Pie’s putdown, albeit with the caveat that he’s not allowed to mention the “B word” in a negative way without “giving Nigel Farage a full episode of Newsnight to guest present, all in the name of balance”.

That’s the sound of Maitlis laughing in agreement.