Radio Active: a joyous reunion

Christian Butler

Topics Culture

Radio Active was a long-running Radio 4 comedy show in the 1980s. Original cast members Angus Deayton, Helen Atkinson-Wood, Michael Fenton Stevens and Philip Pope reunite at this year’s Fringe to present classic sketches from the original show. Radio Active first grew out of an Oxford Revue show at the 1979 Fringe, so it’s a perfect setting.

The show is presented as if performed for radio, with the actors talking into mics and holding scripts. Presented as programmes on a fictional radio station, the sketches contain memorable characters and parody numerous radio formats. Radio Active’s humour is classic Radio 4, with lots of puns, absurd set ups and high-brow references.

The material – written by Deayton, the late Geoffrey Perkins and Richard Curtis – has aged surprisingly well. Navigating complex dialogue, the cast members are excellent. And the songs, written by Pope, are a particular treat – the evening ending with a performance by the HeeBeeGeeBees, the troupe’s famed Bee Gees spoof.


Christian Butler is a writer based in London.

Radio Active is at the Pleasance Courtyard until 28 August.

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Topics Culture


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