BBC Radio 50th anniversary: 7 TV shows that started out on radio

Wednesday 27 September 2017 12:11 BST Click to followThe Independent Culture

Radio is one of the wondrous mediums for exploration: free from the limitations of its compatriots, it offers a perpetual opportunity to bring focus right down to the power of words and ideas in themselves.

Most importantly, it also marks a relatively low-risk opportunity to test out new talent; that's especially true of BBC Radio 4, which has long been the perfect testing ground for some of the biggest names in British comedy.

Indeed, many prominent TV series got their first start on radio, before being adapted for the small screen: from The Mighty Boosh , to Count Arthur Strong , Room 101 to Dead Ringers . Peep Show’s David Mitchell and Robert Webb reuniting for new C4 sitcom

30 September marks the 50th anniversary of the BBC's major networks: BBC Radio 1, first launched as a pop music station, BBC Light Programme, which became Radio 2, BBC Third Programme, which became Radio 3, and BBC Home Service, which became Radio 4.

To celebrate, we rounded up seven TV shows that first started their life on Radio 4; a testament to the radio station's incredible mark on modern British culture. 7 TV shows that started out on the radio 7 TV shows that started out on the radio 1/7 The Mighty Boosh

Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt's ultra-surreal sitcom spawned out of three stage shows and a six-episode radio series which aired in October 2001; first on BBC London Live, then BBC Radio 4, and later BBC 7. Much like the TV show, The Boosh focused on a pair of zookeepers at Bob Fossil's Funworld: Howard TJ Moon (Barratt), jazz lover and sensitive soul, and Vince Noir (Fielding), the egotistical style-obsessive. 2/7 Red Dwarf

The intergalactic sitcom first spawned from BBC Radio 4's Son of Cliché in the mid-1980s, written by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor; specifically, a series of five sketches titled Dave Hollins: Space Cadet, with followed the adventures of a hapless space traveller (voiced by Nick Wilton) marooned in space and his companion computer Hab (voiced by Chris Barrie). Grant and Naylor were inspired to turn the sketches into a TV series after watching the film Dark Star, adding the characters of Arnold Rimmer and the Cat; the name Dave Hollins was changed to Dave Lister after a football player named Dave Hollins shot up in popularity. 3/7 That Mitchell and Webb Look

The comedy duo's TV debut actually came with 2001's The Mitchell and Webb Situation, which only ran for a single six-episode series. 2006's That Mitchell and Webb Look, however, acts as an adaptation of an earlier radio sketch show titled That Mitchell and Webb Sound, which aired on BBC Radio 4 from 2003-2007. Sketches that featured on both radio and TV include Ted and Peter, the snooker commentators, and The Surprising Adventures of Sir Digby Caesar-Salad. 4/7 Little Britain

The wildly popular sketch show initially found life on BBC Radio 4, running from 2000-2002; the TV version adapted much of the radio version's material, though with a greater emphasis on recurring characters and catchphrases. 5/7 The League of Gentlemen

From the dark, twisted minds of Jeremy Dyson, Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton, and Reece Shearsmith came The League of Gentlemen; it began as a stage show in late 1994, taking its name from the Jack Hawkins film of the same name. After winning the Perrier award for comedy at Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1997, the radio series On the Town with The League of Gentlemen first debuted on BBC Radio 4. When it was adapted into TV, the fictional town of Spent became Royston Vasey. 6/7 Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Whose Line Is It Anyway? is best known in its long-running American version, but the show, of course, actually had its roots in the UK; it began first as a BBC Radio 4 programme created by Dan Patterson and Mark Leveson, with Clive Anderson as host, and John Sessions and Stephen Fry as regulars. Channel 4 snapped up the show, running for a total of 10 series, before it was cancelled due to a slump in ratings. It found immediate new popularity, however, when it started airing on ABC in the US. 7/7 The Day Today

Armando Iannucci and Chris Morris' spoof of the world of current affairs broadcasting started on BBC Radio 4 as On the Hour, which also starred Morris as an overzealous and self-important anchor; Steve Coogan, Rebecca Front, Doon Mackichan, Patrick Marber, and David Schneider also appeared. The Day Today adapted much of the radio series, most importantly the very first appearance of Alan Partridge, here a hapless sports correspondent.

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