“bashed be biff by all with ears”: Chris Morris's Blue Jam and Taboo Radio

Richard Hand, Robert Dean

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Chris Morris is a product of radio. A graduate trainee on BBC radio, he became a presenter on regional BBC and the GLR. In the early 1990s, On the Hour (BBC Radio 4, 1991-92) brought Morris to a national audience as part of an ensemble comprising a new generation of audio satirists. The Chris Morris Music Show (BBC Radio 1, 1994) and Why Bother? (BBC Radio 3, 1994) - comedy dialogues between Morris and Peter Cook - are also distinctive achievements in audio comedy. However, the primary focus of this essay will be Blue Jam (1997-99), Morris's three-season music/comedy series for BBC Radio 1. Blue Jam combines music, comedy sketches and monologues with an ambient soundtrack. Within this, the programmes utilize an extraordinarily controlled pace in an exploration of social satire and taboo through abstract, even dream-like, humour. For a radio scholar such as Tim Crook, Morris's provocative radio work warrants comparison with Orson Welles. Furthermore, it could be argued that Morris's unique development of the concept of the soundscape in Blue Jam represents an apotheosis of both audio comedy and, paradoxically, the alienating essence of the medium (radio's “disembodied voice”). This will be explored through a close analysis of specific examples from the three series. Finally, some attention will be given to the television adaptation of Blue Jam into Jam (Channel 4, 2000) and its “remix” version Jaaaaam with a particular interest in how visual poetics are deployed in an attempt to find an equivalent to the auditory universe of Blue Jam.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNo Known Cure: The Comedy of Chris Morris
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2013


  • radio
  • comedy


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