Stewart Lee's history of stand-up on TV

Thinking inside the box with the maverick comedian

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Iconoclast comedian Stewart Lee knows TV's delicate relationship with live comedy better than anyone. Ahead of his Comedy Central series showcasing leftfield comics he outlines the history of stand-up on television…

Picture credit: Steve Ullathorne.

‘Boom Boom… Out Go the Lights’ (1980-81, BBC2)

Short-lived, two-episode showcase for newfangled “alternative comedy”, comprising the DNA of the next 30 years of British stand-up. Brightly lit social workers drinking BBC orange squash fail to process the innovations of Rik and Ade’s Dangerous Brothers double act, Pauline Melville, and masked machine-gunman Keith Allen, all inexplicably interspersed with feelgood R&B from Paul Jones.

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