The best comedy programmes on Radio 4


James Acaster

Including Hal, The Elephant Man, James Acaster's Findings and Start / Stop

The ‘Radio 4 comedy voice’ has been mercilessly mimicked and mocked by both Simon Munnery and Stewart Lee, and it’s cranked up to 11 in a variety of shows currently on the station. They would routinely hate Hal (Radio 4, Sun 16 Nov, 7.15pm ●●●), the sitcom from Hal Cruttenden in which he plays, yep, Hal, a stay-at-home dad to two small ones who are getting bigger and needing him less and less, while his wife (Anna Crilly) is an international go-getter. Ed Byrne and Gavin Webster also crop up.

The Elephant Man (Radio 4 Extra, Thu 20 Nov, 7am ●●●) is the series from 1996 in which Peter Serafinowicz plays a hapless zookeeper at an establishment which is lurching towards bankruptcy. Less surreal than its similarly-set contemporary from the Mighty Boosh, an ‘ilarious misunderstanding about some poisoned food sets the tone.

Food, more specifically fruit, has been on the mind of Kettering’s finest in James Acaster’s Findings (Radio 4, Wed 19 Nov, 11pm ●●●) as the Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee delivers the curious results of his scatterbrained research on various topics (musings on wood, wheels and paint complete the series).

The pick of the bunch, though, is Start / Stop (Radio 4, Mon 17 Nov, 11.30am ●●●●), Jack Absolutely Docherty’s fourth-wall breaking sitcom (yes, you can do that on the radio, apparently) about three very different marriages in various states of disrepair. A glittering cast (including John Thomson, Fiona Allen, Kerry Godliman and Charlie Higson) bring it all to silly, silly life.