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The International Writers Magazine:

I’ve Never Seen Star Wars - BBC Radio 4
Aired on 23/10/08
Produced by Bill Dare
Sam Richards

You might not expect hearing about Esther Rantzen’s opinions on ironing a shirt to be entertaining in the slightest. However, Marcus Brigstocke’s comedy/chat show where celebrities try new activities is funny, interesting, and motivates the listener to throw caution to the wind and embrace a fresh experience.

Marcus Brigstocke

The premise of the show is that each week a different guest is challenged to partake in a variety of activities that they have never done before, such as purchasing a pornographic magazine or doing some online social networking. After this Brigstocke interviews them on their experience of the activities, finding out how they would rate them and if they would be undertaking them again.

One of the programme’s strengths is that the challenges are not crazy or exotic, they are fairly mundane things that the guests haven’t ever done, whether it be through choice or chance. Rather than making the show boring, this actually makes it more interesting because the listener can relate to the experiences of the celebrities. We can understand their frustration or enjoyment because we know how it feels to be ‘poked’ repeatedly on Facebook.

Without the right host a show like I’ve Never Seen Star Wars could fall flat on its face, but Marcus Brigstocke is definitely the right man for the job. He has a good rapport with his guests and his witty humour adds to the comedic nature of the show. He states that he is "interested in why people have avoided certain quite ordinary activities, because it can be so revealing. And then I get their take on what the experience feels like for the first time."

Esther Rantzen was the guest on the episode that I listened to, something that put me off slightly. I’ve never really warmed to her, not for any reason in particular, but was happily surprised to find her to actually be quite funny. Her new experiences, including using Facebook and listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, were very amusing, especially her bizarre uncontrollable giggling whilst having her feet massaged, the reason why she had never tried reflexology before.

Aside from the funny aspects of I’ve Never Seen Star Wars, it is actually quite an inspiring programme. Although a lot of the challenges are things that most people have done before, like drinking a pint of beer, some of them are things that the listener might be encouraged to try. I was interested in reading Evelyn Waugh’s ‘Scoop’ after listening to the discussion on the book and Rantzen’s views on it. The show is a good way to find new things to sample, with the variety of challenges bound to appeal to a range of listeners, each person being able to find something to try.

I have to admit, the reason I was initially drawn to the programme was that I thought it might have something to do with my favourite series of films (excluding the awful prequel trilogy of course). I wasn’t disappointed however, as I’ve Never Seen Star Wars was very humorous and fascinating. It will make you look at the mundane things in life in a new light and encourage you to try things that you’ve never done.

© Sam Richards Nov 1st 2008
<shl60123 at

Sam is studying Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth

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