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Births, Deaths and Marriages

Last night I went to a BBC recording of a new Radio 4 comedy, Births, Deaths and Marriages, written by and starring David Schneider (known to me as the cute one out of The Saturday Night Armistice; also remarkable for his brief, bizarre cameos in 28 Days Later, The Saint and Mission: Impossible). Also in the cast, unannounced, was Russell Tovey, the jug-eared werewolf from Being Human.

The show is a gentle comedy, very British, very BBC, set in a registry office. Schneider plays the rather Gordon Brittas-like chief registrar Malcolm Fox, a decent yet annoying bastion of tradition in a world of change and designated breastfeeding areas. (David Schneider, at the start: "Now, I'm sure you're all familiar with registry offices...anyone been in one lately? To get married? Yes, you? To the person next to you, or someone else? Anyone else got married lately? Anyone been born?...No? Good, good...")

Being part of the studio audience always feels special, like being in on an exclusive joke or party. With radio, it's fun to see how actors' appearances differ from the way their voices later make them sound, and to observe which ones just speak and which ones perform little bits of business at the mike. (It seemed to me yesterday that everyone had bothered to dress appropriately for their character, too, though perhaps David Schneider always wears a tie and a jumper.) It's even fun to sit through the re-takes of lines at the end, though it can be hard to muster a laugh for a joke you've already heard, now appearing out of context. Laughs all round, though, as the cast attempted a tricky bit with several lines of dialogue timed around the National Anthem that got worse with every try.

The first episode goes out on May 25th; listen for my laugh as, on the second take, I actually get the final joke.


Bah, pet bugbear of mine! One does not get born, or married, or die in a registry office. Unfortunately, many of the people who print signs to register offices (where one does get born, or married, or die) do not know this. If the BBC has made this error as well, I shall either have to bow to common usage or go into a decline :(

A registry office, for anyone who hasn't got bored and stopped reading, is where you go to hire your domestic staff.
Sorry, that sounded very rude! Other than that, it does sound like exactly the sort of comedy I might like, and thank you for flagging it up :)
No, it was entirely me getting it wrong; Mr Schneider referred to it as a register office throughout (in fact was so conversant with the detail of what goes on in one that I wonder if he worked in one once), which sounded wrong to me because I had never, ever heard the term!
David Schneider? Cute?

You're odd. :-p

If I was forced to nominate one of the Armistice team as cute, it would be Peter Baynham.

Did you ever listen to I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue and wonder why Humph suddenly got an inexplicable round of applause for saying something apparently mundane? (As opposed to getting a thoroughly explicable round of applause for announcing a round of Mornington Crescent, of course.) Having been in the studio audience a few times, I now know that those were the things that took half a dozen re-takes. (-8
Oh, I can believe it!