Ed Reardon’s Christmas Special On BBC Radio 4

by Ian D Smith

Episode 50, the Christmas special on Christmas Day at 8:30 am, revealed an angrier, more impotent Ed, now wearing strawberry cords and protesting hopelessly, like an ex-pat Mail on Sunday reader. The usual targets: BBC Four, seasonal TV, charity Christmas cards, postmen, global warming, Salman Rushdie, the Guardian, abstract art, JK Rowling’s A Casual Vacancy, Oxfam shops, creative writing classes, the Archbishop of Canterbury, anti-smoking campaigners, Christmas Rev, and kebab shops all came in for Ed’s not-quite-Jeremy-Clarkson treatment. Not that anyone would get the irony.

He unsubtly plugged his latest work: Mary Beard’s Roman Christmas Feast, and rather pointlessly, Barbara Windsor’s Christmas Nosh-up 2004, which hasn’t been available since the end of her Eastender’s Jellied Eel Cookbook tie-in. (it’s a joke)

Maybe irony is dead, but his agent’s party seemed like a party he couldn’t afford to miss. He really does need to rediscover that great idea he once lost in the secret pocket of his fleece (The Wrong Fleece, Series Four), or else his writing class will revolt and show him how to do it. After all Fifty Shades of Grey was clearly an amateur effort that came out of the, shall we say, second tier of writers.

Disappointingly, Ed must be losing his literary grip. There was no reference to his near miss this year with Forty Shades of Brown, currently 252043 in the Amazon Rankings (it’s another joke). Maybe he feared offending the undiscerning masses who consumed the real Fifty Shades like free postage stamps, thus driving them back to Alan Titchmarsh on Classic FM.

No, Ed clearly remains the jealously guarded property of curmudgeonly writers like me, fabulously elitist, with many obscure literary references to savour, such as “a cheeky little jobsky”, “agency Christmas party”, and “I’m a Plebebrity”. Brilliant work sneaked in under the 12-year-old producer’s radar.