As you may have spotted we’ve been commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Mighty Boosh radio series with a collection of articles about the show and the relevant artists that preempted it. But what do the originators of the Boosh series think about what they created?
To conclude our series we were lucky enough to talk to Noel Fielding about the Boosh radio show – and about a new radio offering he’s been working on.
If you were to arrange everyone in the world into a long line starting from the least visual people and ending with the most visual, Noel Fielding would be somewhere at the very far end. His colour-mashing paintings, the fantastical costumes and characters he’s designed for the Boosh and his new TV show, and even the clothes he wears all point to someone whose creativity flourishes in the visual image. So how does that sit with the Boosh’s first broadcast outing taking place through the medium of sound? Noel smiles, “I found it quite frustrating – I used to paint the characters for the radio show and Julian would go ‘You do know this is a radio show don’t you, you idiot!’”
“But I love the fact you can paint amazing pictures in radio, like if you want to go inside a club inside a tree you can just go ‘There’s a club inside this tree Howard’…(makes creaking noise)…and then you’re in there, and it’s great. Because of what we wanted to do with the Boosh, personally I think the radio show might be better than the TV show. I love being able to create those worlds, and for us radio was probably the best medium. If it was the 50s and we’d done it live with an audience we’d probably have just done a hundred of those.”
Radio offers a freedom of visual expression which has also resonated with one of Noel’s heroes, Spike Milligan: “Milligan had massive problems with people trying to get him to do television. He said ‘You can’t get what’s inside my head on a screen.’”
Now Noel is returning to radio, with a project he’s been working on with Chris Morris and Richard Ayoade. At the time of writing it consists of six ten minute programmes which have been written by all three, performed by Noel and Ayoade, and produced by Morris (still in progress). The series has been five years in the making due to the trio’s busy schedules and Noel is “very proud” of them. He says, “We did it for ourselves and we really enjoyed it. Working with those two has been really good – even just the experience on its own has been so nourishing and fulfilling it almost doesn’t matter if we put it out or not.”
The problem that they’re currently tussling with is exactly how to put the series out to ensure that people can fully enjoy it. A one-off live performance, cassettes and other offbeat suggestions are proffered. Noel explains, “If you put it out on the radio it’ll be on youtube the next day and that would be the end of it. You want the fans to be able to get it in a way that’s more special than just looking at it on youtube – to give them something nice to keep.” He looks slightly wistful for a moment and adds, “But maybe people aren’t bothered with that anymore – they just want everything virtual.”
Look out for more from our chat with Noel next week, when he’ll be talking about his art book, his new TV show, the Boosh…and everything else in between!