Noel Fielding: Radio Past and Future


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.'”

© Zimbio

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!

9 Comments on Noel Fielding: Radio Past and Future

  1. This fan would like it on youtube AND on something nice to keep. I discovered the Boosh on youtube and have ended up buying LOADS of stuff, everything new I can get my hands on. Don’t discount youtube as a way to push your product, Fielding!


  2. I always want something nice to keep! I hacked my brand new DVD player years ago so I could buy Boosh DVD’s from the UK and be able to watch them. I wasn’t going to wait and hope for “someday, maybe” they might come to the US. I’m sure my mailman must wonder why I buy so much stuff from England 😀


  3. ZoeClementine // November 4, 2011 at 2:55 am // Reply

    Something to keep would be amazing, like a CD. As Noel said when the series is released online it can get a bit boring & not feel as special as having something your hot little hands 🙂 I’m sure the guys will come up with something great x


  4. Sadly I think everyone does just want everything virtual these days. Virtual media is definitely convenient and valid but it can also really devalue things. Anyone who’s not experienced the anticipation and excitement of waiting for a set of photos to be developed, or ferreting through a dozen second hand record shops to find the recording you’re after is really missing out.

    “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.”
    That makes me really happy.

    If they put this thing out on cassette it would actually make my year.


  5. all this booshy talk! I have a proper pineing for it! I have no option im going to have to go back to the beginning & listen/watch EVERYTHING again! It never fails to raise a smile! Of course if this is released in ‘keepable’ format im there! Hope it does!


  6. I’d love to have it on casettes- it would give me a reason to use my walkman again. And that would be great.


  7. It’s so lovely to hear Noel’s thoughts on the radio show, and the way the lack of visuals sort of paradoxically allowed the Boosh and their listeners to conjure up in their mind tanks things much more fantastical than any set or special effect could convey. I love that about the radio show, because the only limit to the wonderful imagery is your imagination, and theirs. It’s magical.

    Really excited about the project with Richard Ayoade and Chris Morris, too. I’m looking forward to hearing it, but I’m also really happy to hear that the experience itself has been so fulfilling for them, and you can count me in as one of those fans who’s willing to wait for something special, instead of just a quick release and YouTube-ization. One of the things that I really admire about Noel (and Dave, and Julian, and everybody related to the Boosh in one way or another) is that desire to go far beyond and give the fans “something nice to keep.” It really shows in the quality of everything he touches. I can’t speak for everybody, but as a fan, I really appreciate that extra effort, and I treasure the things that are produced.


  8. Great interview! Really looking forward to hearing the the results of the Fielding/Morris/Ayoade collaboration. 🙂


  9. I have a sinking feeling that this will be mediocre. Especially in ten minute increments.


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