Heresy: an appeal
Sunday, 1 February 2009
[midnight, February 3rd: the response to this was so brilliant, the competition below is now closed!]
In March, we’re going to make a new series of Heresy, a show I did last year on Radio 4. I wasn’t sure whether to do another series, because it’s filmed in front of a live audience and I find that TERRIFYING. Especially since it’s sort of a comedy show and I’m not a comedian. It’s weirdly stressful, trying to think of funny things to say (in advance and during), when there are a hundred people sitting there who might just stare back in baffled silence. Much easier to write for newspapers: if you make a joke that isn’t funny, at least you’re not there to hear the pin drop.
Then again, I love Radio 4. My dad loved Radio 4. I’m very proud of hosting a show on there. So I’ve said yes, and now I can start having sleepless nights until March, and nervous days trying to think of topics for the show. SO, I’M ASKING FOR HELP.
The idea of the series is, each week, we take three different “received opinions” - statements of majority opinion. And then we argue against them. They’ve got to be statements that the majority of people would immediately agree with, making it a tricky challenge to persuade them otherwise. The ideal statements are ones that people believe without even thinking about it, just take for granted without much thought. Could be about politics, culture, love, lifestyle, anything. Statements on the last series included:
There are too many repeats on TV
Travel broadens the mind
We are safer in Britain for having gun control
The Queen is marvellous but the other royals are a waste of space
Daniel Day Lewis is a better actor than Christopher Biggins
Short men look silly with tall wives.
You know - stuff that most people believe. Or that most people would agree with, if you asked them. It can’t be subjects where there are two broad and opposite opinions (like “You shouldn’t wear fur” or “There is no God”). It can’t get a 50/50 “yes/no” response from the average audience - it would need to be about 80% agreement or higher, to be the right sort of thing. And obviously it can’t be something really extreme, like “Child abuse is a bad thing”, that it would be IMPOSSIBLE to argue against. It needs to be hard, but not impossible.
So, if anybody has any ideas for topics like this, for other received opinions that are widely held (or would be, if people asked themselves the question), please post them on here! I’d be so grateful…. within a couple of weeks, I’ll need to have come up with 18 of them…
Should there be a prize for the best one? There probably should. If you post a Heresy idea (or, ideally, five) include a note about what sort of prize you would like if you had the best idea - value no more than £100. This is radio. Any more than that, and I’d have done the whole fee.