On my radar: Richard Osman’s cultural highlights

The gameshow maestro and bestselling novelist on AJ Tracey’s rhymes, the newfound joys of Radio 3, and longing for the return of live comedy

Richard Osman was born in 1970 and grew up in Haywards Heath, West Sussex. He started his career as an executive producer on TV shows such as Deal Or No Deal and 8 Out of 10 Cats. He pitched the gameshow Pointless to the BBC in 2009 and has now been the show’s cohost for 12 years, alongside his university friend Alexander Armstrong. Last year Osman’s novel The Thursday Murder Club (Penguin) became the first debut to take the Christmas No 1 slot in the UK books charts. It has now sold more than 1m copies and Steven Spielberg has bought the film rights. This week, Osman was named Author of the Year at the British Book Awards and his book came out in paperback.

1. Album

Flu Game by AJ Tracey

Watch the video for Little More Love by AJ Tracey.

Tracey is a great rapper, a great writer, and he puts big melodic hooks in all of his songs. I love a big hook, and this new album is just absolutely full of them. There are five or six tracks that you cannot get out of your head after the first listen. The grime and rap coming out of Britain at the moment is extraordinary. To people who say there’s nothing like punk these days, I say you haven’t listened to grime. It’s the music of energy and disaffection.

2. Film

Palm Springs (Max Barbakow, 2020)

Cristin Milioti and Andy Samberg in Palm Springs.
Cristin Milioti and Andy Samberg in Palm Springs. Photograph: Alamy

This film by the Lonely Island comedy trio Akiva Schaffer, Andy Samberg and Jorma Taccone is a very smart riff on Groundhog Day. It looks at what would actually happen if you lived the same day again and again, the lessons you’d learn about life and love. Whatever concerns you have about the limitations of how you live, you will see reflected in this. I love everything the Lonely Island do. Jack Sparrow, their Michael Bolton collaboration, is the funniest two minutes of comedy ever created.

3. Radio

Unclassified (BBC Radio 3)

Unclassified presenter Elizabeth Alker.
Unclassified presenter Elizabeth Alker. Photograph: BBC

I’ve never got into classical music and I’ve always wanted to, because I’m aware there’s, like, loads of it. I’ve got a lifetime of joy ahead of me when I finally appreciate it. Presenter Elizabeth Alker does a Radio 3 show called Unclassified, on Thursday evenings, featuring experimental and electronic music. I love it so much that occasionally I let the radio play on afterwards and listen. So classical music might be creeping into my life. That’s what BBC radio should be doing – subtly bringing you these unknown worlds.

Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers

4. Book

Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers

I spent last year travelling around independent bookshops, and I asked for recommendations everywhere I went. I think it was Village Books in Dulwich that gave me a copy of the novel Small Pleasures. I’m a huge fan of Barbara Pym and Muriel Spark, and this felt like the kind of book they’d be writing if they were still around. It’s about a female journalist in the 1950s and how her life is changed by the people she meets. I thought it was a wonderful book, very sad and funny.

5. Documentary

The Defiant Ones (Allen Hughes, 2021)

Watch a trailer for The Defiant Ones.

I just adored this Netflix documentary about music producers Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine. It’s the incredible story of two working-class guys who grew up on different coasts of America and go from zero to a billion through creativity and hard work. They’re both producers rather than artists. That speaks to me, because that’s what I am. At one point Bono says of Iovine: “When he gets his claws into you, he wants to make both of you succeed.” To me, that is the role of a producer. It’s a wonderful story about how collaboration can bring unimaginable success.

6. Comedy

Katherine Ryan tour

Katherine Ryan.
Katherine Ryan. Photograph: Brian J Ritchie/Hotsauce/REX/Shutterstock

Live comedy is the thing I’ve missed most this past year. I’m incredibly excited that Edinburgh is sort-of taking place again – in a controlled way – and that young comics are starting to put dates in the diary. I’m going to pick out Katherine Ryan’s tour, just because we see her on telly so much these days that people think of her as a TV personality and presenter. Go and watch her on stage to realise what an amazing standup she is. But do book tickets to anything you can. Support your local comedy club. Support young comics.


Alice Fisher

The GuardianTramp

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