High-profile radio and television broadcaster Annie Nightingale, 82, has opened up about her late pal John Lennon’s love of comedy. She described the Beatles star as an “entertaining” joke teller as she reflected on their friendship.
The presenter’s new BBC Radio 4 programme, Annie Nightingale’s Age of Irreverence, explores the relationship between comedy and pop music.
The show examines these feelings of irreverence in the Goons, the Beatles, Monty Python and other pop culture phenomena.
Annie revealed how she believed the satire boom leads back to 1950s series The Goon Show, from the minds of Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe and Michael Bentine.
“As a child I loved its anarchy and weirdness,” she remembered. “It wasn’t mother-in-law jokes and conventional British humour of the time.
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“They were very uncompromising: if you get it, you get it; if you don’t, you don’t.
“What I didn’t realise as a little kid was that there was a whole generation of us listening who were going to be affected by it. For example, four lads in Liverpool…”
As it turns out, the Beatles were huge Goons fans – particularly John, whom Annie was once friends with.
“John said he would rather have been a comedian than a Beatle,” Annie said in her interview with Radio Times.
He also appeared twice in the BBC British sketch comedy show Not Only… But Also, with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.
Annie was the first female presenter on BBC Radio 1 in 1970, and is the radio station’s longest-serving presenter.
John was one of the world’s most famous musicians, playing in The Beatles beside bandmates Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr between 1960 and 1970.
A decade after the band broke up and enjoyed successful solo careers, John was murdered on December 8, 1980 outside his apartment building in New York City.
He is best remembered for hit songs including 1971’s Imagine, 1967’s Strawberry Fields Forever and 1965’s Norwegian Wood.
As well as being a famous singer, songwriter and musician, John also leaves behind a legacy as a peace activist.
Annie Nightingale’s Age of Irreverence airs at 8pm on Saturday, January 7 on BBC Radio 4.
Read Annie Nightingale’s full interview in the latest issue of Radio Times.