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Page last updated at 07:24 GMT, Saturday, 31 December 2011
Guest editor: Stewart Lee

Stewart Lee

Every year the Today programme hands over the editorship to leading public figures in the week between Christmas and New Year. Editing the programme on New Year's Eve is the comedian Stewart Lee.

His programme looked into mythical narratives, selling-out and super-size comedy.


Hearing a piece of music he loves used as a marketing tool is not to guest editor Stewart Lee's liking.

But he wonders whether time when an artist could afford to spurn the lucre of the advertising man is well and truly over. Do fans expect that the bands they invest in won't allow that investment to be devalued?

He asked Colin Paterson to investigate.

The birth of instant, online consumer appraisals of everything from live shows to music, books, hotels and restaurants has transformed the review process.

While the professional critic is still alive and kicking, the clout of the user generated review is undeniable.

Stewart Lee, who often uses some of his worst reviews in his publicity material, debates whether professional reviewers still have anything to give with Kate Copstick, chief comedy reviewer for The Scotsman who is a regular judge at the Edinburgh Fringe and Matt Trueman, a theatre blogger and critic who writes the Guardian's Noises Off round-up of theatre blogs.

Stewart Lee wanted his programme to feature an interview with one of his favourite musicians, the front man of band The Fall Mark E Smith.

He spoke to the singer about punk, Manchester and Top of the Pops.

Stewart Lee is intrigued by how certain narratives - such as the nativity - can provide solace even for those who do not believe them to be true.

He spoke to writer AS Byatt about her novel Ragnarok, a book which retells the Norse myths she was obsessed with as a child.

Guest editor Stewart Lee wasn't keen to suggest a guest for our Thought for the Day slot, but instead asked writer Alan Moore to provide an alternative Thought for the Day for his programme.

As a live performer our guest editor Stewart Lee finds the intimacy of a small venue is crucial to his art form and his success as a comedian.

He discusses big venue comedy with Tim Minchin, who seeks both "grandeur and intimacy" by performing at venues such as the Royal Albert Hall, and cult performer and small venue fan Billy Childish.

It is now commonplace in the run up to Christmas to read news reports about the threats posed to the religious festivities by politically correct councils or organisations looking to cancel Christmas.

The accuracy of such reports is frequently questioned, but what if you really did want to cancel Christmas? How would you go about it?

Stewart Lee was keen to hear from the avant-garde trombone player Alan Tomlinson, a musician who has in the past improvised a duet with the River Seven in Yorkshire - he was standing in the river at the time.


Oxford-educated Stewart Lee first made his mark as one half if a comedy double-act with Richard Lee on BBC television programmes Fist of Fun and This Morning With Richard Not Judy.

As well as a performer, Lee penned the controversial Jerry Springer: The Opera, which saw protests by groups claiming it was blasphemous.

Most recently his TV series Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle brought him two prizes at the 2011 British Comedy Awards.

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