01 November 2015


Nebulous is a science fiction radio comedy which was first broadcast in 2005. There are currently three series, the first of which is available on CD from BBC Audio.

The comedy of Nebulous is mainly parody and clever wordplay, although the series does feature recurring jokes and numerous catchphrases. It clearly pays homage to Doctor Who, right from the first bars of the swirling, retro-electronic theme tune, but there are hints of Professor Quatermass in there. I'm even told it bears elements in common with Doomwatch, though I'm unfamiliar with the programme and so usually shrug and say 'Oh, really?'. Which is a shame, because Wikipedia says Doomwatch 'dealt with a scientific government agency led by Doctor Spencer Quist, responsible for investigating and combating various ecological and technological dangers'.

The world of Nebulous is on a post-apocalyptic Earth, in 2099 after 'the Withering'. During the Withering, much of human knowledge was destroyed, and a dreadful cattle-clasm destroyed almost all livestock. The Earth's geography has been altered, and there is a new season called Hamble - permanently dark, cold and drizzly. Information pieced together since the Withering is distorted - the knowledge of the vacuum cleaner has been lost forever, and children's television programme Bod is now worshipped as the creator of the universe, along with three other mistakenly-identified gods.

To cope with this trauma, K.E.N.T. (the Key Environmental Non-Judgemental Taskforce) was formed, its goal to ensure natural balance and harmony on Earth. They're not very good at it, yet every episode manage to come out on top. Tragically underfunded, K.E.N.T. are forced to supplement their economy with laundry services.

I could ramble on like this forever, so lets just put it this way: Did you like Red Dwarf, but wouldn't have minded it being a little less childish and a bit more intelligent? Did you enjoy Hitchhikers but wouldn't have minded it being a little less meaning-of-life and a bit more childish? Then here's Nebulous - it's bloody brilliant.

The programme is written by Graham Duff, who also stars as Rory Lawson. Professor Nebulous is none other than the simply divinely splendid Mark Gatiss, and there's Paul Putner and Rosie Cavaliero in there as Harry and Paula. Harry was disfigured in an awful accident while Nebulous tried to move the Isle Of Wight just a bit to the left, and Paula is as thick as two short planks and hopelessly in love with the professor. Graham Crowden is as sublimely dry as ever, and David Warner makes a most wonderfully sinister arch-nemesis Klench. There are even guest stars in series two and three - Peter Davidson, Steve Coogan, Kate O'Mara, Julia Davis and David Tennant.

Did I mention that it was bloody brilliant?

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