FROM THE ARCHIVES: Dr Hans Battenberg & Schnepps (20/1/09)

Welcome back to From The Archives, where we trawl through my work on Radio Warwick and bring you the best bits of my student writings. And this week, we have something very special.
While it's fair to say that I'm proud in some small way of all The Yesterday Show episodes, this week's instalment is my out-and-out favourite. It was the most fun to write, the most fun to record, got the best reaction from our audience, and involves one of the best characters I've ever had a hand in creating. I speak of Dr. Hans Battenberg, the mad scientist from Ascheberg, accompanied by his faithful assistant Schnepps.
Dr Hans Battenberg is one of three voices that I honed over the Christmas holidays in Northumberland - the others being Dylan Morgan and Richard Straker, whom you'll hear next week. He is essentially my impression of Peter Sellers playing the title character in Stanley Kubrick's seminal black comedy Dr. Strangelove. Specifically, there's a moment towards the end of the film where Strangelove is laying out his plans for a new Aryan society living down the deepest mineshafts in America, involving the line: "Animals could be reared and SLAUGHTERED!". I loved the idea of a character who was refined and respectable on the outside, but with manic or insane tendencies bursting to the surface. I wondered how it would be to change the emphases for comic effect, and Tom and I worked out the rest.
As I mentioned a couple of months ago, Tom and I are huge fans of The Goon Show. Whether consciously or not (I honestly can't remember), this was the closest we came to the pure giddy absurdity that The Goons represented, throwing in a lot of surreal curveballs for the audience. The icing on the cake was Schnepps, created as a sidekick character for Tom to voice and serving as the downbeaten Igor to Battenberg's Dr. Frankenstein. I don't know where the cupboard joke came from (I couldn't tell you where a lot of the jokes came from), but for the record we recorded his lines in a real cupboard. It took a long time to get this episode recorded since Tom and I were laughing so much we literally fell about.
The other thing to sat about this episode is the return of Alex. As I stated last week, his absence was always intended to be temporary, and so it was simply a case of finding a good way of getting rid of Barry. Having teased things up, we went with the inauguration of Barack Obama (like everybody else) and gave Alex a chance to be the professional for once. Alex is brilliant in this episode, demonstrating both the character's value and his shortcomings, all though impeccable deadpan.
You'll be seeing a lot more of Dr. Hans Battenberg, both in this series and afterwards, but for now enjoy the very first appearance of him and Schnepps, involving squirrels, pheasants, four fur coats and something called the Di-Hydrogen Accelerator...

P.S. The fanart of Dr. Hans Battenberg was drawn by Tom's girlfriend, Lingyu Zhuang. You'll be seeing more of that as well :)