Lee & Herring Press


Dear Lee & Herring fan,
As you may know we like to reply to all our fan mail and e-mails personally.
We think this is important if you've taken the time to write to us and because at the end of the day you pay our wages.
Also you as a body are the only people we can really trust to let us know how we are doing, whether we've sold out, if we're doing OK, etc.
Unfortunately these days, we are getting upwards of 50 letters a day and 20 or so e-mails, and to reply to everyone in the depth they write to us, as well as writing new comedy ideas, would be impossible. So we hope you don't mind that along with a short and specific personal reply we have also enclosed this factsheet which answers some of the more often asked questions, giving us time to deal with other enquiries in more depth.
It is unproductive for us to reply for example to criticisms that you've heard TV material on the radio 15 times a day, because there are several reasons why we have done this (see below). Apologies if you receive more than one copy of this. If you've written more than once we might reply to your letters individually. With so many of you sometimes it's hard to keep track of who you've already replied to. Pass any spare copies on to a friend.
Anyway, enough of our yakkin'. Sit back, relax and enjoy the first Lee & Herring Factsheet 1 (There probably won't be more than one, but just in case).


Birthday - 5th April 1968
Hometown - Solihull in the West Midlands
Educated - Solihull School, St Edmund Hall, Oxford
Stewart Lee Collects - Passport Photos, Unusual objects, Records, Crucifixes from around the world

Awards - Hackney Empire New Act of the Year 1990

Previous Jobs - Paper Boy (got sacked for being too old at 15), Doctors' receptionist, Quality Control in an Orange Juice Factory, Data Input, Researcher into the history of Gardening
Stuff I've done without Rich - Stand-up. My first love.
I still do loads of gigs and have done new hours in Edinburgh the last two years, although its harder to keep everything going now. I did three gigs with a band once but I gave it up to concentrate on all this stuff. I'd like to make a Country and Western album in Spain under a false name.
I'm doing lots of bits of journalisty stuff these days too - Guardian, National student Extra, Vox, Blah Blah Blah, Sunday Times, Observer - and hope to be a writer when I grow up. I'm working on a pilot of a show called Cluub Zarathustra with some other people for Channel 4.


Birthday 12th July 1967
Hometown - Cheddar in Somerset
Educated - The Kings of Wessex Upper School, Cheddar and St Catherine's College Oxford
Collects - Kinder Egg Toys, Videos

Awards - The Kings of Wessex Ex Pupil of the Year Award 1995 and Gamesmaster Golden Joystick.

Previous Jobs - Picking mushrooms at Axbridge Mushroom Far (since closed down) in 1985 for 3 weeks... Cave Guide at Cheddar Caves 1986 and 1987...Barman in the Prince of Wales pub in Oxford 1989... Office work at Pharos Marine in Brentford - (they made parts for lighthouses and that is true) five weeks in 1989... Compiling the phone book for West London in Ealing (I changed Stewart Lee's name to Stewart Wee -true) four weeks 1989... Advertising Sales for Caversham Press, selling advertising space in a brochure aimed at British companies looking to invest in the Russian market. No sales. Sacked Christmas Eve 1989...
Since then I've been working as a comedian, although I did write for Macmillan's Encyclopedia of the Royal Family. I was uncredited for my work.

Stuff I've done without Stewart - I did stand up for about three years 1989-92, and did OK. I played most of the big clubs and did some good gigs and some very bad ones. I never really got established and eventually gave up doing clubs in favour of radio work and hour long Edinburgh shows. These have been 1993 - "Ra-Ra-Rasputin" a musical combining Russian history with the Boney M back catalogue. Sally Phillips (FOF spam girl) , Andrew Mackay (FOF pie man), Ben Moor (FOF fishmonger) and Clare DeVries were in this one. 1994 "Richard Herring is Fat" - an expose on how I'd put on two stone since the last Edinburgh.
Sally Phillips and Kevin Eldon (FOF the talented one) were in this one "This Morning with Richard Not Judy" - a morning chat show, where tickets were auctioned, money and a car was given away and the Fringe's top names came in to chat about the news.
Stew and Peter were in this almost every day and due to there being no advertising this is the only show we've ever done in Edinburgh that actually made money. 1995 "Richard Herring Is All Man" - a bleak look at my troubled life as a man, including the village of the married sketch and a nightmare vision of the ghost of the beard I never had. Sally Phillips and Tom Binns ( He's been in Fist of Fun but usually gets cut out. He's the one whose penis is visible in York City are Magic) were in this one.

Over the course of Edinburghs I have lost several thousands of pounds, but hey I've made some good friends! I'm currently working on a sit-com called "Sex Amongst the Stalagmites" (provisionally) which is about Cheddar caves and sex. I was meant to have finished this last year, but didn't get time. I also provided the voice of a spider for Channel 4's Schools TV in 1993, but the tape "went wrong" and I was not asked to come in and do it again, someone else did. I appeared in show 4 of the terrible BBC2 topical comedy show "Loose Talk" in 1994. I do not believe that there is another series of "Loose Talk" in the pipeline.
I occasionally write for newspapers etc, but not very often as I do not want to end up like a vain and self obsessed journalist like Tony Parsons or Stewart Lee. (Only joking Stew)


Rich and Stew met properly for the first time at a Christmas party at Oxford University in December 1986 (although they had met briefly in a corridor and Rich had seen Stew through the window of a Kentucky Fried Chicken shop, but Stew did not see him watching)
The party was held by the Oxford Comedy Cellar which put on a show every fortnight in a cellar.
They had both performed during the term, but never in the same show. Stewart had done some stuff about fruit being used in an unusual way.
Rich had done a ventriloquist song called "My penis can sing".
At the party Rich was dancing to the Sex Pistols on his own and Stew thought he'd probably be OK and liked the sound of the singing penis (the twat) and suggested working together on some stuff. The next term they began performing sketches with some other people in a team called hilariously"The Seven Raymonds" even though there were only six of them and none of them were called Raymond!!!!
This team took a show to Edinburgh in 1987 called hilariously "The Potassium Permanganate Extravaganza" and performed in Oxford for the next two to three years. It was during this time that the original "Jesus Behind You" Sketch was first performed. So if you want to complain about us doing old stuff, how's about that? Rich and Stew wrote (and Rich was in) the 1988 Oxford Revue "Waving at the Pigeons" which toured the country to mixed reviews and was sabotaged in Edinburgh by mad actor Keith Allen who had a fight with the theatre manager who is now a teacher and tried to kill Ben Moor.
Allen also slagged it off on telly and Rich appeared on Edinburgh nights and was harangued for being a posh public school twat (only the twat part was correct).
But he was good in Martin Chuzzlewhit. The Revue was also asked to perform at the Gilded Balloon Club, but this was a set up and all the circuit comedians turned up to heckle the rich public school twats. Ironically we were still happy to do it as we got paid 10 each and came back the next week too.
Stew wrote and directed the 1989 Oxford Revue which got even worse reviews but wasn't any worse in actuality. In 1989 we came to London to see if we could cut it professionally. We both tried to do stand up. Stew was very successful, getting booked almost everywhere and quite quickly winning the new act of the year award.
Rich did OK, and got booked at about half the venues, but gave it up after about 2 years to concentrate on the radio work (ie he was shit at stand up). We also started writing for Weekending, a radio 4 satire show, which we both disliked, but which actually gave us invaluable experience and the chance to have our work assessed by actual BBC producers. So we found that the best way into comedy was a twin assault on stand-up and radio, but that was back in 1989, things may have changed by now.

The London circuit is certainly more crowded than it was back then and we haven't listened to Weekending since we stopped writing for it in 1991. Other radio involvement: We wrote (with Armando Iannucci submitting gags) all 4 episodes of Radio 4's 11.30pm comedy show The End Of The Roadshow.
This starred Nick Hancock, Tony Hawkes, Neil Mullarkey and Rebecca Front (Ann Bryson was in one of them) and came from Universities around the land. (Newcastle, Glasgow, Bristol and Oxford).
It was in this show that we first used the format that was to become our usual Fist of Fun greeting... "I'm Nick Hancock". "I'm Neil Mullarkey" "And I am called Tony Hawkes". If you are a proper fan you will have liked what we wrote in this and think that everything we have ever done since is shit. You will be wrong to think that, but it makes you a proper fan.
There is not another series in the pipeline.
We wrote and performed in Lionel Nimrod's Inexplicable World. This ran to two series and featured Rebecca Front, Armando Iannucci and ex Dr Who Tom Baker. Peter Baynham also once appeared in it for nothing saying he loved spaghetti in a routine similar to Rod Hull's love of jelly.

We did an Edinburgh show of this series with Ronnie Ancona and Alaistair "Jarvis Cocker" McGowan.
There are no plans to do another series of this in the pipeline, but it might get put out on tape soon and we might do something like it on TV one of these days (if we haven't used up all the material in Fist of Fun - York City are Magic, the vampires, the milkman of the apocolypse, Paul Daniels, University of Life, and many many of the lines in our show first appeared on LNIW) We wrote for the award winning On the Hour. We wrote about a third of the first series. Armando Iannucci, Chris Morris, David Quantick, Steven Wells and Andrew Glover also wrote and the cast improvised around our ideas, making it very hard to determine who wrote what exactly.
We wrote most of the early Partridge material, most of Green Desk, most of the serial murders stuff, all of the vicar character and things like the Weekending piss take and most of the stuff that mentioned Lionel Cosgrave (the name of Rich's boss in his last proper job, who was incredibly abrasive and rude and who sacked Rich after three weeks) In the second series we wrote less as we were writing Nimrod at the same time.

Patrick Marber started to write stuff at this point and it was a bit of a joke amongst the writers as he didn't seem very good at the time. But have any of the others of us written award winning plays. No. There are no more On the Hour shows in the pipeline.
Due to us wanting to retain copyright over things we'd written we fell out with the OTH gang. When the series went out on BBC Enterprises tape they re-edited sentences to change the names of characters we'd made up, and cut out all of our stuff, which was the best stuff in it anyway as anyone will tell you.
If you have old tapes you made of OTH off the radio why not try having fun seeing how a sentence like "Lionel Cosgrave of Glossop" is changed to "Lionel crrrrrrrk Glossop". It is fun. (They didn't manage to edit all our stuff off as it happens)
We did not end up writing for The Day Today because we fell out with Armando (or rather our manager did) over how much credit we should be given for creating characters and ideas. We did not want the performers to be able to take characters we'd created and do other stuff with them without us being credited. Which they did anyway. We were not given enough guarantees, nor enough money, so we pulled out of the most successful TV comedy series of the early 90s, and to be honest we are glad we did. We knew it would be a success anyway as it had a fantastic team working on it, but this freed us up to work on our own projects.
Being a writer is a lousy job. You do a lot of the work and get none of the credit.

We are still good friends with everyone involved apart from Patrick who seemed delighted that we had been ousted when everyone else was sympathetic, as it gave him more control over the project.
Lionel Nimrod was partially repeated on Radio 1 and then we were asked to come up with a show especially for Radio 1. This was Fist of Fun, the first series of which was in half hour format and recorded in front of an audience.
Our producer, Sarah Smith, had worked with Peter Baynham on Radio 4's The Harpoon and suggested he do his new dirty and disgusting character, Peter Baynham, on the show (after we went on TV we called him Peter, so as not to confuse him with the popular late night besuited satirist from Saturday Night Armistice) .
Rebecca appeared when possible, as did Ronnie, Alistair and John Thompson.
We recorded most of the shows at Universities around the country and when we were going to Exeter we couldn't find any actors who were prepared to come all that way for a hundred quid (the vain creatures).
Stew mentioned this to Kevin Eldon who we had met on the stand up circuit and Kev, who was quite poverty stricken at this stage (as indeed we all were) jumped at the chance.

Slowly but surely he wheedled his way into the team. After this series Radio 1 decided they didn't want anymore half hour shows and wanted pop music in all their shows and so we moved on to an hour long slot which we called Lee and Herring because our producer did not want to confuse the TV people by having a radio project that was slightly different, but with the same name.
We've done three series of this and hope to do another later this year, if we get time. We love doing the radio show as it is quite informal and much less hard work than the TV, but you are all wrong. The TV show is actually better. The radio show is really live (unlike most of the comedy radio 1 shows and quite a lot of the music shows too) although we pre record sketches and some of the more complicated links.
In 1993 the TV blokes decided to give us a pilot show of Fist of Fun which we recorded in May 1994 After some deliberation they gave us a series in Spring 1995 and then after some deliberation they gave us a second series for Feb 96 (though they only decided this in late November so we didn't get long to write it.
We are waiting to hear if there is another series of Fist of Fun in the pipeline.
When we were jobbing writers in the early nineties we also wrote gags for the Barrymore pilot (which Barrymore really liked as they were taking the piss a bit, but all his court of advisors and hangers on dissuaded him from using any of it. He was a really good bloke though and very funny when left to his own devices, ad libbing). We wrote some sketches for BBC TV Schools TV about looking for work.
We wrote topical monologues for Tracey Macleod on Channel 4's "A Stab in the Dark" which was a terrible show which we were drafted in to try and improve. But we failed to. There is not another series of this in the pipeline.
We've also written stuff for Spitting Image. There is not another series of this in the pipeline.

Source - Rich & Stew