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Showcasing comedy writing talent on BBC Radio Ulster

BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Sounds are launching a series of pilots showcasing comedy writing talent.

In the first of three pilots in the series, Johnny Tombola: Out Now! is mockumentary about Johnny Tombola, Northern Ireland’s premier club entertainer, returning to the stage after 30 years.

Tombola rose to local stardom in the late ’70s during the height of the Showband era.

He was originally hired to warm up tough audiences with mother-in-law jokes, but he slowly became the headliner, combining powerful ballads with jokes and stories.

Johnny got caught up in a wee conspiracy in the ’90s that resulted in him getting a couple of years in prison, but due to an administrative error, he was kept in for 30 years.

We’re following Johnny on his come-back trail. Apart from a violent prison injury that damaged his vocal chords, Johnny hasn’t changed at all since his conviction, but Belfast has.

Johnny never forgot the fans. Did they forget him?

Can Johnny rise to the top in a modern Belfast and once again be the talk of the town? Did Johnny’s wife Mavis wait for him? Spoiler alert: She didn’t.

n Johnny Tombola: Out Now! is written by Alan Irwin, and stars Alan Irwin, Teresa Livingstone, William Thompson and Caroline Curran. It has been produced by Marc McElroy. It begins at 12.30pm, BBC Radio Ulster, Saturday.

Airing just half-an-hour earlier on BBC Radio Ulster is Storytellers: Ratlines.

It’s 1963, and on the eve of JFK’s state visit to Ireland a number of German nationals are found murdered in remote locations.

That these men were Nazis, granted asylum after the war, is a fact that Irish Justice Minister CJ Haughey is determined will remain secret.

n Storytellers: Ratlines is read by Patrick Fitzsymons, and is a five-part fictional series starting at noon.

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