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In the second of our monthly bonus episodes, courtesy of our fantastic fans on Patreon, we revisit a former winner of an episode: Theophilus Marzials, our World's Worst Poet. Barry recites some of his poetry including the legendary 'A Tragedy' (plop!) as well as some of the critical reaction at the time, we hear of his shenanigans in the British Museum and we also learn about his alma mater's other famous alumni.

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Aidan goatley - world’s worst tattoo

Bite down hard and prepare to feel some unusual pain as we inflict the world's worst tattoos on you. Joined by the charming stand-up comic Aidan Goatley we return to the terrifying world of Russian prisons, uncover some creepy Cold War secret, Japanese pelts, the mysterious Edith and why early 20th century royalty were absolutely covered in ink.

Show Notes:

1. Yakuza tattoos and their meaning

2. Picture of Barnet Burns and his story

3. Russian prison tattoos

4. Tattoo collectors - about Dr. Masaichi Fukushi, who owns over 3000 pelts, The Wellcome Collection and others

5. The story of human bloodbanks during the Cold War

6. Tattoos in the Victorian era, including royalty

7. TATTOOED ROYALTY. Queer Stories of a Queer Craze
by R. J. Stephen -The Harmsworth Monthly Pictorial Magazine - Vol 1. 1898

8. Sutherland MacDonald

9. Tattoos and crimonology - Cesare Lombroso


Abigail Burdess - World's worst dance

One two three, step two three, one two three, I’m so sorry, I’ve crushed your toes. Swing your partners round and round this week, it’s time for us to chassis our way into the World’s Worst Dance. Grabbing us round the waist and clinging on for dear life is our guest, the comedian, writer and actress Abigail Burdess, who has a few choice words for Morris dancers everywhere. Meanwhile, Ben takes us to the early days of modern dance with a look at Stravinksy’s ‘Rite of Spring’ as choreographed by a horse, and Barry diagnoses dancing plagues and broken penises.

Photo by Kevin Murphy

Show Notes:

1. Article and videos all about ‘Daggering’

2. Article on the Holocaust ice dance routine - it’s the wife of Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, not sure we mentioned that madness!

3. The Native American Ghost Dance

4. Dancing Mania

5. BBC article about William Kempe dancing from London to Norwich

Photo by Daniel Bye

daniel bye - world's worst political theatre

We're endeavouring to look Very Serious Indeed as we grapple with thorny topic of political theatre. We're joined by director, actor and theatre-maker Daniel Bye who gets stuck into an episode packed full of history, literature, one-upmanship, shouting at people in crates, Elizabethan coups and an awful lot of codfish and rhubarb spoken about Shakespeare.

Photo by Daniel Bye

Show Notes

1. More on the Earl of Essex’s use of Richard II to inspire a rebellion

2. More on the Astor House Riot

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dan simpson - world’s worst poet

Sleep well, dear listeners, and sweet nightmares to you all as Ben and Barry, in the company of poet Dan Simpson, hasten you to slumber with the World's Worst Lullaby. We truly travel the globe in this one, with contributions from Iceland, Haiti, Brazil and Indonesia, essays from Lorca and compositions from Brahms, and Dan introduces us to a particularly horrifying cover of an already horrifying song.


Molly ker hawn - world’s worst fictional child

In this episode we line up some of the stickiest, naughtiest, most badly behaved and obnoxiously prodigious children ever created by authors and line them up for six of the best. We're joined by literary agent Molly Ker Hawn, someone who is steeped in children's literature as National Programs Director at the Children’s Book Council and a past board member of the United States Board on Books for Young People. Like all good agents she knows what she likes and doesn't hold back when she finds something that doesn't cut the mustard. We end up talking about Belgian newspapers, Roman foundational myths, Roald Dahl's offcuts and an audacious wartime fraud.

Show Notes:

1. More on The Adventures of Nero and Adhemar

2. Characters that didn't make Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

3. Struwwelpeter

4. More about ‘Misha: A Memoir of the Holocaust Years’


Tristan Bernays - world's worst sex scene

Stick on some mood music, dim the lights, burn some incense and relax as we lather on the baby-oil in the company of playwright Tristan Bernays. This orgy of awful is all about the World's Worst Sex Scene and there are some - literal - bangers in here for you. There are appearances by the Marquis de Sade and Morrissey, we take a trip to the brothels of Pompeii and we discover that men will have sex with literally anything - even picnic tables. Genuinely, if you are a bit squeamish, there are some very rude bits in the show. However, if you like that sort of thing, then lay back and let rip!

Photo from Twitter

Show Notes:

1. Rude graffiti from Pompeii and Herculaneum

2. Takedown no.1 of Morrisey’s novel

3. Takedown no.2 of Morrisey’s novel

4. Takedown no.3 of Morrisey’s novel

5. Examples of nominees for the 2017 Bad Sex (in writing) Award

6. On the Marquis de Sade

7. The Turin Erotic Papyrus - the oldest known depiction of sex

8. The May-Irwin Kiss which inspired The Widow Jones

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Iszi lawrence - world's worst poet

Comic, podcast host and Brazilian jiu-jitsuist Iszi Lawrence shares doggerel and broken verse with us as she shares her own experience of living with tame poet A F Harold. We talk about the golden age of bad Victorian poets such as William McGonagall, cheese-obsessed James McIntyre and Theophilus Marzials, who held the word 'plop' in far too high regard.

Photo by Steve Cross

Show Notes:

1. A one-stop shop for all your William McGonnagal needs

2. Harry Potter wiki suggesting that McGonnagal is a relation of the House Master from J K Rowling’s books

3. A selection of James McIntyre’s cheese poetry

4. The full text of Theophilus Marzial’s terrible poem about death

5. More on Iszi’s Z List Dead List podcast

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Sam lebens - world's worst messiah

Rabbi, academic and philosopher Sam Lebens flew all the way over from Israel to debate the worst saviour in history. From amoral sheisters like Moses of Crete to randy Torah-marriers like Sabbatai Zevi, by way of Kevin Keegan and the Anabaptists, the list of people who promised much but delivered little is a long one.

Photo from University of Haifa

1. Why Kevin Keegan was the Geordie messiah

2. More on Moses of Crete

3. More on Sabbatai Zvei

4. More on the Anabaptists from Dan Carlin’s Hardcore Histories, the greatest history podcast out there

5. The philosophy article Sam wrote which earned him an Ig Nobel Prize nomination


richard soames - world's worst word

Actor, comedian, improviser and member of British sketch legends The Beta Males, Richard Soames helps us find the opposite of a bon mot. We sample some industrial-strength swearing, uncover the smuggest sounds in the universe and discover a shocking truth about the end of World War 2.

Photo by Nick Kay

Show Notes:

1. Ofcom’s official ranking of swear words by potency

2. The best swear words in every language

3. George' Carlin’s classic stand-up: Seven Words You Can’t Say On Television

4. More on the fatal misuse of words that may have lead to Hiroshima

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sarah bennetto - world's worst fairy tale

Comedian, master storyteller and starry-eyed force for happiness in the world Sarah Bennetto helped us unveil some of the most bloodthirsty, amoral and downright weird tales from the pages of the Brother's Grimm, Charles Perrault, Giambattista Basile and more.

Photo from Square Hole Comedy

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Archie Maddocks - World's Worst Playwight

Comedian, writer and Bruntwood Prize nominated playwright Archie Maddocks is unafraid to throw some punches in his chosen field. He doesn't pause in his takedown of Pinter, Ben gets personal and discovers that Steve Bannon was making awful decisions in the last century and Barry talks about some moose.

Photo by Tom Leishman

1. Incredulous NYT article about Steve Bannon’s Coriolanus re-write

2. A table read of ‘The Thing I Am’ - Bannon’s hip-hop Shakespeare re-write

3. An in-depth take down and history of ‘Moose Murders’

The Story Beast


Actor, improviser, comedian and 9th century bard, John Henry Falle is an absolute force of nature. He whirls onto this episode to share tales of Antaeus - the biggest bro in Greek mythology, some disgusting Japanese goblins and the US Air Force's unlikely unofficial mascot.

Show Notes:

1. The Oozlefinch badge

Photo by Steve Ullathorne