Friday, 31 March 2017

Radio Review: 31 March

Comedy and tragedy in a documentary double

Written by Louis Barfe
While Radio 2 hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory of late, with the way it’s treated Brian Matthew, Janice Long and Alex Lester, the station deserves some credit for its recentLouis-Barfe-colour-176 Comedy showcase series of pilots.

The standout of the run was Harry and Paul Present: The Gentlemen’s Club (available on iPlayer), a spoof documentary by Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse about a day in the life of ‘Wibbles’, a crèche for buffers. Aided superbly by Jim Broadbent, Tom Hollander, the glorious Amelia Bullmore and Jason Lewis, Harry and Paul introduced us to numerous old dodderers who think Mumford & Sons are wine merchants.

The running joke about the old boy played by Whitehouse injuring himself repeatedly and grievously while ‘having a fag’ built splendidly. Meanwhile, the scene in which the club’s attitude to women was addressed was gloriously pointed. One chap dines at the club with his wife every week, but only in the lower dining room; women aren’t allowed upstairs. Before they married, she wasn’t allowed in at all, and had to make do with Pret à Manger while he dined alone.

A great script and a stellar cast. If Harry and Paul Present doesn’t get picked up for a series in which they explore other great British institutions, I’ll be surprised and disappointed. Meanwhile, Second Side Up – A life Captured in Radio (R3 – Saturday 1 April, 9.30pm) is funny in a melancholy sort of way. It’s the story of amateur DJ Mark Talbot, who made radio shows on cassette for family and friends for over 40 years, but never got the big break. Indeed, he cocked up his Radio 1 audition spectacularly. I’m still not sure if it’s a genuine documentary or a piece of April Fool’s day performance art. Maybe it’s best that I never know.

Louis on Twitter: @LFBarfe or email: 

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