Friday, 25 September 2015

Radio Review: 24 September

This bookish new comedy is both rude and hilarious

Written by Louis Barfe
Louis-Barfe-colour-176I spend a lot of time in libraries, so ‘Shush!’, the new Radio 4 sitcom for bibliomanes, starring Rebecca Front and Morwenna Banks, seems aimed squarely at me and my ilk. Add the names Armando Iannucci, who cocreated the series with its stars, Arthur Mathews (Father Ted, Toast Of London), who co-writes it with them, and producer David Tyler (Cabin Pressure), and that’s quite a pedigree. How could all that go wrong? Answer: It doesn’t.

Quite a lot of Radio 4’s comedies should be disqualified under the Trade Descriptions Act, but this isn’t one of them. ‘Shush!’ is filthy, daft, and I love it. How filthy? Well, the first episode contains the establishment of a ‘rudery and nakedness’ section, and a frankly disgusting misunderstanding of Deaf Action Week, so there’s more than enough for 11.30am on a Friday.

Front plays Alice, the lovelorn library manager, a child prodigy who peaked too soon, and who is now scared of everything and everyone. Meanwhile, Banks is Snoo, described by a medical expert as ‘not the sharpest tool’. When a reader comes in asking for A Suitable Boy to take on holiday, Snoo thinks the punter’s using the library as a pick-up joint and packs her off.

The pair are tasked with ensuring that the library is too busy and well-run to be closed down (bit of politics, there), despite both being delightfully inept. The show is also a partial Radio Active reunion with Michael Fenton Stevens as a GP hell-bent on blackmailing his celebrity patients, and Philip Pope as a customer asking for the Wi-Fi password.

My only real criticism is that Alice saying ‘FY information’ a couple of times sounds a bit too much like trying to establish a catchphrase, but this is minor carping. This is a library in which laughter is permitted.

Louis on Twitter: @LF Barfe or email:

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