Friday, 01 April 2016

Radio Review: 1 April

Fifty years on, the charm of the Bonzos is undiminished

Written by Louis Barfe
Louis-Barfe-colour-176Perhaps surprisingly, I owe my ardent love of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band to former Radio 1 DJ and composer of the Ukip Calypso, Mike Read. One morning, 30-odd years ago, he played on his breakfast show The Intro And The Outro (‘Looking very relaxed, Adolf Hitler on vibes...’), and I was hooked instantly. I bought a Music for Pleasure ‘best of’ LP , and then the entire back catalogue.

So, naturally, I was all ears when Archive On 4 (Radio 4, Saturdays, 8pm) spent an hour in Bonzoland for Anarchy Must Be Organised, a special to mark 50 years since the band was formed by various London art-school eccentrics.

Producer Laura Baron found some delightful, obscure archive material, including the band’s first TV appearance, being introduced by John Noakes on Blue Peter; and the story of the band’s jazz parody, Delicious Hot, Disgusting Cold – the band simply swapped instruments and hoped for the best, and that’s exactly what it sounds like.

As well as the surviving Bonzos themselves, plus the late Vivian Stanshall in archive interviews, numerous famous fans weighed in. Terry Gilliam remembered the effect their ‘anarchy, silliness and outrageousness’ had on him. Neil Innes, the compositional backbone of the band, linked the programme loosely. Diane Morgan suggested that he never looked bothered on stage, but the backstage turmoil outlined in the programme indicates that Innes was a brilliant actor.

Meanwhile, on the Today programme, at the end of nearly 15 minutes of post-Budget platitudes and harrumphing, I was sure I heard John Humphrys call the Chancellor of the Exchequer ‘John Osborne’. It took a visit to iPlayer to assure me I’d heard wrongly. 

Louis on Twitter: @LFBarfe or email:

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