Radio Active review: I want Hymns to Boogie To

Radio Active cast-mates Michael Fenton Stevens, Angus Deayton, Helen Atkinson Wood and Philip Pope.

Radio Active cast-mates Michael Fenton Stevens, Angus Deayton, Helen Atkinson Wood and Philip Pope. Picture: STEVE ULLATHORNE - Credit: Steve Ullathorne

As a fan of radio comedy - The Now Show, The News Quiz, Round the Horne etc - I am sorry to say Radio Active passed me by when it was first broadcast in the 1980s (ahem...too young, obviously) so it was great catch the new tour at the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds.

The show was originally heard on BBC Radio 4 before transferring to television in 1989 and being nominated for a British Comedy Award and understandably.

While the script alone is enough to make you laugh out loud, there is so much more hilarity to enjoy watching these talented veterans of comedy perform a “radio show” live - the facial expressions, the gestures, the corpsing, the shared romantic glances... well, maybe not the last one, although there was a near-kiss between two of the men that I’m not sure was entirely scripted.

It’s all the joy of the radio show, with bonus visual gags and an occasional sarcastically raised eyebrow.

This latest “recording” sees members of the original Radio Active cast take to the stage with a variety of sketches and a dizzying array of voices and accents.

Michael Fenton Stevens brings the heart, Angus Deayton the cool, Helen Atkinson Wood the class and Philip Pope the music. But make no mistake, they all bring the funny.

During the first half, a packed audience was treated to the Dickens play David Chizzlenut - occasionally Chuzzlebut - featuring badly timed sound effects and badly typed scripts. Also, in a sketch reminiscent of The Two Ronnies, Deayton hosted Masterquiz with wrong questions, wrong answers and a turnip.

Other features included a medical phone-in, Pope translating opera for Right Up the Arts and some brilliant musical interludes. Frankly, watching Fenton Stevens play air guitar is worth the ticket price alone.

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Of course, no radio show would be complete without commercials and this was no different. We were tempted by bigger clothes to make you slimmer, which is genius; a collection of Hymns to Boogie To, is it wrong that I want that; and Bob Dylan sings the Hits of the 80s. Yes, I’d totally buy that one too.

Finally, the famous HeeBeeGeeBees - the three men looking strangely sexy in chest-baring leather jackets - took to the stage to sing meaningless songs in really high voices. Brilliant.


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