Radio Times, Theatre Royal Winchester

Gary Wilmot in Radio Times

Gary Wilmot in Radio Times

First published in Stage Reviews by

BBC light entertainment brought much-needed cheer to homes across the country throughout wartime Britain and now Radio Times blitzes the genre back to life in all its riproaring, side-splitting glory.

The theatre is transformed into The Criterion Theatre, London, circa 1940, which had been commissioned by the BBC to host its famous variety shows for the wireless.

Radio Times centres on the live broadcast of Variety Bandwagon providing the perfect excuse for a long line of the very best, tongue-in-cheek, variety entertainment.

At the helm of the show is Sammy Shaw, expertly played by a Gary Wilmot very much in his element thanks to a script packed with witty one-liners and cliché gags. While Shaw grows increasingly jealous of his girlfriend Olive’s (Sara Crowe) relationship with the celebrity guest star Gary Strong (Michael Hobbs), his casual approach to paperwork threatens to put the whole show in jeopardy.

But to be honest the storylines just tend to get in the way of the succession of truly brilliant ‘on-air’ performances of Noel Gay songs. The comically slick rendition of Run Rabbit Run in act two is superb as is the moment the entire ensemble pull out ukuleles and sing Hey Little Hen.

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