Round The Horne Revisited

JOHN LAWSON Norwich Theatre Royal


> Norwich Theatre Royal

As I settled into my seat and the lights dimmed, 40 years fell away as easily as did the plane from beneath Paul Burrell's feet over the Australian jungle.

In a moment I was seven years old again, sitting up close to my tinny transistor radio totally transfixed by Rambling Syd Rumpo, J Peasmold Gruntfuttock, Charles and Fiona and the inimitable Julian and Sandy.

Of course, I could no longer listen with the same childlike innocence that saw my parents nudging each other knowingly - and with the benefit of hindsight it is amazing to think that this level of double entendre ever found its way on to the air before the watershed, let alone at 2.30 on a Sunday afternoon.

Rumour has it the burghers of the BBC just didn't see through the showbiz palare - or more likely turned a blind eye in the face of a sure-fire hit.

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But here it was in all its glory, Kenneth Williams (a flared-nostrilled Paul Ryan), Betty Marsden (the multi-voiced Sherry Baines) and the urbane Kenneth Horne (Stephen Critchlow) exactly, and hilariously, as I remembered them.

Hugh Paddick (Jonathan Moore) and Douglas Smith (Stephen Boswell) were not - but were no less entertaining for it.

We were back in the dingy Paris Recording Studio in Lower Regent Street, the cast sidling up to the microphone in turn, to be reunited with characters that have lived so long in the imagination.

All around me, people of a certain age were reliving their different favourite moments - but this was not just a nostalgia fest. The young people in the audience were roaring their approval too.

A short run has ensured that each night is set to be a sellout, but they will be back with a new show next year. It was certainly bona to vada their dolly old eeks again.