Alex Lowe

Alex Lowe

A comic actor who's appeared in the likes of The 11 O'Clock Show, The Jim Tavare Show, Fun At The Funeral Parlour and TvGoHome, Alex Lowe has most recently adopted the persona of Barry from Watford, a regular caller to Iain Lee's LBC show, and based a 2006 Edinburgh show around the conversations they had on air.
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R4 series for Barry From Watford

An agony uncle for the elderly...

Barry from Watford is getting his own Radio 4 show.

The rasping octogenarian’s creator, Alex Lowe, is writing Barry’s Lunch Club, a stand-up series for the 11.30am comedy slot, in which the character acts as an agony uncle for the middle-aged and elderly.

Likening the format to a ‘residents’ association or consumer advice meeting’, Lowe says the four, 30-minute episodes will ‘give us an opportunity to talk at length about subjects that are relevant to everyone but particularly the over-55s’.

He told Chortle: ‘It’s pretty much a straight stand-up set but with a sidekick acting as secretary’.

He is yet to cast the secretary role but it will be ‘someone’s who’s genuinely Barry’s age or slightly younger.

‘We feel it’s disingenuous to have me, in my mid-40s, playing a guy of 82 and making statements about being a pensionable age, and having no one in it of that age. It redresses the balance and gives it some authenticity. I don’t want anyone to accuse us of just taking the piss out of old people. That’s not what it’s about at all.’

The show grew out of Lowe’s 2013 Edinburgh Fringe show, Barry from Watford: Shooting from the (New) Hip, which was spotted by the now-departed Radio 4 comedy commissioning editor Caroline Raphael.

As Barry, Lowe has made many appearances on radio shows hosted by the likes of Iain Lee, Steve Wright and Fred MacAulay, and currently hosts a podcast with Dan Skinner as Angelos Epithemiou, The Angelos and Barry Show. The pair are planning a live tour of the show next year with promoters Live Nation.

Lowe also starred in the one-off Sky Atlantic Common Ground pilot, Barry, in 2013, but it wasn’t picked up.

He adds: ‘I’ve tried many things, I’ve done a lot of pilots and been in lots of people’s things as Barry. And we decided that what Caroline had seen in Edinburgh, me doing stand-up, let’s put our money where our mouth is with what’s effectively quite a straight stand-up show. And luckily, she was up for it.’

He and producer and co-writer Alex Walsh-Taylor deliberately targeted the 11.30am slot, believing there would be less competition then. ‘We’ve tailored it to that demographic rather than a younger, comedy demographic who might be listening in the evening,’ he said.

Lowe also reprised his role as psychic medium Clinton Baptiste in Phoenix Nights Live last month. He shared a dressing room with Ted Robbins and recalls ‘the horror’ he felt when Robbins collapsed on stage with a cardiac arrest.

It was pretty awful. I don’t ever want to see that again,’ he said. ‘But once Ted was OK, and in hospital, and the show got going again, it was a fantastic experience. The best job I’ve ever done.

‘For an egomaniac like me, to pop up on my own and do 15 minutes on my own in front of 14,000 people a night, was utterly terrifying at first. Then after a while, the most amazing adrenaline rush. You can see why the Rolling Stones still want to play arenas in their seventies. It’s just completely overwhelming and I felt as if I was completely spoilt.’

- by Jay Richardson

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Published: 8 Mar 2015

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