Toby Hadoke: Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

Geek pride continues to sweep comedy, and its latest recruit
is Toby Hadoke, who has chosen to use his first Edinburgh show
to come clean about his guilty obsession: Doctor Who.

Hadoke has run XS Malarkey, probably the best-loved comedy
club in Manchester, for a decade. But it's taken the recent resurgence
of the series for him to be able to step out of his Tardis-shaped
closet and finally admit his unhealthy yearnings.

Despite the longevity of the series and its familiar iconography,
it's surprising that the show hasn't featured as much of a stand-up
reference before, especially compared to the ubiquity of Star
Wars. Perhaps its low budgets mean it has, until now, been considered
too low-rent to bother about.

Hadoke would have no truck with that. To him Star Wars is
all brash spectacle, expensive but soulless, while Doctor Who
is an inventive, intelligent, educational show pushing a tolerant,
liberal agenda. Oh yes, he sees the subtext, is eloquent about
expressing his opinions ­ and especially forthright when
it comes to defending his beloved show against his detractors.
Just don't get him started on the notorious reputation for wobbly

It's these passionate emotions that make the show, not Hadoke's
infallible knowledge of every bit-part actor in every episode
ever made. He can conjure up indignant rage with the best of
them, getting swept away with his arguments of why this cheap
British sci-fi is an inspiring analogy for life.

Appropriately enough, there's a lot more inside Hadoke's show
than appears on the outside. It's not just one 32-year-old man's
fixation on something he really ought to have grown out of. Instead
he uses the programme to draw analogies with his own life, from
unrequited teenage passion to bonding with his own son ­
his life unfolds with every regeneration of the Doctor.

There are weaknesses in some of the material. Some bits, especially
towards the start, sound too much like contrived stand-up that
sit uneasily with the genuine feelings expressed in the rest
of the show; some of his assertions don't bear up to much scrutiny;
and he is occasionally content with cliché, whether it
be the BBC's 'gravel pits off the M25' location work or the dismissive
description of football as '22 muscular, sweaty man running around'.

But these are easily forgiven, as Hadoke's a charming, self-aware
guide with a witty touch. And crucially, this is an object lesson
in how to structure a show, using the nerdish obsession to explore
the man within, subtly spinning threads of ideas though the show
that culminate in a neat, touching pay-off. It makes for one
of the most entertaining hours this side of Gallifrey.

Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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