Ivan Brackenbury's Hospital Radio Roadshow

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

This is character that needs little explanation beyond the title. Ivan Brackenbury is a radio personality without a personality; a cheery but inept ‘bonkers’ DJ on Chesterfield And North Derbyshire Hospital Radio.

And very convincing he is, too. Brackenbury, who sports the Steve Wright moustache and ‘wacky’ red-rimmed glasses, sounds like any number of dreadful local or hospital radio hosts, from the relentlessly upbeat attitude, meaningless patter and punchy off-the-peg jingles.

Some of the gags come at the expense of his incompetence, of course, fluffing cues or pressing the wrong button. Most notably has an almost pathological tendency to play songs totally inappropriate to the patients’ conditions, creating a non-stop parade of sick jokes. It’s a very clever way of doing it, too, as all the audience members get the punchline at slightly different times, once they’ve figured out what the inappropriate line in the lyrics is about to be - and they laugh all the more heartily if they ‘beat the intro’ and got to the gag first.

There are sly digs at professional DJs, and badly edited clips that cack-handedly insert Brackenbury’s name into promotional statements from real-life celebrities, stolen from real radio stations. This does become repetitive after a while – at least until a twist in the pattern is revealed - but an hour really is a bit too much for most of the running jokes.

Another small problem is that the live arena isn’t really the best arena for what is essentially an audio experience, despite the admirable efforts of Brackenbury creator Tom Binns to create an upbeat roadshow feeling among the crowd. He, and the relentless hit tracks and musical stings, do make for a fun atmosphere – but this is obviously comedy designed for the radio, to which it is surely destined to return. (Brackenbury has previously appeared on GLR, where he was a favourite of Chris Evans, and on Lee and Herring’s Fist Of Fun).

Despite the technical clumsiness of his character, Binns is actually quite a wiz with the technology, keeping the clips and jingles coming a breakneck pace. It’s the fact that you’re never more than a few seconds away from another gag that makes the whole experience so enjoyable.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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