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Des Bishop: My Dad Was Nearly James Bond

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Julia Chamberlain

In recent years there’s been a fashion for misery memoirs about impoverished childhood blighted by neglect, abuse and absentee parents. This joyful show is the polar opposite of all that and will make your spirit soar as you laugh your socks off and feel your heart squeezed.

This is a show about family, growing up and dealing with life’s big moments; it packs an emotional punch  and yet will keep you rocking with laughter.

Des Bishop’s  film-star looks come straight from dad, Mike, who could not have made a worse job of  James Bond than George Lazenby did, but  was denied the opportunity. A successful model and small-time actor, he invested in his family’s future rather than his own ego by abandoning  his acting dream, swapping the precariousness of movies for the security of retail. And the three Bishop sons behaved like any other family group, moving from  hero worship to mockery once their hormones began to fizz.  Much of the humour comes not only from the family stories but the astute observations of national personality traits.

We are treated to a race through Mike Bishop’s life, excellently illustrated with photos and film clips and illuminated by Des’s affectionate but not over-respectful commentary. The laughs are paused, but not halted, by the news of that Bishop Snr was diagnosed with terminal cancer back in November. And this is where Des Bishop’s emotional intelligence and humanity take the story from the specific tale of his dad’s life to the universal problem of how we behave when we confront the reality of our parents’ mortality.

It’s a club which we all join eventually, but it’s also an experience which is rarely talked about before it’s too late.  This show confronts that annihilating pain without sentimentality or histrionics and left this audience whooping and cheering in celebration of the guy who was never James Bond.

Des Bishop’s control of the room is outstanding, he radiates warmth and energy but is never needy or puppyish, this a mature, controlled, humane and above all dazzlingly funny show.

Review date: 16 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Julia Chamberlain

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