Radio Active

Radio Active is an 80s Radio 4 satirical sketch show, born from the Oxford Revue at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It ran for seven series and was hugely popular. Episodes were geared towards sending up celebrity and the media more than politicians, with the show not to taking itself too seriously.

An occasionally amusing exercise in nostalgia, which sadly fails to match the memory of the original broadcasts.

Cast members were household names in their day; namely, Angus Deayton (host of Have I Got News for You), Geoffrey Perkins (BBC head of comedy for six years), Helen Atkinson Wood (Blackadder, QI), Michael Fenton Stevens (Spitting Image and Hitch Hikers Guide…) and Philip Pope (Not the Nine O'Clock News, The Fast Show). Sadly, Perkins died in 2008, but the four remaining cast were warmly welcomed to the Fringe stage by this capacity audience.

Tonight’s performance is based on the original transmitted episodes David Chizzlenut and Did You Catch It? We kick off with what feels like hours (actually two minutes) of audio, featuring jokes intended to transport us back to the Active hay day. It’s a surprisingly low key start and would have worked better if a) it had been rather shorter and b) they’d been some better jokes. Indeed, the whole show is performed as if it’s a radio recording, with each cast member stepping up to the mic in turn to do their bit. The action then, for the most part is rather, well, inactive.

The musical numbers provide a couple of high points. The cast only let rip visually during the Status Quo spoof band (Status Quid) performing Boring Song and the final number, the Bee Gees parody band (The Hee Bee Gee Bees) singing Meaningless Songs (in Very High Voices).

Ultimately though, we are presented with scripts that are over thirty years old, delivered verbatim by people standing about. An occasionally amusing exercise in nostalgia, which sadly fails to match the memory of the original broadcasts.

Reviews by Martin Walker

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The Blurb

Angus Deayton, Helen Atkinson Wood, Michael Fenton Stevens and Philip Pope reunite to bring classic scripts from the award-winning BBC Radio 4 series back to its Edinburgh Festival Fringe birthplace. Book early!