Musical history has been unfair to Brian Appleton, the rock musicologist who claims to have been instrumental in the development of prog rock, The Smiths and Phil Collins. Various famous musicians who would listen in from behind his garden fence or crouch on the roof as he played his melodica as a child, he claims, stole his contribution. This strange character, a previous Fringe hit and BBC Four feature is a creation of Graham Fellows, the man who brought us John Shuttleworth, a similarly deluded musical character.
Fellows has created a character so strangely real that it’s hard to imagine what audience members who thought he might be being serious were thinking. As Appleton takes us through a ‘world history’, he plays us little ditties including a song about Oliver Cromwell’s grizzly end and the very first prog rock anthem ‘Lucy you’re in the wrong wardrobe… Aslan is waiting for you’, which are funny but not hilarious. Fellows simply does not have enough distance from Brian Appleton, it no longer feels like parody, which is the main problem with this show.
Although there is something funny about Appleton’s ridiculously gruff Brummie accent (sometimes so thick he becomes a tad indecipherable) he’s taken his character too far in a World History in 3 Darts. His character is so boring that his show has too become just a little too…boring. Constant references to Eric Bristow and other darts players got old pretty quickly for those of us who aren’t experts on darts (nearly all of us, let’s be honest). All of his references were painfully dated and his retelling of history became tedious quite quickly. Although I realise that the whole point of Brian Appleton is that he’s boring, useless and obsessed with two things – music and darts, it all got a bit tiresome. There is clearly space for this kind of comedy on today’s scene, with Alan Partridge the hilarious hit that it is, but if Fellows doesn’t keep up, Brian Appleton will simply have to go.