Comedy review: Radio Active, City Varieties, Leeds

Not many radio shows are as funny, or funnier, several decades after they were committed to tape. Hancock is one exception; the surviving recordings of the Salford comedian and part-time sausage-maker Al Read another '“ and, it turns out, Radio Active, the 1980s spoof by Angus Deayton and the late Geoffrey Perkins, a third.

Angus Deayton with Radio Active co-stars Helen Atkinson Wood, Michael Fenton Stevens (left) and Philip Pope. Picture: Steve Ullathorne

It began, as did many productions of its time, as a stage show at university and then Edinburgh, and last year it came full circle, back to the fringe.

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The touring version, which docked in Leeds for a night, has an admirably high jokes-per-minute quotient and unlike hearing them on the wireless, the shared experience of the theatre made the laughter quite infectious.

Radio Active is a benign satire on what was then the new medium of local commercial radio. It has been a while since that novelty wore off, but any concerns that the humour might have dated were dispelled by the abject silliness of it all.

The material isn’t new but a compilation of the original scripts, which made this something of a Greatest Hits exercise, and there more than enough of those to go around. That the show sounded as if it had been tightly edited in post-production says much for the timing of Deayton and his collaborators – Helen Atkinson Wood, Philip Pope, Michael Fenton Stevens and, not least, an offstage sound effects person.