In the last decade I have been fortunate to review several family orientated shows featuring stars of children’s television. Yes, having three children I’ve seen them all from Mr Tumble to Fireman Sam, Hi 5 to Peppa Pig. Yet its quite apt that as my children are getting older the last two shows I have found myself reviewing have featured characters from my own childhood, still going strong and generating genuine belly laughs with today’s audiences.
Following on from Sooty’s appearance at The Riverfront last year, the cunning but lovable fox Basil Brush made his debut performance at the venue on Saturday.
As with the TV shows we all knew and loved back in the 1960s and 70s, slapstick humour, music and jokes ruled supreme with several double entendres for the grown ups thrown in for good measure.
For me, I didn’t feel I was just there for the benefit of my son who wanted to see the show; this was a chance for me to recapture some of that precious magic of long lost Saturday afternoons on BBC 1 where the TV schedule consisted of football results, Doctor Who and The Generation Game.
It might not have been vintage TV straight men (Mr) Derek Fowlds or (Mr) Roy North up on the stage with Basil but Chris Pizzey AKA Mr Stephen and Matthew John Morley as Theatre owner Mr Snell (Mr Smell) provided great foils to the cunning Brush.
Basil himself retains that magic quality interacting frequently with participants and the audience, while improvising through stage mishaps in the fast paced show. When attempting to read from a book that happened to be closed he joked “I’m reading from a closed book, it’s a good job I have the script at my feet”. Nobody minded at all, not even the children whose laughter echoed across the Riverfront theatre. For me it was the same priceless laughter that gave so much joy to me as a child back in the 1970s. Long live Basil Brush!