Fringe diary, day six: John Peel vs Doctor Who

John Peel: 'A grumpy radio DJ and not a god like genius'. But John Osborne's show about him is 'a delight'
Ian ColeStill going strong on his sixth day, the Mix’s man in Edinburgh Ian J Cole checks out tributes to two broadcasting legends


Today is my birthday so I have a lie-in, open my presents and cards then play with my Clangers whistle and Korg Kaossilator 2 before breakfast and the first show of the day.

11.35am John Peel’s Shed by John Osborne


I must say first of all that I never liked the John Peel radio show. I found most of the music he played was rubbish and I always found it difficult to believe that Peel liked a lot of the music he played (I know sacrilege!) because he would play anything on his show. It’s like he had no good taste filter.

The one time I sent him a tape of my band I gave up listening the night he was meant to play it so I’ve no idea if I was ever on the Peel show or not. Having said this I now feel that I’m glad he was broadcasting all of this rubbish on Radio 1 because it just doesn’t happen anymore.

I also have a problem of how much John Peel is revered since his death; he was in my memory a grumpy radio DJ and not a god-like genius (I know – sacrilege number two) and before the death threats and hate mail arrive, this is a personal opinion and of course I could be wrong. But it is my birthday so be nice to me.

John Osborne’s show starts with John sitting in a chair playing a record on a crappy plastic vinyl record player. Osborne won a box of records (from John Peel’s shed) by writing in to the John Peel radio show and at that time he didn’t even own a record player.

When he did get around to playing the records it took eight years to listen them all, but this is an ode to radio, a medium that John O is very passionate about. It’s a delight; it’s gentle and funny with some fantastic stories.

This show was a total sell-out at Edinburgh 2011 followed by a 50-date UK tour and BBC Radio 4 adaptation. There are only six shows at the Fringe and these will be John’s last ever performances of the show so hurry and see it while you can.

3.10pm My Stepson Stole My Sonic Screwdriver

In this sequel to Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf (a Sony Gold Award-nominated for BBC radio show) Toby Hadoke, a Doctor Who obsessive of the first order, delivers a heartfelt rites-of-passage memoir. It is brilliantly funny in places. Tony has a wealth of knowledge about the Time Lord and has seen every episode at least four times

The show is patchy. The first 20 minutes were fantastic then it dipped a bit only to get funnier towards the end. There was some walk outs, the first couple after about 15 minutes then a couple sat near me went after half an hour: maybe there was too much Doctor Who for them – or too few Daleks, who knows!

6pm Axis of Awesome: Cry Yourself A River

I’d wanted to see Axis of Awesome two years ago when I was last here but they were sold out the only night I was free. The show was billed as ‘a brand-new hour of musical comedy from those guys off of the internet’. I didn’t know much about AofA except they had sold out four years in a row at the Fringe.

This show was such a disappointment on so many levels. Now I am a big fan of musical comedy having seen The Panic Brothers and Doug Anthony All-Stars (both brilliant comedy musical acts) several times throughout the 1980s and 1990s. And I loved Rayguns Look Real Enough so much when I came in 2010 that I went to see them twice – but this AoF show was just lazy comedy.

Musically AoF are spot on, great musicians with fantastic harmony vocals, but that isn’t enough in this type of show. It just wasn’t funny and quite a few people walked out. It also smacked of corporate sell-out as they spent five minutes trying to sell us CDs, T-shirts and the like.

I would have liked to have seen them a couple of years ago when I suspect they really were the Axis of Awesome.

8.15pm Mod by the Infinity Repertory Theatre (New York)


Mod is described on the Fringe website as ‘original musical comedy inspired by the British pop of the early 60s… With an all-American cast, this upbeat spoof of Beatlemania will have audiences cheering. Rock’n’roll has never been so funny’ (ThreeWeeks).

Well I don’t think the ‘Three Weeks’ reviewer and I saw the same show.

The opening musical song is strong, well sung and crisply choreographed as is most of the musical numbers. Thank god for this because the acting is appalling. We have members of the cast running around the stage, screaming uncontrollable and constantly moving boxes around for no apparent reason.

Now I know this is American High School fair but we are expected to pay full Fringe prices for this and had it not been for some well performed musical songs that kept me going through the bad times, I would have walked out.

10.30pm DugOut Theatre’s Inheritance Blues

This was a rare production by the DugOut Theatre. Inheritance Blues is a play about family debt, heavy drinking, decade-old rivalries and the blues cover band The Hot Air Ballues. A play produced by a suburb cast of young actors it boasts brilliant storytelling, live music, a cappella singing and interesting choreography.

The only negative to spoil this fantastic performance was the ‘audience’. It was clear that a large proportion of the audience were friends with the chaps on stage (probably other actor groups from the Bedlam Theatre).

And these people didn’t know how to behave in a theatre while a play was on, which is interesting if they are meant to be members of the acting profession (the silly group of girls on the front row were particularly irritating). We had laughing, clapping and cheering at inappropriate times and I got the impression that as the play progressed the actors on stage were finding this behaviour tiresome.

Hopefully you will have a better audience when you go to see this fantastic production, as this is work that should be added to your list of plays to see.