Wednesday 4 June 2014

Dan and Nick: Unsung

Talking of comedy, I was dozing off in bed last night (no, that's not the comedy) and found myself chuckling away at something that was going out on Radio 4 Extra. It was a kind of steampunk-flavoured, pun-packed period occult detective comedy, full of nifty wordplay, ingenious insults and really rather clever gags. I discovered when it ended that this was Ectoplasm, a series created and performed by those unsung greats of radio comedy, Dan Freedman and Nick Romero, whose Dan and Nick: The Wildebeest Years also turns up from time to time on Radio 4 Extra. The Wildebeest years is the one that features Incy Wincy Quincy, the spider pathologist, and Robin Would, the madly camp version of Robin Hood  ('What would you have me do - live a lie?') performed by none other than the Rev Richard Coles, late of The Communards. 
  Ectoplasm is a different kettle of fish, each episode being a self-contained story in which occult investigator and 'walker in the ether' Lord Zimbabwe and his friend Doctor Lilac, a German scientist with megalomaniac tendencies, come to the aid of a young lady. ('Are you Cursed? Haunted?  Are you an unrealistically attractive young lady who only seeks the help of fictional detectives? Then pray allow us to recommend the services of the Empire’s greatest OCCULTIST and INVESTIGATOR of STRANGE GOINGS-ON and ETHEREAL SHENANIGANS: the estimable LORD ZIMBABWE. Please make suitable representations to his Major Domo, Mr Theremin, at Bluebell End, England.’) 
 Zimbabwe's malign, acid-tongued butler is played by the legendary newsreader Peter Donaldson, and lurking in the background is Schrodinger, a lecherous semi-corporeal cat. Each episode ends with Lord Zimbabwe saying ' I think we handled that rather well' and Theremin replying 'I couldn't agree less, sir.' I say 'each episode', but last night's was the third of only four that were made. You can catch the last on Radio 4 Extra next Tuesday night at 11. If you like the sound of it. 

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