Brighton Argus Review 2005

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Count Arthur Strong, Komedia, Brighton

Somebody should tell Stephen Delaney you don’t have to get into costume for a radio show.

Of course, he probably doesn’t have much say in the dress code, particularly with a character as single-minded as Count Arthur Strong calling the shots.

Completely taking over the host body like some comedic invasion of the bodysnatchers, Delaney is merely the skin and bones keeping the spirit of the cantankerous count standing – or should that be slightly hunched?

The first of three recordings for what is described as the “jewel in Radio 4’s Christmas schedule crown”, Strong was joined on stage by his Radio Repertory Company (real-life figures Jo Neary, Anthony Kerr and Dave Mounfield), introduced by Radio 2 DJ Mark Radcliffe and helped out by some choice volumes of the BBC sound-effects library.

As endearingly shambolic as we have come to expect from Ross Noble’s favourite character comedian, the event allowed us a unique insight into both the recording of a radio show and the microcosm of Count Arthur’s bumbling existence.

From haggling over the price of a scouring pad and the difficulties of opening a door via an intercom in the pilot episode to the mystery of a missing cauliflower and a booksigning in a butcher’s shop in the second instalment, all interspersed with anecdotes about Jimmy Clitheroe, Max Bygraves and the rising price of offal, it is a tightlyscripted, well-presented show fronted by a character so beautifully realised you couldn’t fail but be convinced of his existence.

All Tourettic ticks, false starts and nervous fumbling, badly covered up by a delicate sheen of bravado and self-assurance, Strong is that most beautiful of creations.

As cliched as it may be to liken him to the likes of Alan Partridge, Basil Fawlty and David Brent, he is further evidence that the best comedy requires you to laugh at, and not with, someone.

14 September 2005



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