Fitzrovia Radio Hour

I’ve worked in the entertainment industry long enough to know that there’s almost nothing a little bit of tape won’t fix. Smashed a prop? Something wobbling? Broken heart? Something smoking in the rain? Costume problems? Sole coming off? “Tape it, mate.” I thought I’d apply that philosophy to the problem with my iPad going kablooie. The screen was coming off the front to that extent that typing my blog entries was driving me nuts. I used to enjoy it. Turns out it was nothing a bit of tape couldn’t fix. Now it’s as good as new. Well, not as good as new, but I can write this. 

Today I am doing the most English show you can possibly imagine. I’m in a little back room of a church in Blackheath eating shepherds pie. I’m in a jacket and bow tie with my hair slicked back. In just over 40 minutes I’ll be going on stage to perform with The Fitzrovia Radio Hour. It’s a show made a decade ago by a bunch of lovely misfits, and they got me in for the last five years. They started at the Bourne and Hollingsworth Bar in Soho ten years ago. After three years up at Edinburgh they’ve toured extensively, touching Ambassadors Theatre, The Globe, The Vaults, St James Theatre, and loads of other venues and theatres in London and all over the country. I just asked Jon for a sound bite, and he said “We’re the Fleetwood Mac of theatre.” I bought this iPad three years ago with the money I got from touring with them. It seems appropriate that I’ve used their LX tape to jerry rig the thing back together. Ideally I need another lovely job so I can just replace it the thing and have done with it.


Over on stage, there are two Victorian style microphones, and a foley box for sound effects. The game of the show is that you are the studio audience for the famous Fitzrovia Radio Hour in the 1940s. You will watch us perform episodes of our long running soaps, and long form complete tales of horror, bravery, derring do and social impropriety. This evening we have episode 869 of The Romance of Helen Sims, “A London secretary sets out prove what all women long to prove – that romance can exist beyond the age of 35.” We have an adventure story set in the untamed Pacific – It Came From The Black Abyss. We also have some elocution lessons, as we are in South East London, so we must teach them to “speak proper like what we do.” And the evening is sponsored by Rose’s Carbolic Soap, so there are three adverts with lovely songs about body odour.


We have a huge pile of random objects with which to make sound effects. My effects range from typewriters and phones to dying krakens and harpoons. It’s going to be ridiculous. And with this amount of rehearsal it’s bound to go wrong somewhere.


We are raising the roof and raising money for the church roof. I told you it was the most English show in the world. I was asked to come in and do it in my last week in LA, and I thought it would be great to have an immediate point of focus when I got back. It’s to get money to mend the spire in this lovely Norman church in Blackheath. St Michaels and All Angels. We rehearsed evenings and weekend so we could all do our various day jobs.


I’m on in fifteen minutes so I suppose I need to screw my new head on. I just wanted to get this written before the show, knowing how things can sometimes go afterwards. Wish me (redundant) luck.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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