The Complete History of the BBC (Abridged)

Alix Cavanagh
Five Rounds Rapid
Sweet Grassmarket

When coming to the Edinburgh Fringe, an investigation into the British Broadcasting Corporation is certainly not at the top of anyone's to do list. However, Five Rounds Rapid has created a lecture-come-performance which, although sounding bizarre and relatively draining, is an upbeat and fun little show that keeps the audience captivated with a string of information from the beginning of the early thirties through to the modern day.

The Complete History of the BBC (Abridged) consists of Alix Cavanagh and Paul Thomas as the dysfunctional couple of Terrance and Ingrid bouncing off of each other with great comic effect. They act as the compères in this surreal jaunt down memory lane hurtling you through a near century of BBC trivia and tv sound bites.

The snivelling Terrance's obsession with the BBC is hilarious to watch and the idea of the whole show taking place in his garden shed makes the show even more amusing as if he is holding a dark secret from the world outside. His eccentricity is certain balanced out by Cavanagh's constant reality checks, bringing the cute old man back to his senses when he suddenly begins waffling over subjects such as Blue Peter or The Shipping Forecast.

The nice undercurrent of dry humour mixed with what appears to be a wife's disapproval at her husband's surreal hobby keeps the piece nicely humming with questionable costume changes aplenty.

There are points in the production that play towards a slightly older audience with a great many gags needing some amount of BBC knowledge for you to understand the punchline. The constant reminder that Joe Loss broadcasted for years on end was funny to the few who knew of him the first time but by the sixth mention it's lost all flair. Also the lack of originality in some of the jokes wears thin every now and again. A prime example being the hunt for Charlie, the couple's lost pet cat, that preoccupies Ingrid's mind for half of the show.

It is definitely a well pieced together and thought-through production that merits great credit for being able to turn what seems like such a dull choice of subject matter into a comical and interesting performance. If you walk into The Complete History of the BBC (Abridged) you will without doubt laugh, gasp and learn something in the process.

The Complete History of the BBC (Abridged) runs until 25 August at Sweet Grassmarket.

Reviewer: Liam Blain

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