Simon Evans hits the stage running, well, trotting briskly as his age (52) he says dictates – and does some hysterical routines about getting on, failing eyesight, the horrors of family life and parenthood, dogs, cats, pubic hair and much else. Some of which, as he admits, we may have heard before. We do not care. It is perfectly-timed, expert stuff and his faux-jaundiced views on everything he touches on have us shouting with laughter. But this is only the preamble to the new show of the title; in which he bemoans what he sees as the lack of great minds, and general dumbing down in life and politics these days. This is less successful than one would hope from such a professional. The wit is there, and the sharp delivery, but the point of it all seems less than coherent. There are some funny quips about the decline of the Guinness Book of Records; and sharply witty complaints about the endless elections and referenda of recent years – without, thankfully, expressing any opinions on the rights or wrongs of Brexit (phew!). But it strays into uncomfortable stuff about there being too much democracy and maybe we need a strong leader; jokingly (I hope jokingly) suggesting a return to absolute monarchy with Prince Harry as its head. He extols the value of academic learning above all else, and of the intellectual rigour it purportedly promotes, and quotes John Stuart Mill on the value of eccentricity and going against received wisdom. Well, yeah, but is it funny? All this seems odd to this critic, since the show is somewhat lacking in the intellectual rigour which it claims to be promoting. Particularly surprising from him, whose excellent ‘goes to market’ Radio 4 shows, for instance, were not. Maybe this show will sharpen up over time. Hope so.



John Christopher Wood