COMEDY: Al Murray: Pub Landlord

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The Independent Culture
Al Murray: Pub Landlord, Her Majesty's, London SW1 (0171-494 5558) 7.30pm Sun; The Stand-Up Show, BBC1 2 Nov

With a regular TV slot in the offing, Al Murray's Pub Landlord is just a dart's throw away from entering the national consciousness with his beery grin and bristling Gazza haircut. Just as Harry Enfield's Loadsamoney, coming to the fore in the late Eighties,

personified the grabbing greed of Thatcherism, so the Pub Landlord, with his

ingrained xenophobia and Europhobic mentality, looks set to reflect the comic extremes of the new Tory Right as a kind of Alf Garnett for the Nineties. With the general election looming the time is now for Pub Landlord, though Murray stresses that the character was never part of some calculated comedy meisterplan. "I was covering costume changes for Harry Hill. He had to go off and change wigs, so I just put on a suit and turned into a horrible Cockney landlord." The result is a gloriously uplifting creation who, when not slagging off the French or

gor-blessing the Queen Mum, turns pub philosopher, tearfully staring into his pint: "What are they but bubbles drifting up in the lager of life." A sure sign of the character's success has been the audience reaction to Murray's Perrier-nominated show. "People come up afterwards and ask me where my boozer is. They say things like, 'How d'you juggle the stand-up, what with running your pub an' that?'"