On Sunday the comedian Simon Brodkin came close to living the dream of many an Englishman when he snuck into the England World Cup squad and very nearly boarded the team plane to the tournament. Gelled, tanned and earringed as his character Jason Bent, a middle-ranking Premier League footballer, he mingled with Gerrard, Rooney and co before being bundled away from the scene by the police.
“There wasn’t really a plan, to be honest. I just thought it would be a giggle”, Brodkin says.
Having bought the official England suit from Marks and Spencer on his way to a gig the night before, he packed his passport and set off for Luton airport.
Once there a group of plane-spotters pointed him in the direction of the private terminal where the England team were waiting to board.
His disguise was so pitch-perfect, he almost got away with it.
“I had to shop myself. I think it was Gerrard who caught my eye first so I said to him, ‘So am I in the squad then or what? I’ve got my passport, got my suit, I’ve learned the first three lines of the national anthem. Let’s go to Brazil.’”
While some of the players got the joke – “There were smirks and smiles. They usually get asked fairly mundane questions about why they won, lost or drew so this was a bit of fun.” – security was slower off the mark. A team official had to check with the other players if Bent played for England or not. “Then he panicked, grabbed me and got the coppers on me. They were also a little confused as to why they were potentially arresting a member of the England squad. I’d been hanging around for a while so I looked like I should have been part of the action.”
This is not the first time Brodkin has grappled with the law as Bent. Last year a prank in which he joined the Manchester City team on the pitch at Goodison Park as they warmed up for a match against Everton ended in court. He was given a conditional caution and banned from all football matches until the end of the season.
A doctor before he became a comedian, he is best known as his alter-ego Lee Nelson, a cheeky South London geezer in a baseball cap but Brodkin is a versatile talent. I remember seeing him try out Nelson seven years ago in a cramped Edinburgh basement in an hour that also showcased his depressive holiday rep, tactless Indian doctor and posh traveller called Hugo.
Overpaid, over-preened and over-hyped, English footballers were another obvious target for the comedian. Bent, “a melting pot of all the ridiculous attitudes and antics of all the big footballers that we know and love”, has previously appeared on the Lee Nelson show giving bone-headed post-match interviews and naked locker-room speeches. His attempt at an autobiography, meanwhile, could give @BoringMilner, the hilariously tedious parody account of England footballer James Milner, a run for its money. “Rather than getting a ghost writer, Jason tried to write it himself so it was, ‘Chapter 1: I get out of bed. Then I go downstairs. Then I’m downstairs. I always put out my Coco Pops the night before so there’s less to do in the morning’ that sort of thing,” says Brodkin. Last week Bent hosted World Cup’s Best Ever Goals, Ever! on BBC3 and there are more outings planned, tangles with the law notwithstanding. “This time they were very nice about it and they took it in the spirit it was meant - a bit of light-hearted fun.” Why not – England fans will likely need something to laugh about in the coming weeks.
Frankie Boyle has a new cookery show. An unexpected sentence if ever there was one, but this week the outspoken Scottish comedian revealed his inner Delia. In the spoof clip, Boyle cooks a Lancashire hotpot while bantering lamely with his co-host Bob Mortimer. It is surreal, rude and spot-on at skewering the banal chumminess and lame audience interaction of certain daytime programming.
The show is one of six starry comedy exclusives released on iPlayer this week. Reece Shearsmith and Sally Phillips play a Germanic doctor and patient in a 1930s noir while the deliciously sonorous Matt Berry narrates a nature documentary with a difference. Meera Syal, Mickey Flanagan and Morgana Robinson have also provided clips. The results are largely throwaway, but when major talents are allowed off the leash to be silly, swear and experiment at will, it is rather good fun to watch.
What I Watched…
Three Russian stand-ups
Alexandr Pushnov, Anton Borisov and Igor Meerson played a Russian-language Elgar Room at the Royal Albert Hall this week to the delight of London’s ever-growing ex-pat population. There were musical parodies, jokes about Russians abroad and the whole thing ended with an Abandoman-style improvised rap.
Julia Davis and Alastair Roberts star in this creepy, wordless short film about a bird-obsessed mother and her disturbed son. Ben Target and Joe Parham direct.
Katy Brand stars as the zany best friend in this all-singing, all-dancing new British rom-com. Think Mamma Mia!, only set in Italy, with 80s tunes and an even cheesier script – if that’s possible. Released 27 June.