radio review

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In The Real Inspector Hound, Tom Stoppard's Pirandellian take on the country house murder mystery, a second-string theatre critic sitting in the audience talks to a colleague about the Box-and-Cox frustrations of his job. His presence is only made possible by the absence of Higgs, the first-string critic, so that "Where's Higgs?" greets him wherever he goes; he is constantly waiting to step into another man's shoes. When it turns out that Higgs has been murdered, he is the obvious suspect. In fact, it turns out that the real culprit is the third-string critic, who then finishes off the second-string and so (presumably) leapfrogs to the top of the ladder.

You wonder if Kevin Greening ever harbours murderous intentions towards Simon Mayo. He has a career of his own, doing Radio 1's weekend morning show, but I always think of him as Simon Mayo's holiday relief - "relief" being the right word. Greening is, to my mind, a far better or, at least, far funnier DJ than Mayo. Of course, he has the huge advantage of simply not being Simon Mayo, of making a nice change. But he does have positive virtues, too. Twice in the last few months - this is true - I've caught myself laughing out loud at a joke while half-listening to Simon Mayo's morning show, and thinking that he's really much funnier than I give him credit for. On both occasions, it's turned out to be Kevin Greening.

His material isn't to everybody's taste. Some listeners were shocked when he told the Eskimo car-mechanic joke a while back (mechanic tells the car's owner "Looks like you've blown a seal", owner says "No, it's just frost on my moustache"), and the risque double entendre plays perhaps too large a part in his repartee. He's standing in for Mayo over the next couple of weeks, and in yesterday's "Golden Hour" - when you have to identify a year from a selection of records and headlines - included the information: "This was the year that the sale of contraceptives was finally made legal in Ireland... they had been planning to do it for a while, but kept pulling out at the last minute." Simon Mayo's material isn't very much worse; just that he lacks the charm to put it over.

Of course, Greening may be perfectly happy with his lot, and one certainly doesn't condone violence. But if something does happen to Simon Mayo and awkward questions are asked, I'll be happy to testify that Kevin was round my house all evening.

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