Kind Hearts and Coronets, Radio 4, Saturday Strap In - It's Clever Peter, Radio 4, Wednesday Beryl and Betty, BBC Radio Humberside, Saturday

McGowan's seven voices put new life into 'Kind Hearts'
  • @cmaume

Tricky though the film Kind Hearts and Coronets must have been for the many-roled Alec Guinness, it was almost certainly a doddle compared with Alistair McGowan's feat of portraying seven members of the Gascoyne family by voice alone, in yesterday's sequel. That there was never any doubt as to who was supposed to be whom was a tribute to his rightly lauded mimetic powers.

Kind Hearts and Coronets: Like Father, Like Daughter saw Unity Holland (daughter of the original film's killer, played by Dennis Price) seeking her rightful inheritance by knocking off the six sons of Lady Edith Gascoyne. It provided a lovely, featherlight way to while away an hour, nicely written by David Spicer, with Natalie Walter as the engagingly amoral Unity. When war breaks out, she records: "I offered to do my bit for King and country, but – rather shortsightedly in my case – women were deemed incapable of killing."

There was fine writing, too, in Strap In – It's Clever Peter, a 15-minute, no-time-to-be-bored sketch show by the Clever Peter troupe. There were nods to Stanley Unwin and gobbledegook – "Oh, I knew the memory of his smelt would stay in my pumf forever" – though among the funniest lines were the wordless ones given to "Mr Pippo the tiny hippo" caught up in the MPs' expenses scandal.

I also liked the obsessive listmaker dumping his girlfriend by phone, and 86-year-old Mrs Boyd and her ruthless techniques for dealing with door-to-door salesmen. The whole thing had that undergrad feeling of seeming very pleased with itself, but that's fine if it's funny – which it was.

I should now add my voice to the chorus of praise for Beryl and Betty, winners of the Sony Radio Award for Best Entertainment Programme. You should proceed forthwith to the iPlayer to catch their Saturday programme with David Reeves on BBC Radio Humberside.

It's a delight, Reeves knowing exactly what to say to get the pair – aged 86 and 90 – going with their throaty cackles. He sounds like a man who can't believe his good luck in having discovered two such natural entertainers. "Exciting stuff coming up on the programme today," he began last week. "Does that mean lovely young men we can feel up?" Beryl wondered.