Rebecca Tyrrel: 'No power on earth can crush the spirit of the Sir Cliff lookalike, Mike Read'


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The Independent Online

Who knew Mike Read plans to revive his musical play about Oscar Wilde, which on its October 2004 outing was closed after just one night? And who can know why? Except that Read, former stalwart of Wonderful Radio 1 is nothing if not the triumph of hope over experience in human form. No power on earth can crush the spirit of the Cliff Richard lookalike. Not the bankruptcy that forced him to sell his home and record collection, not the critical reaction to his 'choc-art' renditions of LS Lowry's works, not the failure of his other musical that was themed on the life of his friend and muse Sir Cliff, not being the first voted off I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!, not even another famously short-lived run as prospective Tory candidate for London mayor. Read quickly withdrew and selflessly blogged in support of Boris Johnson, whom he tutored in high politics by expressing his belief that rapists, murderers and paedophiles had no place on the streets of London and never would.

Time and again poor Mike Read gets knocked down, yet like the character in "Tubthumping" – a record which, unlike "Relax", he never had banned from his radio shows, although it contains the word 'pissing', which is rude – nothing's gonna keep him down.

And why should it? Some present at what was both Oscar Wilde's opening and closing night in 2004 felt that, if only Mel Brooks had seen it in time, he could have used it in place of "Springtime for Hitler", and The Producers would have got away with their scam and never gone to jail.

According to Mike Read, however, Oscar Wilde failed because of "difficulties the punters had finding the theatre...". A large building on a major London thoroughfare such as the Euston Road was, for most people, a navigational challenge too far.

The elite group of compass-bearers who did attend included Sir Cliff, Princess Diana's former bodyguard Ken Wharfe (why?) and myself (again, why?). We are obviously thrilled that the chorus "Oscar! We love your wit! Oscar! We love your style!" will have another run out, and hope that it transfers from a pub theatre in Victoria to a major West End stage, and on to Broadway. However, perhaps Sir Cliff should do the kind thing and take Mike Read into a quiet corner and whisper in his ear, "Relax, don't do it, no one's coming to it."