How local can you go?

Share
Related Topics
All heroes are local, more or less, but some are more local than others. In Local Heroes (Radio 2, Saturday), Tony Capstick set out to survey the dismal turnip-field of local entertainment, to discover why it is that some performers can be huge on their home patch and unknown everywhere else.

Dennis of Grunty Fen, for instance, is enormous in East Anglia. He has his own radio programme, and has even, so we were told, entertained the Royal family at Sandringham (though the unkind thought occurred that it might have been more accurate to say that he had appeared before them, and leave it at that). Dennis has a mysterious warm bucket - it never gets cold! - and believes that the dinosaurs were wiped out by the laxative properties of giant rhubarb (hilarious!). We also met Scotland the What?, a trio of middle-aged men from Aberdeen who make old-fashioned jokes in the Doric dialect, and remark with some asperity that the north-east of Scotland shouldn't be confused with the north-east of Britain, which of course lies between Newcastle and Sunderland; and, ironically, Paul Wheater, who is billed as "the North-east's answer to Jim Reeves".

The programme didn't, as promised, analyse why these entertainers don't travel. Up to a point, that didn't matter - five minutes with Dennis and you had a pretty shrewd idea where the problem lay. But we could have done with some idea of why he appealed to anybody in the first place: was it a matter of solidarity - a refusal to admit that a local boy isn't funny? Or is it that there are localised forms of entertainment which genuinely can't be translated on to the wider scene?

This last seems unlikely. What was dispiriting about the programme was the realisation that, aside from a smattering of dialect and a couple of references, there wasn't anything truly local about most of these acts. What's to differentiate the North-east's answer to Jim Reeves from the South-west's answer to Jim Reeves, except the label? With the other acts, most of the jokes were old ones with a bit of regional colour spattered on top - they all shared a generalised sense of localness which you could get anywhere.

You can certainly get it in North-East of Eden (Radio 4, Wednesday), a comedy series about a GP from London who comes to live on the improbably named island of Paradise, just off the north-east coast (that's the north- east coast of Britain, you understand). Peter Kerry's script contains some OK jokes - last week's depressive Norwegian fisherman ("All we have in Norway is Grieg, Ibsen and a pathological hatred of large aquatic mammals") - and more cheap ones (the days when John Selwyn Gummer was automatically funny are, thank God, behind us). But Paradise is just a stereotypical eccentric remote community, and for all the local colour, this might as well be about a doctor from New York ending up in Alaska. Come to think of it, that's not a bad premise for a programme...

True local feeling does exist, though: Another String (Thursday, Radio 4) featured the Cornish playwright and part-time lobster fisherman Nick Darke, whose strength of feeling for Cornwall was obvious and moving. But with it came a certain smugness; at one point, railing against benches on clifftops, he proclaimed that the people who perpetrated them might think they loved the place, but they didn't really. There was something ugly about that moment - pride shading into jealousy, love into possessiveness - that made me think more kindly of Dennis.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £26,000

£14000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to continued success, this ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Design Consultant - Kitchens & Interiors

£12000 - £14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This bespoke furniture and inte...

Recruitment Genius: Solar PV Surveyor

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Corporate Security Officer

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This provider of commercial security solution...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

I predicted MH370 would end up at Reunion Island. Its discovery could debunk conspiracy theories

Charitha Pattiaratchi
A protestor from the 'Robin Hood Tax Campaign,'  

The Robin Hood Tax is a more sensible and fairer way of helping our economy to recover

Jeremy Corbyn
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works