This review was originally written for The Public Reviews
More than thirty years after The Bradshaws was first broadcast as a short story on Manchester’s Piccadilly radio station, the fictitious family are still going strong as they embark on a new UK tour called Goosed.
For those who aren’t familiar with the show, The Bradshaws is a fictional family created and voiced by comedian and musician Buzz Hawkins. Originally created for a radio show in 1983, the comedy sketch has grown into a cult comedy series loved by listeners both at home and abroad.
Set in Manchester in the 1950s, Alf, Audrey and young Billy Bradshaw live in a little two-up-two-down house in the fictional suburb of Barnoldswick. As Billy plays out on the street, Alf is down the backyard and Audrey is darning the family socks, it seems suspiciously peaceful in the Bradshaw household. But it doesn’t last. What Audrey doesn’t know is that Alf has pinched her club money and lost it on a lame horse at Doncaster. What Alf doesn’t know is that Audrey has volunteered him for a part in Billy’s school panto. And what Billy doesn’t know is that the goose his dad brings home (after a few beers) is not a pet.
Comical, clever and seriously entertaining, Buzz Hawkins may have been performing The Bradshaws for over 30 years but it certainly hasn’t lost any of its charm. The award-winning writer, producer and all-round funnyman is on top form with a new rib-tickling storyline that is reminiscent of Northern life in the 1950s.
Hawkins does great job of turning what is essentially a radio show into a full-scale theatre production, using sets, video material, puppets and real actors to impersonate the much loved Bradshaw family which he voices backstage. The story is spilt into numerous parts with Hawkins entertaining the audience during the intervals with stories on how The Bradshaws were created and to sing a chorus of funny songs. The audience are also encouraged to get involved with the show, from throwing paper planes to joining in with sing-a-longs.
The show isn’t without its flaws however. At times, the actors are out of time with the script which is a little off putting and a few sound issues during the first half of the show resulted in the audience struggling to hear Hawkins during his hilarious number EeeWellY’aveToLaughAntYer (which is all one word by the way). A late appearance by Deborah Shaw who played Audrey Bradshaw in the second half also resulted in the same song being played twice – although her hilarious ‘seductive’ performance which followed, more than made up for it.
Despite the issues above, it is clear that The Bradshaws are still as popular as ever. If you’re looking for an entertaining evening full of nostalgia and laughs, this is the show for you.
Reviewed on 12 February
Reviewer: Donna Kelly