The Best of Barry

by Louis Barfe

Plundering and repurposing the archives for humorous effect has been a recurring theme in recent Radio 4 comedy. At Christmas there was the superb just a minute special assembled by Gareth Gwynn, followed by My Dream Dinner Party, and now we have Matt Berry Interviews... (Wednesdays, 11pm, available on iPlayer). If you’re unaware of Berry by name, you’ll probably know his voice. He plays washed-up 1970s actor and voiceover man Steven Toast in the glorious Channel 4 sitcom Toast of London, and he does all of the station idents for absolute radio. He also co-created a series of filthy but hilarious spoof wildlife films for BBC iPlayer with Bob Mortimer, having worked with him on Vic and Bob’s House of Fools as sleazy neighbour Beef. Berry has a way of overegging the pronunciation of certain words that has been known to make me almost swallow my tongue laughing. That happened a good few times in the opener to the series, which purported to be a 1974 chat with ‘conjuror Uri Geller’. Geller hates such terms, and I approve of Berry’s usage. Geller’s contributions were from a real interview, with Berry editing himself in skilfully. The way Berry said Geller’s name, ‘crackers’ and ‘Israel’ are well worth hearing. Berry’s also a talented musician and Geller’s song, Eat Eat Eat, Vomit Vomit Vomit, was a bizarre masterpiece, as were the supposed Brian Eno tunes he provided the following week. Berry asked archive Eno if by ‘crude instruments’ he meant ‘lavatorial’. Berry’s humour tends that way, rather joyously, as the sound effect of Geller rubbing a key to bend it makes obvious. There’s also the story of Geller being attacked by a ghost who was a cross between Guy Fawkes and Ronald McDonald. I won’t spoil it all for you. If you like silly and you’re not easily offended, you’ll love it.