Driving time

Louis checks in with the BBC’s old stalwarts, Radio 1 and 2

This is probably preaching to the converted, but I commend to you all Bob Mortimer’s Desert Island Discs (available on BBC Sounds), a delightful 45 minutes with a sweet and funny man. I know people who don’t go a bundle on his work with Vic Reeves, but love his bizarre yarns on Would I Lie To You?. Few who have heard him tell the story of Chris Rea cracking an egg into his bathwater have emerged unchanged. 

Mortimer describes himself as fundamentally shy, which seems surprising for someone who does comedy with such gusto, but as could be heard here, Mortimer is a gentle soul. Introducing On My Way by Free, he told the story of how an ex-girlfriend ‘copped off’ with singer Paul Rodgers’ brother Jake, rendering My Brother Jake unlistenable. He also chose Some Fantastic Place by Squeeze, a gorgeous song I can’t even think of without my eyes welling up. 

One very endearing thing was the warmth with which he spoke of his comedy partner, Jim Moir, aka Reeves. They’ve been together for 30-odd years, and they live near each other and get together to write nearly every day. There’s no Sunshine Boys rancour there. The partnership is based on the sort of love and respect that underpinned Eric and Ernie. 

With Moir and Mortimer, you get the sense that even if they weren’t on TV or radio (and they’re not on either anywhere near enough for my money), they would be like this anyway, the best of friends, making stuff up just to amuse each other. It’s the way their brains are wired. It’s how they are. It’s not really an act. It’s lovely. 

Incidentally, Lauren Laverne is doing a grand job standing in for Kirsty Young. I’m missing Young’s sternness occasionally, but a difference of approach is no disgrace.

By Louis Barfe

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