July 9th, 2018


The Impossible Dream

The Penny Dreadfuls are a trio of blokes who write and perform comedy shows based on great works of literature (in other words, Peak Radio 4).

I'd very much enjoyed their take on the Odyssey and one about John le Carré, so when I got a BBC Tickets and Tours email to say they were doing Don Quixote, one of my favourite books, I applied for tickets immediately. Soon afterwards, I got an email to say I'd been successful.

Imagine my joy, then, when the Dreadfuls announced on Twitter that their special guest stars would include Sylvester McCoy playing Don Quixote.

The recording was last night, and it was well worth queueing up in the heat outside Broadcasting House for.

A lot of the humour was based around 'ha ha, nobody has really read Don Quixote', which made me WELL, ACTUALLY to myself a bit. That said, it was a very funny script that managed to make some serious contemporary points and present both Don Quixote and Sancho Panza as sympathetic characters, while sticking pretty closely to the plot and spirit of the original.

The cast was fantastic and Sylvester McCoy just lovely, constantly pulling funny faces and doing little bits of Business. My companion and I spent a lot of time in whispered discussion of how very huggable he was. (He got noticeably more Scottish during the retakes, by the way, with some of his Rs lasting several seconds.)

It turns out that one of McCoy's many music hall talents is the ability to burp on demand, so we had a bit of that.

"They never made you do that when you were in Doctor Who, did they?" said the producer.

"They didn't let me."

I'm only sorry he didn't play the spoons for us. I'm sure he would have done given the slightest excuse.