By Jeremy Miles
Actor, author, raconteur and wit Gyles Brandreth has met them all. From Prime Ministers, to Royalty, movie stars to classical actors and social reformers.
This show finds the teddy-bear loving one-time Conservative MP using his many connections to fuel a stand-up act that is stunning in its name-dropping brilliance. As a trained classical actor, regular broadcaster and irrepressible show-off, Brandreth really couldn’t fail.
The stories were often scurrilous in the extreme but hilarious too. Some were obviously true, others simply improbably tall tales providing a platform for a well-placed joke or two. A few danced skilfully around the laws of slander and libel with a telling nudge and a wink.
So it was that Brandreth, camping it up outrageously, told stories of strange encounters with Sir Michael Redgrave and Sir John Gielgud and even stranger ones with Michael Jackson and Tony Blair.
We heard how he threw up all over Edward Heath’s trousers and John Major’s handy tip for avoiding constantly forking out for raffle tickets.
Then there was the embarrassing evening spent in the company of Her Majesty the Queen watching the gyrations of 18 naked men. The occasion was a Royal Variety Performance. Brandreth had been invited into the Royal Box because he was writing a biography of Prince Philip.
The naked men were revealed in all their gory glory during the finale of a Full Monty routine. It seems the artful lighting designed to protect the audience from seeing all worked a treat for those in the stalls but for HRH, sitting effectively above and beside the stage, nothing was concealed.
Despite having once been a member of Lord Longford’s famed Pornography Committee - an experience that involved sitting for hours viewing hardcore filth in the company of a couple Bishops and Cliff Richard - Brandreth says the experience left him quite shaken. The monarch however remained curiously unperturbed. “Don’t worry, she’s been to Papua New Guinea. She’s seen it all before,” explained the Duke of Edinburgh.