The cast of Very Blue Peter tell us that this is the weirdest show you’ll see at The Fringe this year, and I think they could be right. With a slot that straddles two days they know they are catering for an audience who are either very drunk, very tired, or both, and they certainly make the most of it.
The ‘plot’, which is quite a loose term, is actually rather plausible, especially for a conspiracy theory lover like me. We are supposedly watching an unaired episode of Blue Peter, where the audience have been held hostage by three former presenters of The Children’s Channel who are aggrieved at the sudden closure of their channel. That last bit is true, you can Google it. And the reason we’ve never heard that this happened is because it was covered up with Richard Bacon’s coke problem and subsequent firing.
So here we are in the BBC Studios, watching an episode of Blue Peter that never made it to air. JK Rowling is insulted, cannabis is grown in the Blue Peter garden, and there’s even a ‘one they made earlier’. It’s bonkers! Each night a different fringe show get to make a guest appearance, audience members play a big role, as does a man in a morph suit, if you’re not drunk when you arrive, you’ll wish you were.
But despite the craziness and complete lack of anything that resembles traditional theatre, I just couldn’t help loving it. A big part of this is down to the cast, which on the night I saw it had a last-minute replacement in the form of James Tobin, who absolutely did not let the team down. I don’t quite know how they manage to have so much energy at that time of night, but it’s what makes the show, I was exhausted but still found myself laughing, cheering and generally having a brilliant time.
Is Very Blue Peter the weirdest thing you’ll see at the fringe? Well, four years ago I had to stand like a tree for an hour while a woman from Wolverhampton hopped around my legs pretending to be a frog; it’s not as weird as that, but it is certainly a lot more enjoyable.