Review: Nicholas Parsons Happy Hour (rating 4/5)
Nicholas Parsons is a Fringe institution with his Happy Hour show returning to the Cabaret Bar at the Pleasance for the 17th consecutive year and still playing to sell-out audiences.
You don’t achieve that kind of run by novelty value alone. Parsons knows he has a winning formula and sticks to it to bring the audiences back to his teatime chat show year after year.
Of course, the success of any chat show is partly down to the guests, and tonight Parsons is aided and abetted by Christopher Biggins, Australian cabaret star Michaela Burger, and Ian Shaw, son of actor Robert Shaw. All of them have shows to promote. Shaw is a writer, and one of three actors in The Shark is Broken, a play set at the time his father was filming Jaws. Burger is playing Edith Piaf in Exposing Edith and Biggins has his own chat show Late Lunch with Biggins at Pleasance Dome.
It’s with Biggins that Parsons has the greatest rapport, ribbing him about appearing on Happy Hour last year and copying the format this year, before the two reflect on their time in touring versions of the Rocky Horror Show, another thing their CVs have in common, and talk about the different reasons why they have walking sticks.
In many ways Biggins seems like Graham Norton to Parsons’ Terry Wogan and their relaxed conversation is more like a private conversation between two friends than a modern-day chat show.
This in another part of the charm of Happy Hour. It’s not a hard sell for any shows, as each of the guests settle into the gentle pace and its jokes and reminiscences quickly make the hour effortlessly fly by. It’s worked well for 17 years, and with Parsons clearly still enjoying it, here’s hoping it returns for an 18th.
Pleasance Courtyard Cabaret Bar, 2 to 11 August (not 6th and 7th)