Gyles Brandreth asserts himself as one of the country’s finest raconteurs in his latest one man show Can’t Stop Talking! Taking the stage at the Assembly Festival’s Gordon Aikman Theatre, the former MP, author and television star recounts key moments from his family-life and career in politics and showbusiness.
Gyles Brandreth has become a household name in recent years with high profile appearances as This Morning’s regular news panellist, starring on Celebrity Gogglebox, radio appearances on Just a Minute, and as a roaming reporter on The One Show. His quick-wit, mastery of the English language, and multitude of anecdotes are apparent from these appearances, but Can’t Stop Talking! is Gyles at his purest – no constraints – other than an hour runtime and much of the joy of this comes from the star bouncing from topic to topic spontaneously.
Promising a different show each performance, Gyles offers an audience member a menu half-way through the production – encouraging them to choose a conversational starter, main course and desert for the raconteur to share with the audience. These topics range from political anecdotes, royal tales, the worst moment of life, how to live until one-hundred years of age, rough sex, and lucky dip, amongst others.
The spontaneity begins quickly with the orator struck by a faulty microphone from the earliest moments of the show, yet the quick-witted star immediately finds a way to incorporate this humour into his routine until this is replaced. Delving into ageing and how he has manage to secure several pieces of ‘old codger’ work, Gyles jokingly explains how the projects that come include Best Exotic Marigold Hotel type shows, voice-overs for incontinence pad adverts, and his true goal of playing the tipped over elderly star of ‘where’s there’s a blame, there’s a claim’ style adverts. These lead into anecdotal segues into comic re-tellings of a story involving a fall in Anstruther and Guinness World Record breaking attempt to deliver the longest after-dinner speech (twelve and a half hours if you were wondering) with some amusing advice shared by the late Duke of Edinburgh.
The Royal anecdotes continue in Gyles recounting an early meeting with Queen Camilla as the performer explores his first crush. His meetings with the humourless Margaret Thatcher and the former Prime Minister’s struggle to courtesy to the late queen bring some laughs. These regal tales are fittingly delivered whilst Gyles dons his crimson red CR III jumper. Brandreth warns the audience if you’re not a fan of name-dropping, this may not be the show for you, something that continues as former Conservative MP regales us with tales of meeting all from Sex Pistol Johnny Rotten to Michael Jackson and divulges the joys of watching Naked Attraction with Dame Sheila Hancock on Celebrity Googlebox.
Tales including a traumatising incident involving the Archbishop of Canterbury and a priceless Stradivarius violin grip; whilst there is added humour from childhood insights including his sister’s demands that he was sent to boarding school due to his incessant blethering.
Audience participation comes in the form of some dictation lessons courtesy of Sir Donald Sinden with Gyles sharing his words “Vowels are for volume, consonants are for clarity” before allowing the audience to recite “Hip bath, hip bath, Lavatory, lavatory, Bidet, bidet, Douche!” The lucky dip section of the show allows for the audience to pose questions to Gyles with fan-requested topics covered being This Morning and political achievements.
Gyles is a fascinating presence, drawing the audience in with his rich storytelling ability, his positive and warm demeanour, and his sharp wit. Can’t Stop Talking! feels like an hour (and some) in the company of an old friend with Gyles having us in the palm of his hand with his charm-filled tales from his illustrious, varied career.
Gyles Brandreth Can’t Stop Talking plays as part of the Assembly Festival. You can book tickets here.