Liam Rudden: Why John could never be jilted

John Shuttleworth. Pic: Comp
John Shuttleworth. Pic: Comp
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OOFT! Witty ditties, shrewd observations and a Yamaha keyboard. It can only mean one thing, John Shuttleworth is back in the Capital, the easy rapport of his creator once again confirming Graham Fellows is one of the country’s finest character comedy performers.

Shuttleworth, I have to admit, never fails to make me laugh. At the Queen’s Hall, last week, I watched this bumbling raconteur, who hails from a far more innocent age, prove the ideal tonic.

Gentle, bonkers, surreal and absurd, he meandered his way through a ‘greatest hits’ set. All the familiar stories and songs popping up, just as expected, his faithful fans lapping them up.

Looking around, it was plain to see that despite his choice to eschew TV in recent years in favour of radio, Fellows still commands a loyal following - well he has been playing this character for three decades now.

And what a diverse crew they are too. It’s not just Radio 4 listeners. No, there are youngsters, families, and a boozed-up team of 50-something ‘lads’ who know every word of every song.

John Shuttleworth: A Wee Ken To Remember (currently touring) features names that will be more than familiar to anyone who has ever dropped into Shuttleworth’s world. Mary, his wife, their teenage children Darren and Karen, Ken Worthington, his neighbour and sole agent, and Mary’s friend Joan Chitty all get a mention.

They all thrive in a gloriously domesticity in which the biggest dilemma facing John can be as simple as the choice of fleece over cagoule, or the disappearance of Swarfega and the likes in favour of pump action liquid soap dispensers.

It’s all incredibly silly stuff, charming and never offensive, yet delivered with a sincere conviction that demonstrates Fellows is far more than a comedian, he’s actually an incredibly skilled actor.