The fall from grace of former Tory MP Neil Hamilton in the ‘cash for questions’ affair is now such ancient history and eclipsed by so many greater political scandals that there must be an entire generation of audience who know him only as a foil to the ebulliently bossy stage persona of his wife, like a shambling Johnnie Cradock pouring drinks and dancing attendance on Christine’s larger-than-life and massively voluble Fanny.
For all their attention-seeking Z-list celebrity silliness, this is an entirely benign and downright enjoyable hour, but it is firmly The Christine Show and her fizzing enthusiasm for anyone and anything that crosses her path is infectious and engaging.
Today they conveniently overlooked Neil’s former support for Clause 28 and welcomed Four Poofs and a Piano – nearly Four Poofs and a Dole Queue following the sudden axing of the Jonathan Ross show which made their name – and after a downbeat moment of shared bitterness at how badly they had all been treated, launched into an amusing quartet about how TV castings now infect major musicals. It felt closely derived from Forbidden Broadway but the mature audience lapped it up.
The purpose of the Hamiltons’ slot is to act as a trailer for other talents, and American comedian and occasional rock guitarist Hal Sparks surely deserves a bigger audience for his bone-dry wit, some of which went right over Christine’s blonde highlights although she gamely played along.
There’s a climactic audience-participation finale of “Land of Hope and Glory” in which Christine comes dangerously close to stepping into the shoes of Dame Hilda Bracket, but when the show has such warmth, kindness and generosity as this, who can’t forgive a little flag-waving jingoism?
- Johnny Fox