Podcast Review: Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast with Bob Mortimer

Richard Herring

Richard Herring’s new series of podcasts kicks off with an illuminating chat with Bob Mortimer. This time round Herring has had funding from a Kickstarter campaign but don't panic, apart from a plug for his sponsor (hello Duncan Thorley of Maximum Whimsy) at the start and a few namechecks at the end it doesn’t feel remotely like a corporate sell-out.

Production values are no different either. This is basically two men talking onstage and being funny. As ever, Herring mixes the daft with the probing, getting some great anecdotes out of Mortimer along with some stupidly silly ones too.

As anyone who heard Mortimer on Chain Reaction earlier this year will know, the Kevin Spacey-lookalike is much, much easier to interview than Vic Reeves, who can go off at tangents that are impossible to respond to. Herring actually manages to have a proper conversion with Mortimer about everything from the early days of Vic and Bob to terrorism and the pointlessness of Calgon.

I wrote a book about Vic and Bob with their co-operation and there is plenty here that I didn’t extract from them. I’d completely overlooked a radio series Mortimer hosted in around 1992 called Bob Says Who. Herring remembers it, describing it as a bit like an embryonic Shooting Stars, but then that’s understandable as he and Stewart Lee worked on it. 

There’s a fair bit about Bob’s childhood in Middlesbrough as Herring has Middlesbrough connections too, before the podcast gets on to the future comic’s time as a lawyer. Herring asks him if he could do his conveyancing for him. “I probably could, but you wouldn’t necessarily own the house if that bothers you.”

As ever, Bob’s memory of how he started working with Vic back in the mid-to-late 1980s is vague but rings true. Bob recalls going along to a gig in a south London pub that was really just Vic entertaining his mates sitting round a table. At one point he got up onstage to present Vic with something: “I gave him a cheque for the work he'd done for really hungry kids.” The rest is showbiz history.

Mortimer’s career has now lasted over a quarter of a century so there is plenty to talk about and it would be much better to listen rather than read my synopsis. There’s good stuff about the long-forgotten primetime series Families at War, Vic’s resemblance to Peter Sutcliffe in Catterick and the full story of Mortimer’s involvement in the brief craze for celebrity boxing with the likes of Ricky Gervais and Les Dennis.

There are plenty more revelations here too. Discussing the forthcoming tour Bob plans to stay in a Holiday Inn while Vic plans to sleep at the venue in a Caravelle. Oh, and according to Mortimer Semtex looks exactly like the outside of a fig roll. As I said at the start, illuminating. 

Watch or download the audio version here.

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