Chris Eldon Lee reviews ‘Eric The Dwarf presents Christmas with the R’s’, which is available on YouTube, everywhere.
It seems that ‘baddies’ don’t really like Christmas. If you are evil, it must be a bit of a pain seeing everyone else going round with big grins on their faces, being nice to each other and offering everyone tokens of their affection.
Randolph, the wicked wizard, living alone in his chilly castle, can’t bear any of it. In a self pitying monologue, he wallows in his hatred of snow, turkey, carols, mince pies …and especially the concept of “goodwill to all men”. After all, he is a villain. So despising Christmas is in his job description.
On this uncharitable premise, Tim Baker has based his latest episode of his epic radio strip cartoon “Eric The Dwarf”. And, like an episode of Doctor Who in which the Time Lord doesn’t appear, Eric is absent from this edition of the time and space saga.
So, the baddies take centre stage in this comic groan-a-thon. But even the evil destroyer of worlds can’t get away Scott free. Randolph has to go to mummy’s for Christmas, taking his madcap henchmen Brian, Kevin and Colin with him.
Scouse Kev is the toadiest of the trio. Brian is dangerous shortly after eating sprouts (an explosion waiting to happen). And Colin has just returned from the human world where he has (almost) learnt to play charades…a game he tries to bring to the not-so-jolly party.
It’s the characterisations that create the charm. Joanna Purslow does a great Liverpuddlian accent as Kevin the wide-boy survivor (think Cilla, with edge). Nev Street is suitably stupid as his mate Brian, who is as slow as a snail on the uptake. And Emma Middlemass is playful but conscientious as the villain in temperamental leather trousers who has almost been humanised by his time in a Planet Earth secondary school. Meanwhile, Shrewsbury’s recent mayor Beverley Baker puts in a chilling Yootha Joyce type performance as Randolph’s over-demanding and chastising mother.
The music is as silly as it is satirical. Chris Smith’s latest song for the apparently legendary ‘Fred Taplock and the Funky Ferrets’ to perform is a Chas-and-Dave-cum-Goons cri de coeur about how you too can ban any sense of festivity. “I’m Getting Rid Of Christmas for Christmas” is so bad, it’s good. But Dave Cowton, the poor ukulele player, is still obliged to plead for mercy.
Like the rest of the ‘Eric The Dwarf ‘experience it’s a pastiche of a pastiche of favourite, time-honoured genres of entertainment…complete with equally time-honoured gags about how the fairy ended up on the top of the tree, and where to stick your baubles.
It’s an engaging half-hour in it’s own right. But if you share its offbeat humour, the previous twelve editions are also available for free on YouTube.