wed 19/06/2024

Jack Docherty, Soho Theatre review - warm and witty childhood memoir | reviews, news & interviews

Jack Docherty, Soho Theatre review - warm and witty childhood memoir

Jack Docherty, Soho Theatre review - warm and witty childhood memoir

Former chat show host on his David Bowie obsession

Jack Docherty had two passions as a boy - music and a girl at schoolSteve Ullathorne

For fans of a certain age the name Jack Docherty will always be associated with a very good run of chat shows on Channel 5; he was also the star of Channel 4's sketch show Absolutely and more recently the Scottish comedy Scot Squad. And now he's on the road with David Bowie & Me – Parallel Lives, a sort of memorial to lost youth but also the life-affirming joy of music.

Its title points to a pivotal moment in the performer's career but before he gets to David Bowie, Docherty describes his childhood in Edinburgh when he was obsessed with two things – music and Eleanor, a girl at school. For a long time, the smitten lad thought their shared passion for Bowie would provide the way into her affections.

Docherty comes on stage dressed in his childhood Bowie outfit (in reality an approximation made by his mum from an old bedsheet) and it sets the tone, as he is so often the butt of the jokes (it's not a spoiler to say that his music-based pursuit of Eleanor was thwarted, in the unkindest way possible). Docherty is a delightful storyteller, his reminiscences told with warmth and great wit. Describing the audience's dancing on 1970s episodes of Top of the Pops, Docherty says it was  “like being trapped at a bad wedding in Pitlochry”.

After recounting his teenage woes, which included school-based bullying and a spot of Eleanor-related petty crime, and describing his grumpy grandad – whose funeral tale is told with particular relish – we reach Docherty's late 1990s chat show, when he finally got to meet his idol.

It's a tale he tells sympathetically, of a huge star he suspected was lonely and who by then was a recovering alcoholic, and the genuine connection they made. Docherty doesn't descend into sentiment, but he reminds us to hold on to the passions of our youth, and that meeting one's heroes can turn out well.

The hour slightly loses its way towards the end with a spot of meta comedy that feels out of kilter with the rest of the show. But if you were waiting to see what purpose the 1990s shiny suit hanging at the side of the stage would serve, the payoff is worth waiting for. Oh, and the soundtrack is pretty good too.

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