Very Blue Peter

Wed 1st – Mon 27th August 2018

reviews

Megan Denny

at 04:39 on 17th Aug 2018

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Prepare for your childhood dreams of visiting the Blue Peter studios, taking part in the show, and meeting the presenters (and, most importantly, the dog) to come true … in the most bizarre way possible. Welcome to ‘Very Blue Peter’, a sixty minute celebration of nineties TV - with a dark side.

The plot centres around three ex-presenters of The Children’s Channel, a real-life television channel which was closed down in 1998 for "unknown reasons": as the opening voiceover states, this can all be found on Wikipedia. In writer Toby Boutall’s imagining of events, the presenters of TCC seek revenge, and hold the BBC hostage as they record this never-aired episode of Blue Peter. While this initial premise is simple, it is lost in the utter chaos of what follows, and so at points the show does seem somewhat directionless.

The show’s audience becomes the studio’s audience of school children ("well done, boys and girls!"), with crowd participation varying from the use of a water pistol, to a Harry Potter play which ends in an orgy, to Irish dancing – yes, all within the space of an hour. The word ‘anarchic’ doesn’t seem to quite cover ‘Very Blue Peter’. However, this is a precarious line to tread, and the action does sometimes stray from amusingly chaotic into simply baffling. For example, voice-overs which seem to flash-forward, looking at the episode in hindsight, disrupt the momentum of the play without adding any real comedic value.

Nevertheless, when ‘Very Blue Peter’ pitches its anarchic comedy well, it is nothing short of hilarious. Particular highlights include the story of David Beckham effigy expressed through rap and dance moves, and a reimagining of the nineties favourite Morph as ‘Morphine’.

Nostalgia is an important aspect of ‘Very Blue Peter’, as the writing includes many British TV in-jokes: from behind the ‘Creation Station’ appears a model Tracy Island, as the audience choruses "here’s one I made earlier". The three ex-presenters are perfectly written and performed to encapsulate the stereotypes adults recognise in children’s TV.

This show isn't particularly sophisticated, but also doesn't pretend to be. The best way to enjoy ‘Very Blue Peter’ is to surrender yourself to its unique combination of hilarity, chaos and nostalgia, for an hour of basic, bizarre, but undeniably fun comedy.

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Verity Kim

at 09:27 on 17th Aug 2018

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‘Very Blue Peter’ is a very weird show. I’ve been contemplating it for a while, and I feel there will be no other better description of it than that one sentence. It’s less a show and more like a trippy acid dream where nothing makes sense, yet everything is completely fascinating. It’s the type of show that makes you constantly question what is happening, yet also make you lean and say, ‘Tell me more.’

I had my reservations before going to see ‘Very Blue Peter’; the show proclaims its furiously wacky nature. It’s built on the premise that there’s a secret, absolutely insane episode of Blue Peter filmed before The Children’s Channel was closed down, and it’s exactly as crazy as it sounds. The maniacal energy of the show washes upon you as soon as you enter the studio, greeted by a half-naked man who asks you for a high-five. The entire cast works together to create an atmosphere of psychedelic madness, and their characters are instantly memorisable.

What impressed me the most was how carefully controlled the actual show was. Don’t mark me wrong, it’s absolutely out of the box, but despite being completely nonsensical the show doesn’t devolve into an unorganised mess. The use of the Blue Peter format helps create a structure around which the performance revolves, giving some form and shape to the show itself, easing you into the wackier bits.

I have to say that not all of the segments of the show were equally well-executed; there were definitely moments when it took me a while to reorient myself and figure out what was happening. I also felt that the repeated use of certain characters was less effective as the show went on, but other than a few things, I was completely immersed in this experience.

‘Very Blue Peter’ is hilariously funny, unhindered by logic or meaning; it takes a chance, completely abandoning logic in favour of chaos and pandemonium, and I have to say, it definitely pays off. If nothing else, it heavily features nudity, drugs, and swearing, so go for that. You won’t regret it.

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