Gyles Brandreth ‘Looking for Happiness’

Gyles Brandreth
Gyles Brandreth

Grand Theatre, Lancaster

As the curtains opened, the stage was bare apart from a table at the side on which were placed several books and a bottle of water.

As his name was announced, Gyles Brandreth strode into view, beaming mischievously and dressed in a bright yellow costume with a conical hat and bells.

“Who better to look for happiness than a court jester?’ he asked as the laughter subsided.

Shortly afterwards, he removed the garment to reveal a pair of black tights and matching T-shirt, to whistles from the ladies in the audience, and proceeded to tell a story of how Frank Sinatra waited in the wings to go on stage wearing his boxer shorts.

As he spoke, Gyles donned a shirt and slacks, a la Sinatra, and continued his account of his quest for happiness, explaining what made other people of his acquaintance happy.

These included The Queen and Prince Philip, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Elton John and Kenneth Williams.

Always one to drop a name, good for a gossip and a master of the anecdote, told in more voices than Mike Yarwood ever possessed, Gyles had the audience in fits of laughter for the whole of the 90-minute show.

He involved the audience too, bringing on stage a gentleman who admitted he was a policeman.

“I see you’ve come in your pirate’s uniform,” observed Gyles, gesticulating to the man’s jeans and T-shirt.

The man had to do an impression of an oak tree.

Later, his wife was brought up: “Now, you are 18 aren’t you Tracey?”

To the audience: “When you work for the BBC, you can’t be too careful these days.”

Amidst all the joviality, he gave us the “Seven Secrets of Happiness” as suggested by his late psychiatrist friend, the late Dr Anthony Clare and they made very good sense and you realised that behind all Gyles Brandeth’s self-deprecation and joking, there is a serious and highly intelligent mind.

At the end, he had eveyone in the audience standing up to do the Hokey Cokey and the long queues to buy signed copies of his book at the end of the show were a testimony to the success of the event.

Ron Ellis