EDitorial ± 27-Sep-2012

Tim Key, Coward Or Chicken

I was going to explain to you who Tim Key is, but you lot, being highly educated ABC1s and Archers fans, may well already know. He's that bedraggled chap who sometimes has a late night poetry programme on that there Radio 4. Though his appearance may not be apparent from your wireless, even if it one of those super new DAB jobbies.

I know him (i.e. first saw him on telly) from one of Charlie Brooker's BBC4 'Wipe programmes. In between CB ranting from his sofa, this awkward bloke would appear, almost claustrophobic, to recite one of his poems in a most amateurish manner. It was great, the delivery as much as the words. Since then, he's popped up as Alan Partridge's sidekick, et cetera. Now's he doing a tour named Masterslut, "a play on Mastermind or Masterchef".

Before the show in Colchester, he's standing at the bar. Me being me, I have a little chat:

[EB] I Googled you earlier and saw you were in Cowards. That was really funny.
[TK] Thanks very much.
[EB] Shame they only made that pilot episode.
[TK] Er, we made about three, I think.
[EB] I only saw that single show on Channel 4.
[TK] Er, it was on the BBC.
[EB] Cowards. The one about the conscientious objectors. With Jonny Sweet?
[TK] Er, no, that was called Chickens. Mine was called Cowards.
[EB] Oh.

Putting that Notting Hill bookshop "Ghost" moment to one side, Mr Key, if I can call him that, does a terrific show. We learned what not to do on a first date in Pizza Express. We admired him gamely trying to fashion a work of fiction, one word at a time, from the first two rows of the audience. We enjoyed the close-ups of his risque playing cards. We held our breaths as he made full use, very cleverly, of the on-stage bath.

And as he demonstrated the painstaking creative process involved in writing a four line poem, I was laughing more than was good for me. Draft XVI? No! Draft XVII? No! He's a clever man with a touch of the Izzards: go see him.