The Cambridge Geek

A Book at Bathtime

Way back when, Radio 4 did a series called Paperback Hell. It is ostensibly selected readings from chapters of best-selling novels, covering a wide range of different genres and styles. Of course, each chapter is entirely fictional, both in the usual manner, but also that these are spoofs, intended to point out and play with the various tropes to be found in romance/horror/misery porn etc. An excellent series, and one they could probably re-visit for a bit of updating.

A Book at Bathtime has similarities to that, with the book to be read being an erotica spoof called Dusty Passages, by Malcolm Throbbswell. What separates this show from Paperback Hell, however, is that while Hell was read straight, as if cut out from an audiobook, this is presented as a live reading.

The readers are Jon Holmes and Jake Yapp, who recorded this sat in a bath together.

Yes, really, in the bath.


Which means that the reading is frequently interrupted by their comments about style, flow, how quickly it can get to the mucky bits, and who has to have the tap end. If I'd ever listened to My Dad Wrote A Porno, I might be able to compare it to that, but I haven't, so I can't.

It sounds like the two of them had a marvellous time making it, chuckling loudly about the difficulties of fitting into a bath together, and how badly Holmes can mangle a character's accent (though definitely not Chinese). Unfortunately, I enjoyed it rather less, I think because the additional chat is only occasionally amusing. Don't know if that was scripted or improv, but tended to fall flat for me.

Similarly, the book itself doesn't have quite the same panache as those from Paperback Hell, over-relying on poor metaphor, and tending to open with a repeat version of the joke about the self-insert author. It's okay, but I think I'm more likely to go back to PH than revisit this.

Score 3

Tagged: Radio Comedy Two hander Fiction Spoof