The Cambridge Geek

Down the Line: Lockdown Special

Down the Line did a couple of one-off specials after the last series in 2013, but nothing since 2013 itself. However, since a hell of a lot of people are still working from home, it's quite a good format to bring back.

Down the Line is a spoof call-in show, with Rhys Thomas as "the award-winning Gary Bellamy", a generally fairly inept but well-meaning radio host who takes calls from the British public, and attempts to corral them into conversation on the topic of the week. I listened to it a very long time ago, but haven't ever listened to any repeats, so it's been a case of clawing up memories that are mostly lost.

The various callers tended to be alumni of The Fast Show, though a few other people turned up as well. The same is true of this special, with a few repeat characters (I admit, I had to double check on Wikipedia). All of them, of course, are calling in to discuss Coronavirus, despite Gary's desire to discuss literally anything else.

That's rather the problem of this special. There's a few amusing standouts in this, such as the woman who feels overwhelmed by the sheer volume of bad "uplifting" poetry that the pandemic has inspired, and Higson as a virus-developing scientist who is a bit unimpressed with how this has demonstrated the troubles with his plan, but everything else is too mundane.

At this point, we're all at somewhere between seven and nine weeks of lockdown, and a lot of these have already been suggested/seen. There's the problems with people escaping to the country, or the awkward tension between the smug "winning" appearance of people claim to be expert home-schoolers, and the desires of children to escape. And the constant automatic recitation of "stay safe" got boring in real life around week two, so the satire of Gary ending every call with it now feels a bit weak.

Didn't provide me with many laughs, so wouldn't worry too much if you miss this one.

Score 3

Tagged: Radio Comedy Cast Improv Spoof