- Peggy Hughes
- 7 August 2008
This article is from 2008.
The King of deadpan says what he sees
The crappy pixels. Mr Chips. The triumphal opening strains and the arrangements accompanying each clue. Who could forget Catchphrase, one of the most durable game shows of its generation, as famous for all of the above as for host Roy Walker's own memorable patter: 'say what you see', 'keep pressing and guessing!' With an impressive comedy career under his belt before hosting that show for 14 years, Walker is making his Fringe debut with Goodbye Mr Chips, a symbol of his cult resurrection thanks to Chris Moyles' fond Radio 1 tribute, 'Car Park Catchphrase'.
At 68-years-old, he receives a legend's welcome. Sharply besuited in pinstripes, his shock of white hair as luxurious as ever, he is plainly delighted to be here. Entering to that famous voice-over ('your host for tonight is Royyyy Walker!'), to a stage excitingly replete with the Catchphrase board, the bounce in his stride belies his oft wooden presence on camera. He is though, as ever, the consummate host: comfortable, genial and gentlemanly.
His opening banter comprises miscellaneous yarns, ever the storyteller, before segueing into remembrances of things past in the form of a slide show. His upbringing in war-torn Belfast, scrapes and subsequent rise to game-show stardom are interesting and smattered with gentle funnies, but such trips down memory lane are a tad self-indulgent and slow the pace. A round of Catchphrase ensues to the joy of all, with prizes aplenty. Languorous pauses, soft-spoken tones and air of astounded humility, Roy Walker's comedy is old school and gentle. Say what you see? A man living the dream who couldn't fail to charm if he tried.
Assembly Rooms, 623 3030, until 25 Aug (not 16), 6pm, £12.50–£15 (£11.50–£14).