Gyles Brandreth - middle-aged, ex-MP, author, and Fringe show stalwart
- The List
- 4 August 2010
This article is from 2010
He recounts some of his favorite Fringe moments
British author-cum-broadcaster-cum-Fringe show stalwart Gyles Brandreth talks about the highs and lows of his festival fortunes.
Edinburgh is a parallel universe. We do things differently here. I was a middle-aged, ex-MP with a tragic comb-over and a roomful of woolly jumpers until I discovered the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The experience changed me forever. It does.
I first came here in 2001 with a show called Zipp!. We performed 90 musicals in 90 minutes. We gave you the complete works of Andrew Lloyd Webber in one hundred seconds. On a good day, we managed it in 85. At one point in the show, I did a sequence that called for suspenders and fishnet tights. I used to put them on in my flat at the beginning of the day – and then I looked out of the window and caught sight of the old lady in the flat opposite watching me. I was so embarrassed – until she flashed me a thumbs up.
In Edinburgh, in August, anything goes. You can have breakfast where you want, when you want, with whom you like – no questions asked. When I was last here I got my head shaved (on the advice of Steven Berkoff: ‘Lighten up, Gyles’) and fell in love with a girl from The Guardian. (The Guardian, for God’s sake! It may seem like nothing to you, but for a Tory ex-MP it’s A Big Deal.)
This is my third Fringe and my favourite haunts remain the same: the bar in the Assembly Rooms on George Street (for the quality thespian crowd), a bench in the Pleasance Courtyard (for the sunshine and the stand-ups), and the launderette in Raeburn Place. In London, the launderettes are dead. In Edinburgh at Fringe-time they buzz. The last time I went to wash my tights in Raeburn Place I found a group called The Lipstick Lesbians performing a musical Macbeth with marionettes. I kid you not. Only in Edinburgh in August.
Gyles Brandreth appears in The One to One Show at Pleasance One, daily, 4.30pm; his play, Wonderland, is on at the Assembly Rooms, George Street, daily, at 1.45 pm.