Gyles Brandreth - middle-aged, ex-MP, author, and Fringe show stalwart

  • The List
  • 4 August 2010

This article is from 2010.

Gyles Brandreth - middle-aged, ex-MP, author, and Fringe show stalwart

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.


Wonderland: the true story of Lewis Carroll and Isa Bowman. Michael Maloney ('Truly, Madly Deeply', 'Hamlet') stars in the world premiere of a new musical play by five star Edinburgh award-winner Gyles Brandreth and New York musical award-winner Susannah Pearce. Set in Eastbourne, Oxford and through the looking glass…

Gyles Brandreth - The One to One Show

  • 4 stars

Gyles and the stars he's met - one to one. From politics and show business to the Queen and 'Countdown', without hesitation or repetition (and just a touch of deviation) Gyles delivers a dazzling sixty minutes of wit, wordplay and hilarious name-dropping. He's previously scored multiple five-stars and won the Most Popular…

Gyles Brandreth: The One To One Show

  • 60 min

They say all political careers end in tears. In Gyles Brandreth's case it's tears of laughter as the actor, author, One Show reporter, former MP and government whip turns stand-up. This is Brandreth unleashed on the stars he's known (one-to-one) and the wicked ways of Westminster (no expenses spared). Without hesitation…


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