Births, Deaths and Marriages (3 stars)

Births, Deaths and Marriages

New radio sitcom from Alan Partridge regular David Schneider

The old triumvirate of hatch, match and dispatch will surely prove fertile for the big comedic brain of David Schneider as he launches his new radio sitcom. Set in a Local Register Office, chief registrar Malcolm Fox (not Ian Rankin’s post-Rebus crimestopper, but the lad Schneider himself) is a bundle of insecurities which crank him up towards neurotic overload.

Having been given an impromptu psychic reading, he feels that it might be time to take more risks; at first this means deviating from his regular sandwich filling (tuna mayonnaise) but eventually has him popping up onto a rollercoaster to pronounce a pair as wedded. His emotional predicaments are not helped by a staff who would test the steeliest resolve. Luke (Russell Tovey) is a little too excited by almost everything (though he was given a pass by Malcolm when he discovered a doughnut shaped like Princess Anne); Lorna (Sarah Hadland) has an eye on Malcolm’s job and is on an austerity drive which involves cramming in as many ceremonies into one day as humanly impossible; ditzy Anita (Sandy McDade) has a heart of gold but can’t help getting everything all muddled up.

Even more so than TV, the characters in a radio comedy have to jump out at us and can often be so vividly drawn as to be almost post-caricature. Fortunately, the experienced Schneider (you’ll probably have seen him on Alan Partridge’s various shows as BBC commissioning editor Tony Havers and as himself on the odd Newsnight Review/Review Show malarkey) keeps things reasonably restrained and ticking over nicely in a way that only a Radio 4 morning sitcom can.

Radio 4, Fri 25 May, 11.30am.

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