John Shuttleworth review: a perfectly pitched show

John Shuttleworth. Picture: Supplied by Norwich Playhouse

John Shuttleworth. Picture: Supplied by Norwich Playhouse - Credit: Supplied by Norwich Playhouse

The versatile singer-songwriter from Sheffield, South Yorkshire, is back – with a bad back.

It's all because he's been banished to the garage by his wife, Mary, to practice his keyboard playing, perched on a crate of Diet Sprite.

It's the first time that Graham Fellows has been out on the road as John Shuttleworth since 2017's 'farewell' tour, My Last Will and Tasty Mint.

And - "oof" - there is big news in Shuttleworth's world - and it's not just that he's bought some new slip-on shoes. His sole agent Ken Worthington (who came last in New Faces in 1973) has got him a gig in Chapel-en-le-Frith in the Peak District, but his faithful Austin Ambassador Y-Reg might not be up to tackling the 1:3 gradient.

He's had his eye on a Daewoo - and he's also been coveting his wife Mary's friend Joan Chitty's Citroen Berlingo. Could a trade-in be on the cards?

So the sold-out Playhouse was treated to a joyful two hours in Shuttleworth's company as he meandered through the mundane in his inimitable style to a Bossa Nova beat.

As ever there are aspects of the modern world that leave him baffled. Why aren't environmentalists trying to save Abbey Crunch biscuits from extinction? Why are cafetieres so popular? He's given up and has gone back to Mellow Birds. What is the correct pronunciation of Pilates?

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Then there's Shuttleworth's charming eternal optimism that one day he might become a songwriter for hire, performing numbers that might fit into Mike and the Mechanics and Chris Rea's repertoires. One song he declared "a bit Kate Bush", and a keyboard mishap "suitable for Radio 3 late at night".

The perfectly pitched show finished with a medley of his 'greatest hits' - Two Margarines (two margarines on the go - it's a nightmare scenario), How's Your Nan?, Smells Like White Spirit, I Can't Go Back to Savoury Now and ending with Pigeons in Flight.

And the good news is that John Shuttleworth's Back will be back at Norwich Playhouse again on April 14.

- Tickets to see John Shuttleworth on April 14 are available for £18.50 from Norwich Theatre's website or via the Box Office on 01603 630000