The Fast Show / Shooting Stars Live: Hammersmith Apollo, London, 1998
Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse: Legends Live! Hammersmith Apollo, London, 2015
Only Fools and Horses The Musical: Theatre Royal, Haymarket, London, 2019
Best known for the comedy series The Fast Show which he co-created with Charlie Higson and for working with Harry Enfield, I have seen Paul Whitehouse to date live twice on stage. The first time was when The Fast Show joined forced with Shooting Stars (the Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer quiz show) when the two went live together at the Hammersmith Apollo, London in 1998. After the Shooting Stars quiz anarchy for the first half, the Fast Show second half began with an announcement to an overcited huge crowd. ‘Ladies and Gentlemen welcome to The Fast Show Live. Due to the disposition of the show’s star and co-creator Mr Paul Whitehouse, unfortunately he will not be appearing tonight!’ Some of the crowd seemed very frustrated and began hurling obscenities. Then all of a sudden Whitehouse appeared on stage as character Unlucky Alf, spoke his catchphrase ‘Bugger Me!’ and ran off stage to reveal a giant wall where all the favourite characters appeared in sketches through windows. I had not really watched the show on television up until this point but with all the great characters – Suits You Sir, Roland Birkin, Jazz Club and many more, I was hooked.
Whitehouse starred some years later with Harry Enfield on tour with the 25th anniversary live show Legends Live! It was great to see live all the classic characters again created for television in particular the return of Smashey and Nicey!
Only Fools and Horses is Britain’s best loved TV comedy series. It’s creator John Sullivan began writing a musical stage version of the show before sadly passing away at the age of just 64 in 2011. Lifelong fan Whitehouse completed the script with Sullivan’s son Jim and the sitcom arrived on the West End stage when I saw it in 2019. The stories of the Trotter family of loveable rogues have become iconic in the hearts of the British public and I held my breath in trepidation as the lights went down for the show to begin. Was this going to work? Will the cast be any good as some many remember the classic performances for David Jason as Derek ‘Del Boy’ Trotter and Nicholas Lyndhurst as brother, Rodney? As soon as Tom Bennett appeared on stage the audience breathed a huge sigh of relief as Del became alive on stage. With Rodney played by Ryan Hutton and Whitehouse himself playing Grandad the stage was set for an unforgettable night of dishonest dealings and definitive moments from the series all woven together into a new storyline with songs to match. It was a very enjoyable night.
Whitehouse is a major force of modern comedy.