In a musical world where bombast and boasting are as ubiquitous as Autotune I crave something a little more real, more honest – they don’t get more real than John Shuttleworth.
The elderly Sheffield creation of Graham Fellows is as perfectly crafted and detailed as Partridge and so well observed that, although there are some references younger members in the mainly middle-aged crowd might not get, it doesn’t matter as the character is the humour.
A master of making the small, well, big he can make the minutiae and mundanity of modern life seem so important and relatable. Shuttleworth’s annoyances range from having two margarine tubs open at once to the removal of cardboard support for confectionary (the wonderfully-titled Mutiny Over The Bounty). This is more than one-note musical comedy, however, and you feel a genuine warmth from and to Shuttleworth.
Out Of Our Sheds may not amount to much as a show in its own right but, like previous shows, it’s more a framework on which Fellows can hang some amusingly small-fry observations and string together his most famous tunes – Pigeons In Flight, Y Reg, Serial Cereal Eater – and musical pastiches such as Smells Like White Spirit.
Out Of Our Sheds won’t win any awards and isn’t breaking any new ground. But therein lies its appeal; it’s comfortable and warm – the fact that Shuttleworth has been a mainstay of Radio 4 for nearly two decades should come as no surprise.
To go back to the musical metaphor that opened this review, Out Of Our Sheds seems to find Shuttleworth in something of a greatest hits tour. But with hits like these, there’s nothing wrong with that.