John Finnemore’s Flying Visit at the Preston Guild Hall Review

21 May 2018


Reviewed by Jan Mellor

I had no idea what John Finnemore was all about, but my friend was an avid friend and persuaded me that I would enjoy it. The Guild Hall was packed, and all members of the audience showed great anticipation and excitement to see the star of Radio 4 and his full cast of the Souvenir Programme show. The show started with John introducing his cast on a giant screen, with each individual spinning round then coming onto the stage – we had the performers Lawry Lewin, Simon Kane, Margaret Cabourn-Smith and Carrie Counlan who by the rapturous applause they received were all very well known to the elated audience.

And so, the sketches began – John had the audience imitating buzzers, happy dogs and sad dogs for the clever sketch on Pavlov’s dog, we had the cast in paper masks of the royal family planning a robbery, a one truth/one lie sketch, the Merlin sketch, the red trousers sketch’ n’ song and finally the pirates who couldn’t say the letter ‘P’ – (this was highly amusing). The audience roared with laughter as these sketches were obviously infamous in the world of a radio 4 listener. The second act had sketches that included the brilliant goldfish with no memory, the 862 dogs, the dog sledge and the quest for the ‘note’ and ending in a remarkable song as an ‘Ode to Preston’ which was unique and clever and had all the audience singing in adoration and glee.

I must say as someone who did not know of these people or their work they are famous for it was an enjoyable evening. The humour was refreshing, uncrude and quite ‘python-ish’ in its content and delivery. The cast delivered all the sketches that the audience yearned for, and as they left many were heard to say, ‘that was fantastic!’. The show was a brave concept – to foster a radio programme (that is currently being rerun) and transfer this live on stage. My friend thought that although she preferred the radio shows that it was a valiant effort and I did agree with her. The performance was delivered very well, with great talent and timing and has left me wanting to rush home and listen to more of John Finnemore and his gang on the radio as soon as I can.

An enjoyable evening with great performances by the whole cast. A must see for John Finnemore followers.

An impressive high-flying performance!

Rating: 4/5

John Finnemore’s Flying Visit is currently on tour around the UK, for more information and tour dates visit

For other shows at the Preston Guild Hall visit or call the box office on 01772 804444.

The Guild Hall & Charter Theatre, Lancaster Road, Preston, PR1 1HT | 01772 804444

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