Review – David Baddiel – My Family: Not the Sitcom, Menier Chocolate Factory

Monday 16 May 2016


Good title. You really would want to make the distinction that you really were nothing to do with that sitcom.

But you might ask what first attracted Phil to David Baddiel My Family: Not the Sitcom which is basically a stand up show?

Phil read David Baddiel‘s funny and moving account of his father’s dementia in the Sunday Times Magazine. And Phil saw parallels; both his parents have dementia, Dad in a nursing home (when he’s not effecting an escape), Mum still in her own home but needs attention.

As upsetting as dementia is, it’s certainly released an otherwise untapped and unrestrained sense of humour in Phil’s dad.

Phil: Dad, name something beginning with ‘P’.

Dad: Pass.
Perhaps I should spell that with an ‘i’. Piss!

Or as he surveyed at the heavily tattooed arm of a worker in his care home.

Dad: Oh, you’ve got a very dirty arm.

Baddiel’s show – illustrated with photographs and film – is a “massively disrespectful celebration” of his late mother Sarah and still-alive father Colin who suffers from a rare form of dementia, Pick’s disease, which leads to inappropriate sexual behaviour.

Before the interval we get tales about his mother. She sounds quite a character or a bit of a pain in the arse, possibly a combination of both. Her inappropriate sexual behaviour doesn’t appear to be from Pick’s disease. Post interval appears, at first, to be about Baddiel’s father, but Sarah’s story comes back and takes over which is probably appropriate as he makes clear she was quite an attention-seeker.

The idea of one’s parents being so sexual is not something most of us want to think about. Baddiel presumably got used to and wants to share. It’s as hilarious as some of it is shocking.

Mind you, Phil feared family skeleton’s were about to be unearthed a couple of months ago when his mother, trying to persuade Phil’s sister not to make a late night car journey to follow an ambulance taking Dad to hospital with a series of sound reasons why she should not make the journey, finally adding, “It’s not as if he’s your father!”

Phil’s father recently appeared to be offering advice on the subject:

Dad: You’ve got to be careful who you get into bed with because of the bugs and the bees.

Phil: What does that mean?

Dad: (throwing his arms in the air) Oh, I don’t know. They’re just words.

And on another occasion watching a rather substantial nurse tending another resident:

Dad: She’d be quite a handful in bed.

This was a preview and, like Baddiel’s attire, still a bit rumpled around the edges but Baddiel makes clear that as were seeing it relatively cheaply it’s a work in progress, even soliciting the audience as to whether to keep a particular section on how we see our mental age by the year that we think comes after Barry Norman and co’s TV Film programme. For the record Phil thought of Film ’77 which means he thinks his age is still.. ah, that would be telling. Confused? A lot of the audience seemed to be and voted to bin it.

Phil’s father usually knows how old he is when he asks him. But another recent interchange when thus:

Phil: How old are you Dad?

Dad: I’m 80.

Phil: No you’re a bit older than that. In 12 years time you’ll be 100. So how old does that make you now?

Dad: Too old.

Dad was in the sitting room of the home with about half a dozen people around him in far worse mental and physical condition than him and continued…

Dad: I don’t want to live to be a hundred. (Surveying the room and announcing) Who wants to live to be a hundred? (suitable theatrical pause) See. No one put their hand up.

If Baddiel’s show sounds as if it might be depressing, it’s not. He’s an amiable raconteur and keeps the funny stories and surprises coming. Reassuringly hating people telling him of things they’ve done that suggest they think they’re developing Alzheimer’s. Don’t most of us of a certain age do it? Despite this Baddiel shares his own story of something dementia-worthy he did with his laundry basket.

He may have a laundry basket but does Baddiel possess an iron?



One Response to “Review – David Baddiel – My Family: Not the Sitcom, Menier Chocolate Factory”

  1. Sal Says:

    Very moving. Just sending wishes for strength and endurance with these challenges —

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: