The Newsagent's Window

The Newsagent's Window
Radio Times
Review by:
Eddie Mair

Here’s one of my favourite jokes, told to me by Paddy O’Connell and originating, I believe, from the great Barry Cryer. A man walks into a cake shop and asks to buy a wasp. The assistant says, “We don’t sell wasps,” and the man replies, “But you’ve got one in the window.” Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.
Which brings me nicely to The Newsagent’s Window, written and narrated by John Osborne.

It’s the engaging story of how John and a friend move into an unfurnished house, only to realise they need some furniture. Despite being the sort of people who prefer self-service tills at the supermarket in order to minimise human contact, they become enthusiastic users of the local newsagent’s window to seek out bits and bobs for their new address — a place with a garden and “a pond that rippled with a chorus of frogs”.

The script is peppered with beautiful flourishes and delivered by John with warmth. It stands out because it’s done in front of a studio audience.
It would have worked, I’m sure, as a dry read in the style of Book at Bedtime, but the programme is lifted by the audience’s appreciation of the humour and pathos that run throughout.

John asks the man who sells them beds why he advertised in a newsagent’s window rather than online. The man replies: “I hate online.” And by the end of this charming half-hour, you too might be tempted to cut your internet connection and start squinting at the little cards in your local newsagent’s window.

About this programme

Written and narrated by John Osborne. A man encounters interesting people with curious tales to tell in the local community after replying to adverts in a newsagent's window. In the process, he buys second-hand furniture for his unfurnished flat, acquires a man's entire video collection and has a massage, discovering a social network he never imagined existed and which helps him to understand more about himself.

Cast and crew

Cast

Narrator
John Osborne

Crew

Producer
Jane Berthoud
Writer
John Osborne
Categories
Comedy

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