Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

A comic odyssey

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Natalie Hale chats to the Tardis-loving comedian Toby Hadoke

Climb aboard Toby Hadoke's Tardis on a trip through time, charting the rise, fall and subsequent rise of television legend Doctor Who.

Award-winning comedian Hadoke takes you on a personal odyssey through one man's obsession with a TV show, and his disillusionment with today's "new" fans.

Sharp, satirical, poignant and ultimately uplifting, this show appeals across the board, even to people without intimate knowledge of Time Lords and Tetraps.

Hadoke's touching, ingenious and hilarious show was one of the hits of last year's Edinburgh Festival, and now visits the Theatre Royal Bath as part of a successful national tour.

Hadoke has been performing stand-up and running the comedy club XS Malarkey, in Manchester, for a decade. But it took the recent resurgence of the Doctor Who series for him to be able to step out of his Tardisshaped closet and take a show to the Edinburgh Festival.

"I'd been a comic for 10 years, but had never been to the Edinburgh Festival," Toby tells me. "Then I had this idea for a show ...

"I was chucking some stuff out and came across an old Doctor Who scarf, which had been eaten by moths, and I thought 'Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf' would make a great title for a show.

"So I decided to take the bull by the horns and do a show last year. When most comics do a one-man show at Edinburgh, they just do an extended version of their set. I wanted to do something special and written to order.

"I started working on it fairly early - a good eight or nine months before the festival. I work a lot of clubs in Manchester as well as running my own club, so I had lots of time to try out bits and bobs, so it was a fully-formed show by the time I took it to Edinburgh.

"I'm glad I did it that way as I had a lot of reviewers in on the first night, which is normally the spell of doom, but I did pretty well and had some really nice reviews."

Toby is keen to point out that the show is not just for fans of the sci-fi series.

"You don't have to be a Doctor Who fan to enjoy the show. It's not a geeky Doctor Who fest - it's a personal story about growing up without a dad and having Doctor Who fill that void, and then Doctor Who going away, only to reappear once I had become a dad. It's about relationships, and I hope people can identify with that whether they've seen Doctor Who or not.

"In Edinburgh, there were older mums and dads dragged along to some of my shows because their offspring were Doctor Who fans. I could see them sat there at the beginning thinking 'God, this is going to be tiresome', but by the end of it the dads were laughing at the political jokes and the mums were crying at the sad bits. Not many standup shows can boast the fact that they can make people cry."

Moths has recently been bought by BBC7, and is set to be converted into a radio show some time in the summer.

"A BBC producer, who had never actually seen Doctor Who, came to see my show and said he'd like to broadcast a recording of it.

"However, since then things have changed and we're now doing it as a comedy drama with characters and actors. So I'm having to all but re-write the whole thing.

"It's harder than I thought it would be and I'm still working on it. I've got until the end of the month to get the first draft in - which is rather daunting. It's good that I'm getting the opportunity to do something new though."

Toby first dabbled in stand-up comedy while studying English and drama at Manchester University.

"The plan was to be an actor, and after my degree I thought I'd be off to drama school in London," he explains. "But by that point I had already got involved in stand-up because a friend of mine had set up a comedy night and asked me to give it a go. It went well, and I got more involved in it.

"After that, someone I knew asked me to put a comedy night on in their pub, which I thought would be a one-off, but XS Malarkey ran and ran and will be celebrating its 10th birthday this September."

Toby is the regular compere at the award-winning XS Malarkey Comedy Club, which he runs on a non-profit-making basis. Acts who have played there include Peter Kay, Dave Spikey, Jimmy Carr and Reginald D Hunter. The club also gave early breaks to Alan Carr, Justin Moorhouse and Jason Manford.

In addition to compereing, Toby has long been a highly-regarded comedian in his own right, appearing regularly at The Comedy Store and The Frog And Bucket in Manchester. He also won the inaugural Les Dawson Award for Services To Comedy at the 2003 Manchester Comedy Festival, beating a shortlist including Peter Kay, Johnny Vegas, Caroline Ahearne and Ken Dodd.

However, Toby hasn't completely abandoned his acting roots. His TV appearances include Phoenix Nights, Coronation Street and Shameless.

He has trodden the boards with The Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, The Dukes Theatre, Lancaster, and Opera North. He has also written for The Guardian and The Independent and is a frequent broadcaster on BBC Radio.

"I'm an actor/comedian/writer/broadcaster/ voice-over artist," he laughs. "You have to be a Jack of all trades in this game.

"A lot of comics have a day job, but fortunately for me, my day job is writing, acting and doing voice-overs, which lends itself quite well to the stand-up life.

"I don't think I could do a nine-to-five job, because I like the fact that no two days are the same.'"

Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf appears at The Egg, Theatre Royal Bath, on Friday and Saturday, March 16 and 17. Tickets cost £11 (£8 concessions) - call

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  • APA 6th ed.: Hale, Natalie (2007-03-15). A comic odyssey. Bristol Post p. 70.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Hale, Natalie. "A comic odyssey." Bristol Post [add city] 2007-03-15, 70. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Hale, Natalie. "A comic odyssey." Bristol Post, edition, sec., 2007-03-15
  • Turabian: Hale, Natalie. "A comic odyssey." Bristol Post, 2007-03-15, section, 70 edition.
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