If all Radio 4 did was broadcast little nuggets of fifteen minute comedy perfection then the combined forces of the ‘telly tax’ whingers would be easily seen off. Katherine Parkinson has appeared in two such in the past few months: co-starring with Frank Skinner in the argumentative Don’t Start and now joining “Doctor” Matt Berry in the slightly bonkers I, Regress.
In this opening episode Parkinson played Karen House-Water, a woman who is scared of water and who is thus terrified of half her name. Berry at first believes she is scared of clowns and has dressed for the occasion but then lures his patient into a watery dreamscape where she spends time with mermaids who swear a lot and plunder sunken ships, talking dolphins who advise “never trust a mermaid” and finally overcoming her fear of the sea despite learning that beautiful whale song is actually the collective scream of bite sized fish. However when she wakes she is now terrified of clowns – necessitating further visits to the good doctor.
I’ve managed to make this sound not at all funny but it is and it is a perfect example of a comedy that works particularly well on radio. Matt Berry’s booming voice, Parkinson’s tentative curiosity are complemented by an array of beeps, sploshes and crashes and its world twists and turns on darting observation. And at fifteen minutes no welcome is outstayed and nothing is stretched more than necessary.
There are three more visits to the doctor to come – a perfect cure for the new year blues.