This is my review from today’s Nottingham Post.
‘Somebody said to me this week, “Dan, you’ve broke the internet.” I said, “I wish somebody fucking would.’
There have been better weeks to be Danny Baker. On Wednesday night, he tweeted a photo that, however intended, came over as a vile racist gag. He deleted the tweet as soon as he realised what he’d so casually done, later describing it as a ‘crass and regrettable blunder’. The worst day of his life followed.
No apology could save his BBC job. Tonight, at his first show since being sacked, the question is whether he can save his reputation. He’s had a few nights to think about it. Will he address the elephant in the room right off the bat?
He must have been tempted to cancel, but, at twenty-five to eight, he comes on and, for five minutes, apologises unreservedly for the ‘horrible’ tweet.
‘Here’s the thing. It’s all my own fault… I’m sorry and thanks for coming.’
Then he goes off and comes back out wearing his fez.
‘It’s great to get back to one of the few jobs I still have.’
There’ll be references to his sacking throughout the show but they lessen when he hits his stride. The first hour is a recap of his previous show and first autobiography (basis of hit TV series, Cradle to the Grave). He paces the stage occasionally using a snooker cue as a pointer to photos on a screen above him.
It’s with the Sniffin’ Glue and NME years that he hits his stride. We find Danny simultaneously courting his wife, Wend, a secretary there, while going round the world with rock stars. Things fall apart, but the on-off courtship reaches a moving conclusion.
There are just two Michael Jackson stories. ‘This section used to be twenty minutes long, but…’.
He’s more than moved by his reception, saying he’d been worried about being heckled. After the interval, he tells us he’s just phoned Wend and ‘for what it’s worth you reduced her to a pile of tears.’
The Gazza and Twizzle story with which he closes is a corker. The show takes us up to 1988 and the start of his radio years. At over three hours, it’s too long, but Baker runs off our goodwill. He finishes by calling this ‘one of the greatest gigs of my career. Nottingham, I love you.’ A full standing ovation shows that the feeling is mutual.