After losing Neil Innes, and then having two years of pandemic hiatus, to be honest, I thought that after a short run, The Bath Plug Award had had its day. We had tried, over the years: from Terry Jones in 2015 to Arthur Smith in 2019, but the original plan to have guests interviewed on stage and show their greatest work up on the big screen and so on has long ago foundered, and as I now live out in the sticks and have a baby on the way, some things you just have to let go…
And then word comes through – after years of begging, SANDI TOKSVIG SAID YES! And she’s in town on Thursday!
And so, how it went down during the second night of her new tour ‘Next Slide Please’. The plan was that she would offer me the last question in the Q&A section in the second half, but in the end I had to heckle the finale. However, we’re all very proud to finally have a 7th winner of The Bath Plug Award, and one who genuinely was top of our list from Day One!
How the presentations went down is best summed up by my original notes for the stage invasion… CTRL+V:
“Q: Would it be okay if I were to embarrass you just for a couple of minutes?
I’m Jem Roberts, comedy historian, official chronicler for I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, and adopted Bathonian, and several years ago we at the Bath Comedy Festival launched THE BATH PLUG AWARD, for services to being very very funny.
7 years ago to the day, the great and lovely TERRY JONES was our first ever winner, a couple of years later your hero and mine BARRY CRYER got his Bath Plug, and in 2020 our plan to honour the genius of NEIL INNES marked a tragic pausing of the event for now three years. Don’t worry, not all the great comedians on the list have died since winning it – PETER RICHARDSON, ARTHUR SMITH & RACHEL PARRIS are thankfully still with us.
But from the very first event, there was one name right in the very top section of the first side of the first sheet of desired winners of the Bath Plug, someone we all agreed deserved to be celebrated. The one Dane, throughout all British history, that the British people have taken to their hearts more than any other.
To spare Sandi’s blushes, all I will say is that personally, I seem to have been in the right age demographic throughout Sandi’s career:
• I first saw her when I was a wee child watching Number 73, she was making huge stacks of sandwiches on Saturday morning TV.
• As a teenager, marvelling at her improvisatory prowess on Whose Line Is It Anyway…
• I must have watched all of the bittersweet The Big One with the gorgeous Mike McShane numerous times
• Listened to surely all of the the greatest chairpersonship in 40 plus years of The News Quiz
• And as I am the official chronicler of I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, I’ve been able to lionise Sandi’s achievements in print before now.
• Then there’s QI, and all the books and television programmes…
• And I’m also proud to add that a few years ago, when the very first Bath meeting of the Women’s Equality Party took place, I was there to pick up my membership card, inspired by her exhortations.
She’s a campaigner, she’s an educator, she’s a torch-carrier, but above all, she’s a very very funny comedian.
So it’s an honour for us that Sandi Toksvig has agreed to accept this year’s Bath Plug Award for comedy greatness.
And I’d like to invite the Bath Comedy Festival boss Nick Steel up onto the stage now to present the award…