Edinburgh Fringe ’79 – The Year Of Radio Active Rowan

The build up to the Fringe in Edinburgh in 1979 was all about moving and booming. At least, that’s what The Stage was reporting on the 3rd May.

To give this some context, in 2014, over 2,500 companies took part. The final figure for 1979 was 324, giving a total of 4,180 performances. This also looks to be the beginning of the use of the Student Union buildings, now more commonly known during the festival as the Pleasance.

One of the other comedians performing that year was Freddie Davies, a winner of Opportunity Knocks in 1964, and star of his own comic strip in Buster called Freddie ‘Parrot Face’ Davies.

Come the 16th August, and The Stage was announcing that this was going to be the biggest Fringe ever.

And plans were afoot for new awards.

Deeper into the same publication, there’s a round up of some of the productions that were about to be staged. There’s still very little (if any) stand up comedy on at this point.

The Cambridge revue Irreversible Brain Damage had been performing at the Edinburgh Fringe, and elsewhere, for a while now. Here’s a review from March the year before.

Another mainstay of the Fringe, the Oxford Revue, this year had a show called You’ll Have Had Your Tea. It’s a rather twee title for the embryonic beginnings of Radio Active and later KYTV.

(As an aside, here’s a review of the revue from two years before)

So far, so Oxbridge. Here’s some of the offerings for the second week.

And here’s a review of Liz, a play put on by the Phoenix Festival Company of Middlesex Poly, and featuring one Arabella Weir.

The Bristol Express put on a revue too, called Bristol Packet.

One of the more famous plays that year was Ken Campbell’s The Warp – which would very soon be referenced by the Comic Strip in their production The Wart.

It seems that the financial winners of the Fringe in 1979 were those pesky former Cambridge medical students …

I find this remarkable (and not totally believable), given that An Evening With Rowan Atkinson was on too.

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