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Early Birds review at PQA Venues, Edinburgh – ‘plenty of laughs’

The cast of Early Birds at PQA Venues, Edinburgh. Photo: Peter Dibdin The cast of Early Birds at PQA Venues, Edinburgh. Photo: Peter Dibdin
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When the BBC sitcom Birds of a Feather launched in 1989 it made household names of Pauline Quirke, Linda Robson and Lesley Joseph. Series writers Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran have collaborated on Early Birds to offer insight on how the hit comedy was created and how it nearly was cancelled early in the run for too much sexual innuendo.

Following in the footsteps of We’re Doomed! The Dad’s Army Story and The Road To Florizel Street, this sort of script-to-screen drama is usually the reserve of the television channels. While Alex Hughes’ production is staged in a free-flowing, narrated style, Marks and Gran’s script has plenty of laughs but lacks any real conflict.

Quirke’s struggling at the job centre and the litany of complaints from viewers barely infringes on the fun everybody appears to be having putting the sitcom together. Marks and Gran have made pitching and producing a television show look a breeze, and even Birds of a Feather had more conflict woven into its early scripts than this short play. As rose-tinted nostalgia however, it’s not bad. Katriona Perrett as Linda and Harriet Watson as Pauline make a convincing pair, capturing the easy affection the originals shared on screen.

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An entertaining look at how easy it was to make television in the 1980s