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Chaser Paul serves up a night of vim and tonic.

Paul Sinha: Hazy Little Thing Called Love, Albany Theatre, October 31 only.

It took me a few minutes to confirm that the guy on stage, bedecked in a dull and ill-fitting outfit, was indeed Paul Sinha, writes Jackie Arnot.

That may well have been because I was wearing glasses as well as a mask in a suitably socially distanced audience. After some de-misting, it finally became evident that this was indeed one of the “the Chasers” – the extremely well-informed resident know-alls who take on contestants in ITV’s early-evening quiz show, The Chase.

On those occasions he sports a well-fitting bright, white suit. Suitable attire, perhaps, for a very bright man who trained at St George’s Hospital Medical School in London before becoming a GP and then developing a second career as a comedian and broadcaster.

A regular on Radio 4, he has also been something of a stand-up star at the Edinburgh Festival. Now here he was in Coventry, spinning a spiel that was funny and poignant – even if I missed the occasional punchline when he swayed away from the mike.

It was heart-warming as well as witty, particularly when he spoke about “coming out” and his marriage to a man called Oliver. Not easy for a man born in Luton to parents of Bengali-Hindu origin.

Being diagnosed with Parkinson’s received the comic treatment as well -- and made it all the more remarkable that he finished the evening reciting the periodic table while hoolah-hooping.

Not the most elegant of hoopers (she said as one crowned hoolah queen of the street, aged seven) but a brave and funny one. This is, after all, a brave and funny man whose last line exemplified his defiance of difficulties and determination to keep going. “Embrace life and beer,” he urged. “We might not be here next year.”

A message that seemed all the more poignant as a pandemic raged and another lockdown loomed.


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