Bill Bailey once told Prog magazine that the reason so many comedians are prog fans was down to the fact that their non-linear way of thinking connected with the music itself.
Which is just as well, because while we all know that it’s very bloody easy to laugh at progressive rock, it’s a lot trickier to laugh with progressive rock, and to still have a seemingly large proportion of the fanbase find it amusing. In
the hands of someone else, Brian Pern could so easily have come across like a lesson in bullying the class nerd – something which would probably strike a very wrong chord with us here at the magazine and also with our readers.
However, it is creators Rhys Thomas and Simon Day’s undoubted fondness and extensive knowledge of their subject matter that help to make Brian Pern such a winning and entertaining proposition. We doubt that we need to explain the premise here, but the very fact that Peter Gabriel himself – on whom a part of the titular character is based – was only too happy to play a cameo role in all three series speaks volumes about the show itself.
The fact is that most of us, no matter how close to the music we all share a passion for are, can have a good old giggle at its and our own expense (save, no doubt, for a few curmudgeons already puce with rage that Pern is even featured
in Prog magazine). Because when the chips are down, and let’s face it, prog’s endured some stormy waters over the years, it’s that sense of camaraderie that always pulls us through. Cameos from Rick Wakeman, Phil Collins (this writer fell off his chair with laughter at the Stairway To Heaven / In The Air Tonight segue), Roger Taylor (Queen, not Duran Duran) and more join in the fun, as they ram home the point that hanging on in quiet desperation really is the English way. To put it simply, this is really quite brilliant.