Raising Martha review - psychedelic froggy comedy

David Spicer's humorous play about animal rights boasts deft one-liners and giant amphibians, but it ends up down a dramatic cul-de-sac.

Lyn Gardner, The Guardian, 23rd January 2017

Polyoaks (Radio 4, 11.30am), a bitingly topical satire (written by Dr Phil Hammond and David Spicer) on changes currently sweeping the National Health Service, continues with ambitious Doctor Hugh (Simon Greenall) scheming to get on even faster with the powers that be by playing squash. Difficult, as his hip isn't working very well and he hates seeing a doctor.

Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph, 30th November 2012

David Spicer's Kind Hearts and Coronets - Like Father, Like Daughter, a sequel to the 1949 Ealing comedy in which Alec Guinness played all eight members of the D'Ascoyne family murdered by Louis Mazzini so he can become the 10th Earl of Chalfont, achieved something quite different. This delightful comedy kept the lightness of touch of the original while imbuing the drama with ironic references for a contemporary audience. Spicer's ingenuity in matching the method of despatch to the victim added to the fun.

Natalie Walter was spectacular - droll, manipulative yet likeable, as Unity the illegitimate daughter of Louis, hanged for his litany of dynastic murders. Born with the same sense of entitlement, Unity set about murdering her father's wife, Lady Edith Gascoyne and five of her six children, the entire family played in an astonishing vaudevillian style by Alistair McGowan, the personality and fate of each somehow embodied in phonics and inflections.

Moira Petty, The Stage, 22nd May 2012

Tricky though the film Kind Hearts and Coronets must have been for the many-roled Alec Guinness, it was almost certainly a doddle compared with Alistair McGowan's feat of portraying seven members of the Gascoyne family by voice alone, in yesterday's sequel. That there was never any doubt as to who was supposed to be whom was a tribute to his rightly lauded mimetic powers.

Kind Hearts and Coronets: Like Father, Like Daughter saw Unity Holland (daughter of the original film's killer, played by Dennis Price) seeking her rightful inheritance by knocking off the six sons of Lady Edith Gascoyne. It provided a lovely, featherlight way to while away an hour, nicely written by David Spicer, with Natalie Walter as the engagingly amoral Unity. When war breaks out, she records: "I offered to do my bit for King and country, but - rather shortsightedly in my case - women were deemed incapable of killing."

Chris Maume, The Independent, 20th May 2012

You don't have to have seen the classic 1949 film of Kind Hearts and Coronets (with Dennis Price as the villainous Louis Mazzini murdering his way through all the D'Ascoynes, each one played by Alec Guinness, for the family fortune) to enjoy David Spicer's radio sequel.

Time has rolled on, we're in the 20th century. Unity Holland (Natalie Walter) is up against many other claimants to the earldom, each played by clever Alistair McGowan and all of them ruthless.

Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph, 18th May 2012

The new Friday morning comedy on Radio 4, Polyoaks, is about the revolution soon to come when general practitioners take over from Primary Care Trusts in handling funds. Co-written by David Spicer and practising medical satirist Dr Phil Hammond, it has closely observed character types in Dr Roy (Nigel Planer) and his brother Dr Hugh (Tony Gardner) who pursue their father's old medical practice in the house they were born in. They have a canny manager in Betty (Celia Imrie) who has taken on the retraining of Dr Jeremy (famous from TV but recently involved in scandal) because the fee the state pays for doing this is so big. While the writers are careful to indicate that much of what is happening now began under the Blair-Brown governments they are scarily predictive about the dangers of putting large budgets into the hands of people not trained to handle them. Listen and learn. Frank Stirling, sharp as a hypodermic, directs for independents Unique.

Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph, 7th June 2011

Here's daring. This new four-part comedy by David Spicer and the tartly witty Dr Phil Hammond is about two brother doctors getting to grips with the new National Health Service, the one just over the horizon where all the funds are to be transferred from area Health Authorities to General Practitioners. The power shift is momentous. The risks will be many. The cast is marvellous, including Celia Imrie, Nigel Planer, Phil Cornwell, Carla Mendonça. As there's no preview disc it remains to be heard whether the script lives up to the promise of its premise.

Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph, 3rd June 2011