Turn to Brian Gulliver's Travels (Radio 4, Wednesdays) for wit, invention and much laughter. This is the second series of satires on the way we live now, written by Bill Dare, presented as the memoirs of a libertine travel writer. Neil Pearson plays him, holed up in a mental hospital, telling his (initially) sceptical daughter about where he's been. Last week we heard his adventures in Lessington, where reading is forbidden and everything is instant (food, films, drink) and nearby Furington where the use of perfect grammar is mandatory and everything (food, films, beer) takes so much time that Gulliver and his latest female travelling companion flee back to Lessington, gratefully bolting down chicken nuggets and freely splitting infinitives. There are four more episodes to come. It is marvellous.Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph, 28th August 2012
This is a great series, conceived and written by Bill Dare, a name more usually associated with comedy production. Brian Gulliver (Neil Pearson) is in a mental hospital, recounting memories to his disenchanted daughter. He's been far away, caught up in strange lands among peoples with outlandish ways. The more he talks the more we begin to see what he's on about, grasping the point of Dare's truly Swiftian satire on modern life. This time, among the people of Chamanoa, our Gulliver is swept into the war between its Naturites and Nurturites.Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph, 14th August 2012
Gulliver, played with his customary playfulness by Neil Pearson, insisted he had visited a country called Gelbetia. The country was run by doctors, lifestyle was no longer a choice but a matter of law, and every character flaw was part of a condition. So laziness was excused as "effort deficit syndrome", and impatience became "queue frustration disorder". The series began on an amusing and thought-provoking note.The Stage, 25th February 2011
Brian Gulliver's Travels is a new comedy, written by Bill Dare, produced by Steven Canny and starring Neil Pearson. He plays a maker of travel programmes, in hospital, claiming to have had strange encounters in an unknown continent. He's been away six years. His estranged daughter Rachel (Mariah Gale) visits him, hears his story, the first of (you've guessed it) six adventures. He was flying over the Amazon when his plane crashed, he landed in water (to his surprise, it was warm) and was picked up by a ship.
This ship was crewed by friendly people without any hair, speaking English. He is taken to the ship's doctor, given a welcome pill, a scan. Soon he discovers he is meeting people who live in a Medocracy. Not only do doctors rule, their deity is medical too. In this country, Gelbetia, people are not unfit. They have symptoms which are treated. The captain of the ship suffers from Incompetence Syndrome. Laziness is Effort Deficit Syndrome. Diet is prescribed, exercise is compulsory. Naturally there is a rebel movement. They raid gyms, destroy the running machines, burn leotards, throw the lentil smoothies down the drain, eat chocolate gateau. Brian takes up with them. When they're caught and jailed the worst punishment is six months' hard yoga. At the very end, Rachel is given reason to believe that Brian may not, after all, just be fabricating again. She says she'll be back for next week's adventure, in Harbentha. So will I. A nimbler reflection on achieving a national state of health is hard to imagine.Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph, 22nd February 2011
Following Ed Reardon into this programme slot is a big challenge. But Brian Gulliver (played by Neil Pearson) is another marvellous character. The creation of Bill Dare, Brian is a man who finds himself in hospital, telling his daughter about the strange adventures that have landed him there. He's been to a land, Gelbetia, where no one has "bad" behaviour because everything can be diagnosed as a symptom or syndrome by the ruling medical industry. It's allusive, relevant, full of surprises, satirical in the true spirit of Swift. And very funny.Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph, 19th February 2011