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Grayson on his Bike – review

Radio 4

The last thing Grayson on his Bike (Radio 4) ought to have been was boring. Artist Grayson Perry took his childhood teddy bear, Alan Measles, to Germany. Dressed as a young girl ("puffy sleeves, big petticoats, white frilly socks"), Perry toured the country, contemplating his formative years. In those, Alan Measles was a key figure: "He was the benign dictator of my fantasy world, and in some ways, the carrier of my manhood." He fought off the Germans in many a battle, we heard.

When he spoke about the bear's significance, and the impact of a stepfather moving into his household ("he fitted the role of the Nazis in my sub-conscious quite well"), this was engrossing stuff. But the rest of it was either a puzzle – really, why the trip to Germany, and why the particular locations? – or indulgent silliness. The bear was annoyingly voiced ("as a young teddy, I was faced with a grave crisis in Grayson's life") and we also heard from Perry's wife, sounding nonplussed. "I can't take it particularly seriously," she said in a long-suffering voice.

It was all nicely produced, and probably seemed a great idea on paper. On radio, though, it grated, and was dull despite all the quirkiness. Worse still, the programme had that deadly feeling of being really quite smitten with itself. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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