"A worthy successor to
James Herriot and every bit as endearing" Alan Titchmarsh
Gervase Phinn has been
touring and selling out theatre across the country for over 9 years
now as a hilarious raconteur. The best selling and award winning
author, Radio and TV personality, really is at his best and most
exciting in front of a live audience. 'An Evening with Gervase
Phinn' will have you on the edges of your seats, as he shares his
hilarious and sometimes poignant tales of life as a schools
inspector in the Yorkshire Dales.
Review: Gervase Phinn at The Victoria
Review by Ian White
IN MANY ways we appear to have lost the art of story
telling. Time is against us so often and we need to get to the point
as quickly as possible.
It was a joy to be in the presence of one of the
country's leading story tellers when Gervase Phinn visited the
Victoria Hall on Thursday .
With an international reputation built on his many
experiences as school inspector in North Yorkshire, his story
telling began in a series of best selling books where his humour
became widely known and hugely popular. A round of public speaking
engagements led to Gervase Phinn being presented with the Speaker of
the Year award in 2004.
There is warmth in the subject of his stories. His
audience relates easily to the situations he recalls. There is even
greater warmth in the man himself a person of great wit and empathy.
His timing, his improvisation and embellishment (all key skills of a
strong story teller) were impeccable.
Wrapped up for Christmas, he concentrated his
accounts on his school nativity play experiences of which there were
many. Any wish that thoughts of Christmas were premature were
balanced by the harsh reality of the switching on of the Christmas
lights in the city centre that evening.
For us Christmas had arrived early with one of the
most gifted of speakers, whose personality continues to shine amidst
the present doom and gloom on a night to remember.
Review: Queen's Theatre, Barnstaple
An evening with Gervase Phinn
is like having a favourite uncle to tea
Review: Jo Wood
SPENDING an evening with Gervase Phinn is rather
like having a favourite uncle round for tea. He's so comfortable
with his stories that everyone's immediately put at their ease.
The Queen's Theatre was full. I noticed straight
away that the men/women ratio was roughly fifty/fifty, with more
than a few teachers in the audience. The thing is Gervase Phinn is
genuinely funny and not threatening to anyone. I suppose most people
there had read his books (there's quite a few in Barnstaple library)
or heard him on the radio, but it didn't matter if you hadn't.
Unless you were expecting Ricky Gervais that is!
Dressed in cheerful colours he entertained us so
well the evening flew by. Mr Phinn was surely born with a gift for
storytelling and poetry. He's from Rotherham and fiercely proud of
it. His career has taken him from teaching to work as a Schools'
Inspector, and given him the ability to see the world through a
"If a little girl writes egog what does it mean?" he
asked us. "Why, Hedgehog of course." His fascinating life in
education has given him ample fodder for many books, and a packed
schedule of performances all over the country. There's not much
about children that he doesn't know.
Mr Phinn has become one of the most popular authors
in the country, and despite what he says about a happy childhood not
selling, I think this is where his secret lies: happiness is always
in demand. He's got a gift for seeing the funny side of things,
which we all want to share. Who else would see the writing on a
lipstick as a dire warning: 'Remove cap and push up bottom'?
Not shying away from the emotional extremes he is
capable of reducing an audience to tears or paroxysms of laughter
with only moments in between. I challenge you to sit through a show
without being moved. His faith is clearly a huge part of his life,
and he's not afraid to stand up and declare it. You might think this
would be rather unfunny, but it seems to have the opposite effect. I
loved the anecdote about the headmistress of a convent school
answering the phone as "The Head of John the Baptist".
I'm not sure if I should be a bit ashamed about
enjoying an evening of 'easy listening' but I haven't time to talk
about it now as I need to get to the library before it shuts...
Review: Gervase Phinn - Hall for
Review by Eric Dare
In a gloomy world on a wet April evening, Gervase
Phinn provided the tonic all of us wanted as we packed into the HFC
For me it was a refreshingly new experience. I had
read his accounts of his life as a Yorkshire schools inspector and
found them amusing, but to hear his fund of quips and stories given
‘live’ was totally different: non-stop banter for ninety minutes
before the interval, tears in eyes, I ached with laughter. ‘You can
always tell a Yorkshireman – but not much!’ What a gift to comics is
a rich Yorkshire accent! Add to that superb timing, mimicry and
Oops! He wouldn’t have approved of that last cliché
– and quite right! Though we laughed at his performance, a serious
thread throughout was the importance of language and literature to
young children – and love - something he had enjoyed from his
parents as a youngster that he fervently wanted for all children.
Let them be given Shakespeare – not presented to children with lots
of notes – poetry and the speeches of Churchill.
However, he could also enjoy the misuse of language,
especially from his secretary, Connie: ‘If I ever discover who’s
been making those allegations, I kill the alligator!’ Poorly
composed advertisements and signs, ambiguous instructions (on a
lipstick: ‘Take off top and push up bottom’) were all grist to his
mill (ugh! another cliché), as were his own experiences of growing
up in Rotherham. More recently he had been based in Harrogate, ‘so
posh even the Fire Brigade is ex-directory.’
What distinguished his performance from other
popular Yorkshire comics such as Les Dawson, was his declared
Christian faith, his belief in the importance of education, and his
obvious humanity and compassion. This was movingly evident in the
only story he read, that of the unloved Matthew and Fr. Mackenzie.
The evening was not only joyously funny, but also heartwarming.
Review: Gervase Phinn in Ipswich Corn
Review by Angus Smith - Resident of Kesgrave
I have to confess I had not even heard of Mr Phinn
until a few months ago when my mother and cousin mentioned he was
doing a theatre tour including a date in Ipswich. They had read
several of his books and said they were hilarious and when I asked
if was he a comedian they said he was, but much more.
Despite it being cold and snowing outside, a packed
Corn Exchange proved that he had something of a cult audience and he
is indeed a man of many talents.
Gervase Phinn is, as I discovered, a multi-faceted
talent - raconteur, teacher, freelance lecturer, author, poet,
OFSTED school inspector, educational consultant and visiting
professor of education.
Rotherham-based Phinn entertained us with a two hour
set comprising an array of humorous tales, anecdotes, readings and
The tour, entitled a Yuletide Evening with Gervase
Phinn, was primarily promoting his new book Out Of The Woods: But
Not Over The Hill which is, in essence, a best-of compilation of his
"Never having to resort
to profanities to punctuate his punchlines and prose" - Angus Smith
It primarily focuses on the humour and observations
of getting old, but also included some very funny recollections of
The first part of the evening concentrated on the
Christmas theme and Phinn brought up some hysterical yarns from his
time as a schools inspector.
There were large numbers of teachers in the audience
(myself included) and he delivered some terrific tales from his A
Wayne In A Manger book along with other Christmas-related material.
The second half of the show dealt more with material
from his Dales series of books and others such as Don't Tell
Phinn's delivery is like a cross between Alan
Bennett and James Herriot for the 2010s and his self-deprecating
He thanked his parents for giving him his love of
reading and writing and his sense of humour:
"I mean, my father had a great sense of humour. Who
else would call their son Gervase in a Yorkshire coal-mining
His work as a schools inspector was often the source
of much hilarity.
"What's the difference between a rottweiler and a
"Well, a rottweiler doesn't smile when he savages
you!" or "What's the difference between a school inspector and a
terrorist? At least you can negotiate with a terrorist."
Other gems were when phoning the mother superior of
a convent school Phinn was shocked with the reply of "This is the
head of St John the Baptist speaking!"
His own family provided the gags when he recalled
his little grand-daughter telling his wife: "Grandma, your face
needs an iron."
Never politically correct, but at the same time
never having to resort to profanities to punctuate his punchlines
and prose, Phinn managed to entertain and delight throughout while
at the same time making poignant observations on life and learning.
All in all a hugely entertaining evening.
Gervase Phinn was at the Ipswich Corn Exchange on Thursday, 25
Gervase Phinn shares his hilarious tales of life
as a school inspector in the Yorkshire Dales which
will have you in stitches. Dubbed 'The James Herriot
of schools' this best selling author, Radio and TV
personality is not to be missed.
"A natural storyteller, he combines the timing of
the professional comedian with palpable warmth and
the ability to deliver a message that is just more
than a series of jokes" - The Times
“I owe, as I’ve always said in life, any success I’ve had
to people. It started with my parents. My mother used to
read to me, my father used to tell stories – White Fang and
Moonfleet – and he’d take me to the library in Rotherham,
he’d go to the market and pick up old paperbacks. So, as a
child, I used to read avidly anywhere - behind the garden
shed, in summer on the lawn, up a tree, in bed at night
under the covers with my torch. I couldn’t get my nose out
of a book and the more you practise something, the better
you become at it. If you read and read, you know a lot about
language and on the back of reading is writing."
“My university tutor at Leeds, Dr Cowell, said ‘if you
want to be a writer, you’ve got to do two things – read,
read and read and you’ve got to keep a notebook and write
things down, which was great advice. One of the best bits of
advice to give is ‘keep a diary of events and things that