Extreme Broadcasting

Thu 4th – Sat 6th August 2016


Frances Ball

at 18:04 on 6th Aug 2016



David Ramsay wrote and performed this one man show, and delivers it with a PowerPoint presentation, a costume change, and more dad jokes than is usually seen outside of a Christmas cracker. He is serenaded with groans from the audience as he recounts stories from his time as an engineer with BFBS, a TV and radio service for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As the show notes several times, BFBS is an indispensable source of morale for the soldiers who rely on that link to their lives back home, and it is undoubtable that Ramsay was a key figure in an important aspect of life in Camp Bastion. The fact that his perspective is reasonably niche, and that the topic he is discussing is rarely covered in mainstream media, is probably the show’s biggest draw. It is an unusual subject, and since most aspects of life in a war zone are pretty extraordinary to a room full of civilians, the fact that there isn't much of a climax to his story is not as problematic as it would be in a more well-trodden storytelling path.

The topic is interesting, and the delivery gentle and harmless. But Extreme Broadcasting is not riotously funny as it seems to be marketed. If it were billed as what it is, a light approach to an unusual subject matter, then it would perhaps tick more boxes. Ramsay comes across as an amicable, personable figure with a kind sense of humour, and he is obviously good at his job, but his job, as he admits, is not as “a performer. I’m an engineer.” There are some lovely moments in the show, including an exasperated account of military acronym use and an example of what to do with a redundant, pool sized satellite dish.

Ramsay delivers it with gentle humour, and you get the impression that he is funny in a spontaneous way in real life. It’s entirely reasonable that he should have learned a script for the show, but it loses a natural sense of delivery.

Don’t go to the show purely for the comedy, but go for his take on a world that few civilians would be able to tell you about. 'Extreme Broadcasting' is anything but extreme, but is a gently interesting look at a subject that no one else at the Fringe is talking about.


Becky Wilson

at 22:29 on 6th Aug 2016



'Extreme Broadcasting' strikes me as an odd choice for the Fringe. David Ramsay’s unique offering to the festival is essentially an informative, mildly amusing presentation on his experiences at the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS), a radio station based in war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Armed merely with PowerPoint and some rather feeble jokes, Ramsay recounts working as a radio operational engineer in Iraq. He offers up some admittedly intriguing anecdotes, from witnessing an extreme sandstorm, to using an upturned satellite dish as a hot tub.

One of the highlights of Ramsay’s show is when he describes his struggles to communicate with soldiers, desperately grappling with military jargon. Their abbreviations certainly appear to cause more communicative problems than they solve (bizarrely, there are even abbreviations for the abbreviations). This is precisely what works about Extreme Broadcasting: we are offered fascinating – albeit brief - glimpses into the unfathomable, beige world of a war zone through the eyes of a normal civilian man, whose perspective is certainly sharper than those constantly submerged in it.

However, Ramsay’s status as a civilian engineer is his weakness as much as his strength. The show is punctuated with technical and logistical descriptions, and I find my attention drifting when Ramsay mentions satellite receivers and FM transmitters. It is undeniable that this show would be fascinating for other radio engineers, for instance, but the empty seats are testament to the fact that he appeals to a rather niche audience.

As Ramsay puts it succinctly, “I’m not a performer, I’m an engineer”. While this may be true, there are steps he could take to make the show into more of a performance. It feels a little formal, and there are bizarre endorsements for the radio station punctuating the presentation. If Ramsay throws away his script, takes off his microphone, turns off the projector and steps out from behind his podium before telling his stories, he would be so much more engaging to his audiences.

The show certainly does not contain the ‘dangerous levels of humour’ that we were promised. Ramsay recites dad jokes, mild puns, and predictable punchlines, which extract only an occasional chuckle from the audience. While containing some gently amusing anecdotes and a glimpse into military life, 'Extreme Broadcasting' cannot really offer much else to the average punter.


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