Review: RHLSTP with Andrew Collins

I don’t have a great deal of interest in “celebrity” culture. I couldn’t give a damn about Kim Kardashian’s bottom, or The Only Way is Chelsea. But that’s not to say I don’t have teenage popstar-style crushes: it’s just that mine are on the people who clamber between my ears and make me laugh.

Collings and Herrin (the name arising as a result of journalists constantly misspelling their names) were such an obsession. They were the forerunners of the podcasting genre, after a few guest slots for Richard Herring on Andrew Collins’ 6Music show revealed the chemistry between the pair. When Collins’ run on 6Music ended (it was originally a deputising spot, although went on to become longer term) the boys decided to try and decode the mysteries of Garageband and record their own chats in Richard’s attic.

The format didn’t go much further than a discussion of the news, with Collins turning up with the newspapers (plus a supply of healthy treats, much mocked by Herring); but it worked well. Andrew was the straight man foil to the obnoxious, mocking and childlike “character” of Herrin. Aside from the comedic chemistry, both men were intelligent and well-read, and so the resulting podcasts were as interesting as they were charming and hilarious.

Unsurprisingly, people became invested in the show and it regularly frequented the iTunes top ten. Collins and Herring did spin-off live shows, which further cemented the connection towards their audience. The pair continued for nearly four years, when finally the cracks started to show, and they ceased their podcasting relationship in what Chortle described as “a very public falling out”.

Collins posted a statement about the split, which included Richard’s response. Too much water has gone under the bridge to discuss the whys and wherefores here, they’re already well documented. Suffice to say that an attempt at a further podcast five months after the falling out makes for painful listening and shows that the pair aren’t quite ready to put their differences aside.

For us fans (who they’ve both referred to as the progeny of the partnership) it was sad times indeed. Until now. Fast forward some five years later, and Richard has finally invited Andrew to be a guest on RHLSTP and Andrew has finally bowed to public pressure and complied.

As a displaced child of this divorce, I approached the gig with some trepidation. If it was anything like the aforementioned “attempt at burying the hatchet” final podcast, it would be a cringingly uncomfortable experience.

Thankfully, the audience at the Leicester Square Theatre were spared an evening of polite awkwardness. Seemingly enough oatmilk has passed under the bridge for Collins and Herring to share a room.

That’s not to say that the interview was bland – it was anything but. Collins bounded on to the stage in a chirpy yet rambunctious mood, and it soon became clear that he would be pulling no punches. If the Collings and Herrin podcasts cast Richard in the role of Alpha aggressor and Andrew the mild-mannered nerd with an obsession with the Mitford sisters who laughed off his jibes, it’s obvious from the off that Andrew won’t be returning to that dynamic.

After beating around the bush for a maddening amount of time, Herring finally gets onto the topic of their podcast. Collins is immediately open: “they were, and I hate to say it, marvellous times”. Herrings agrees that “they were, and I miss them”. Cue an audible “aaaah” from the audience.

But Collins isn’t prepared to bury the hatchet that easily. Interrupting Herring at one point, Andrew turns cheerfully to the audience and says “I can’t believe that he’s asking me questions. Because in all the time we did the podcast, he was never that interested in me”. Collins goes on to accuse Richard of causing his previous radio show to be cancelled which Herring admits to, before saying “…let’s not dig this up…”.

“I’m enjoying it!” Collins responds puckishly. It was highly amusing to watch the usually dominant Herring squirm and suggest that “we chat about this backstage”. How times have changed.

Arguably the biggest choker comes up by accident when Richard lets slip that he wanted Andrew to be the best man at his wedding before their falling out. Collins clearly doesn’t know this, and is obviously touched – and surprised. This seems to illustrate how badly things had deteriorated towards the end of their friendship and broadcasting relationship.

Despite the dynamic no longer being the same, there’s plenty to love in this interview. Collins still meanders off on his roundabout anecdotes about minutae which never arrive at a punchline and yet are nonetheless endearingly funny; notably the Northampton Express Lifts Tower and his newfound obsession with the decorating aid Frog Tape. He still loves the 1980s, and the past in general, lamenting the demise of his former employer NME to become a free paper and the Guardian’s plans to launch tabloid-style. He’s such a likeable fellow I feel my teenage crush reawakening all over again.

We can never go back, and I would argue that we shouldn’t try. Twitter is full of Collings and Herrin devotees begging for a return of the podcast, but I prefer that body of work to stand as a perfect little monument to a friendship between two jolly nice fellows. The ugly split detracted from its beauty, but this interview sets matters to rights. As Andrew wrote at the time “I hope we will be sunny and equal and silly again”. It may have taken six years, but the boys are finally back there.

 

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