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Paul Mayhew-Archer: Incurable Optimist - Soho Theatre

Paul Mayhew-Archer: Incurable Optimist

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

PAUL Mayhew-Archer is 65 years old, he has an incurable illness, and at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018 he did something he’d never done before: performed a one-man comedy show. And it went brilliantly!

That show, entitled Paul Mayhew-Archer: Incurable Optimist can be seen at Soho Theatre (Downstairs) from March 19 to March 23, 2019.

Paul Mayhew-Archer has been writing comedy all his life – from puppet shows for his friends at the age of ten to The Vicar of Dibley.

He’s produced hundreds of episodes of radio comedy including I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, Weekending (starring David Jason), Delve Special (starring Stephen Fry) and two award-winning shows written and performed by Andy Hamilton – The Million Pound Radio Show and Old Harry’s Game.

In 1987, Mayhew-Archer wrote his first sitcom for radio, An Actor’s Life For Me and it did so well that it transferred to BBC One where Richard Curtis saw it and asked Paul to work with him on a series about a woman vicar in a village full of lunatics – and the rest is history!

He has also script edited many TV series including Spitting Image, Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps and Miranda, and he’s co-written episodes of My Hero, Mrs Brown’s Boys and Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot starring Dustin Hoffman and Judi Dench.

But when he was 58 and the Commissioning Editor for Radio 4 Comedy, Mayhew-Archer noticed that his handwriting was getting smaller and his arms weren’t moving normally when he walked.

He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, but he didn’t think of it as the end of the world. Instead he thought of it as an opportunity for jokes which he could share with others in the same leaky boat and make them all feel better. Two years ago, he made a documentary called Parkinson’s: The Funny Side for which he won the Grierson Award for Best Documentary Presenter of the Year, and last year, he made his first appearance at The Comedy Store.

Incurable Optimist is a show full of funny stories from a man who regards his entire life as a sitcom and Parkinson’s as just the latest episode. It’s a show about the therapeutic power of comedy and laughter from a man who simply adores making people laugh.

Incurable Optimist is directed by Katie Churchill for Berk’s Nest.

Tickets: Tuesday (Preview): £13 (£12); Wednesday – Thursday: £14 (£13); Friday – Saturday: £16 (£15). To book, call the box office on 020 7478 0103 or visit

Time: 7.30pm.