December 8 2015
Review of three journalists’ show which spotlights the highs and lows of being on the frontline…
THEY call themselves ‘The three Brown Degrees’ and individually refer to each other as ‘The Commander’, ‘The Brigadier’ and ‘The Sepoy’ – and most entertaining they are too with it.
Called “No Cowboys, only Indians”, three journalists, Mihir Bose (‘The Commander’), Shekhar Bhatia (‘The Brigadier’) and Vivek Chaudhary (‘The Sepoy – lowest rank in British Indian Army), recount their experiences at the top table of their trade, on stage together for the first time.
They provide for a highly amusing, informative and at time, wry look at the stories and people they’ve encountered.
Bose was the first ever editor of BBC Sport in the late 1990s – responsible for the station’s output on the subject, whether that be on radio or TV, and had a long career prior to that in print, writing for The Sunday Times, principally.
Bhatia has more than 20 years of experience on Fleet Street and cut his teeth at the Evening Standard for many years before taking up his present position as senior US reporter for the world’s most read newspaper website, www.dailymail.com
Chaudhary, British born and every bit the proud Southall lad, made his way from the iconic Punjabi language ‘Des Pardes’ (among the oldest ethnic language titles in the UK) to The Guardian, where he was chief sports correspondent, before taking up a role with ESPN presently.
Bose and Chaudhary have primarily been sports reporters and editors, whereas Bhatia has been more on the news frontline, and perhaps, has the more serious points to make – from reporting on the death of Princess Diana to the current murder case of Oscar Pistorius and the tragic death of Anni Dewani, both in South Africa.
Yes, the three have certainly clocked up the air miles in covering global (sports) events and stories.
They are on stage together on a beautifully constructed set – all it needed was cigarette smoke to evoke the newsrooms of yore.
Combining well and occasionally interjecting and undermining the main narrator, it makes for an engaging and slightly unpredictable evening – they do go off script at times…
There is a veritable cast of great names and shady sidekicks, from both Bose’s and Bhatia’s privileged meet-ups with Nelson Mandela to Chaudhary’s encounter with Diego Maradona. For him too, there is also an unlikely interrogation by an Argentine drug lord and official football hooligan about the whereabouts of a soldier cousin who went missing during the Falkands War, reportedly at the hands of the British Gurkas.
Racism rears its ugly head and the three are very restrained about the times when they have been badly treated simply because they are not white or deemed English (which they all are) or called W**s – Bose was often under physical danger when covering football matches in the 1980s – he likens it a little like going into a war zone. Chaudhary talks very candidly about how scared he felt covering the civil war in Sri Lanka for a time.
The verbal segues are smooth and with specially composed music from Lola Perrin, the 90 plus minute or so banter zips along and rarely dips.
It’s easy to forget that the trio are journalists and not performers or actors – a tad more stagecraft might smooth out the very occasional rough edges – but they all started out as writers, an occupation which is as lonely as it comes (forgetting the din of a newsroom or the bark of an impatient editor).
Journalism helps to meld the individual with the collective, and by and large most journalists are gregarious, sociable and curious (read nosey) and these three have a lovely, warming chemistry and one thing more in common than meets with the eye about the job they all do.
Yes, they are all brown – of course, but they are all big Indian cricket team fans and have no qualms about it – a little bit of Tebbit bashing can never go amiss. But they are also very proud to be British and recognise the opportunities it’s afforded.
Much of what they narrate is social history and anyone with an interest in journalism, popular culture and diversity, as well as obviously sport, will be fascinated and absorbed by these tales and as we all know and must acknowledge – we are standing on the shoulders of giants (…just like the three in question).
Please take a bow Bose, Bhatia and Chaudhary – you boys done good and Mother India (bar the arrest warrant, Commander) would be very proud!
The profits are going to Alzheimer UK.
It plays for one final evening tonight. Next stop: Vegas…haha.
ACV rating**** (out of five)
More info: http://www.thecourtyard.org.uk/whatson/632/no-cowboys-only-indians
*Tickets available for Tuesday (8) HERE
Related previously: Under Theatre Lights – Mihir Bose