Southern Softies review

John Shuttleworth asks the hard questions…

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The comic alter ego of writer-director Graham Fellows, John Shuttleworth is a bespectacled South Yorkshire troubadour whose instrument of choice is a portable synthesiser. In this feature-length mock documentary, which is the follow-up to It’s Nice Up North , Shuttleworth heads down to the Channel Islands in his trusty Austin Ambassador Y Reg to ask the burning question “Are Southerners Soft?” Unfortunately our protagonist’s agent, manager and next-door neighbour Ken Worthington disappears on Jersey , whilst photographer Martin Parr breaks the news that he can’t be the film’s cinematographer. The Channel Islanders Shuttleworth encounters on his travels are an affable bunch, even if they don’t respond positively to his guest spot at a hotel nightclub. Throughout the humour is of the gentle, whimsical variety, closer in spirit to Alan Bennett than to Sacha Baron Cohen. It’s hard not to raise a smile at digressions about crab paste or songs with such rhyming lyrics as, “Northern folk are hard as nails/Fortified by Arctic gales.”

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