Ghost hunter and time traveller Thaddeus Bent began life as a recurring character in the Legion of Doom’s monthly Comedy Knights at Mello Mello. These days, like that dear departed venue, the sketch trio are no more – and as one of their number, Lee Hithersay, developed the antics of their antisocial performance poet Terry Arlarse into an hour long show, so the remaining two, brothers Rob and Oli Bond, have worked on putting more flesh on the bones of Thaddeus.
Rob takes the role while Oli diligently oversees things from his laptop and has even created a tie-in comic book.
You could say prolific local author and paranormal investigator Tom Slemen is the inspiration behind Thaddeus, and sure the Bonds couldn’t possibly comment; but for a flavour of his output, you might find the many volumes of our protagonist’s books “in that shop in St John’s, in between a pictorial history of Neville Southall and an unauthorised biography of Cilla Black”. Add a touch of 80s Dr Who-style whimsy and a huge dollop of Alan Partridge-esque bluster and you have Thaddeus, whose tenuous and joyously naff ghost stories – The Man Duck of Bold Street and Evil Goose of Childwall among them – could chill the blood of any card-carrying Liverpudlian.
Rob Bond’s straight-faced parody comes with an admirable stock in what are often rather left-field in-jokes, as Thaddeus reads the audience a selection of his spooky tales. The character’s deadpan pomposity and Partridge-like lack of self-awareness can – and surely did – hide a multitude of fluffs and meanders off course, but there’s plenty of potential in this fledgling show. Like the Legion of Doom before him, there’s something gleefully and anarchically silly about Thaddeus Bent – a man not afraid to inexplicably butcher an Iron Maiden song older than most of the audience for the sake of a bad pun. What’s not to like about that?