Review: You didn't miss a beat Stephen . . . but stick to the night job

THE news as read by a jazz DJ sounds like the cue for an old Fast Show sketch - "And finally-skeedeely-deebop-dee, a talking dog: nice!"

But with the usual Reporting Scotland team on strike yesterday, Radio Scotland's Jazz House presenter and big band singer Stephen Duffy was the only one left to present the programme.

Presumably, the BBC canteen staff were next on the management's call list.

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During the brisk five minutes of the shortened broadcast, most viewers probably didn't hear a word of the actual news for wondering where the fragrant Jackie Bird was tonight and just what that strange chap had on his face (a groovy "soulpatch" beard, trimmed into a devilish triangle).

No matter, because for BBC Scotland management it was more about making a point to the striking journalists than really replacing the usual half-hour programme, so Duffy had to race through the bulletin at the speed of a Charlie Parker improvisation.

"Brian," he asked the similarly unfamiliar sports reporter, plaintively, "what's going on?"

Jazzmen, of course, are traditionally cool, so Duffy didn't betray many signs of nerves other than hands racing across the notes on the desk as if he were mentally playing the Hammond organ.

If he felt tempted to croon a story about "breast, bowel and lung cancer" to the tune of Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered, he kept it to himself.

But unlike the fabled understudy who goes out there a nobody and comes back a star, he should probably stick to his night job.

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