COMEDIAN Mark Steel won over Portlanders with a wry look at island life.

His routine, which will be broadcast on Radio 4 next Wednesday, featured the Echo’s Portland Correspondent Hilda Swinney and local historian Stuart Morris.

The comedian, author, lecturer and columnist appeared before a sell-out crowd at Southwell Park Theatre to record the final programme in the Mark Steel’s in Town series. In the series, he has visited six towns in England and Wales, taking a lighthearted but complimentary view on what each has to offer.

He was joined for the recording by Mr Morris, who used his encyclopaedic knowledge of the island to provide material for the comic while Hilda engaged in a bit of good-natured repartee.

Hilda said: “The audience, mostly Portlanders, were appreciative and very responsive to his humour and his views on ‘their special island’.

“They left him in no doubt that a return of Mark Steel’s in Town would be very welcome.

Stuart Morris said: “Steel gave us a refreshing insight into Portland and its character and I was thrilled that he acknowledged that so much of it was based on my book, Portland – An Illustrated History.

“I was amazed that he should have absorbed so much of the island's history in the short space of time that he had.

“He joked about the Portland winds, saying that in comparison, islanders wouldn’t even have bothered to take out their kites in the face of Hurricane Katrina.

“He made a few remarks about Portland/Weymouth rivalry and our Weymouth friends present laughed as much as the rest of us.”

Hilda added: “Stuart and I had only about ten minutes warning that we would be the only two people in the audience who would be targeted by Mark so we were both a little apprehensive.

“Neither of us knew quite what to expect but it turned out to be a most enjoyable experience for Stuart the Portlander and me, the Kimberlin.

“It is Stuart who must take the credit for supplying the facts and the myths of the island while I engaged in the backchat and the repartee in which I feel that our sense of humour was well matched – I really enjoyed it and I hope that the audience did.

“He asked me my opinions on the controversial subjects of Tesco and the mining of the coastal strip so I replied that as a Kimberlin of 30 years standing, I want what the majority of Portlanders want in each case – yes to Tesco, no to the coastal strip.”

  • The programme, which was produced by Julia McKenzie, will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Wednesday, April 22 at 6.30pm.