Review: Sandi Toksvig: National Trevor, York Barbican, January 28

SANDI Toksvig is the ultimate host. Whether it’s the News Quiz, QI, the Bake Off or even an obscure children’s breakfast show with quizzes about sandwiches, Toksvig brings an immediate warmth and undeniable authority to everything she does. It’s this combination that means even if the show National Trevor were about nothing at all, people still would have flocked to the Barbican.

Luckily, a rambling and aimless show is nowhere in sight. In an evening that feels part stand-up, part lecture, Toksvig talks about the things that unite us (a desire for fame, the inevitability of death- it’s a real mixed bag) in a rousing celebration of all that’s weird and wonderful in the everyday. Even among the anecdotes about dining at the Savoy there are hints of relatability, a hard task that proves Toksvig is a grounded and charming performer.

The show wanders into “youth is wasted on the young” territory when Toksvig bemoans the solitary and fame-for-the-sake-of-fame nature of “kids these days”: a claim that feels debunked by her inclusion of a Byron poem complaining about the exact same vapid grasp for fame. Largely however, she handles darker topics with a refreshing levity, buoyed along by no end of quite interesting anecdotes

There are quizzes, potted histories and family connections aplenty, and Toksvig’s parting wisdom is a delightful plea to enjoy life and seize the day. Toksvig applauds armchair-level excitement: did you know eating biscuits was dangerous? And you still do it, you wonderful risk-takers.

Louise Jones