INSTANT SUNSHINE   Four Star review by  
Edinburgh Fringe 2013

Not a Cloud in Sight

Venue Number 23. Pleasance Dome, Potterow, 1 Bristo Square, EH8 9AL. 2-10 August 14:00 (1 hour). Suitability: U.

Instant Sunshine can really brighten up someone’s day with their old time sounds, musical talent and light comedy. Peter Christie, David Barlow, Alan Maryon Davis and the newest and youngest member, Tom Barlow, delighted the small audience with comedy songs played on guitar, banjo, double bass and percussion. Their sound is reminiscent of Tom Lehrer and traditional comedy, with lovely harmonies and witty one-liners that had the audience giggling throughout.

They display wonderful musical talent, working as one rather than against each other and creating a very old fashioned sound. Their terrible acting was clearly self-conscious, though they weren’t afraid of a bad pun as long as it was accompanied by a musical nudge and a wink.

This old school group have a lovely way with words, dazzling the audience with their witty, fast-paced, tongue-twisting lyrics. Their faux-Spanish songs stood out as the funniest while some others fell a little flat.

This is not a cutting edge group of guys with a theremin, armed with absurd jokes à la Bill Bailey. Their jokes are very much aimed at an

older audience and unashamedly so. These very well dressed gentlemen know their audience and cater to them with wit, joy and pleasure. This show will not suit everyone’s taste; a niche show to say the least. However, some ditties such as ‘Knitting for Victory’ do have the fashionable vintage factor, so if old school comedy sounds float your boat, then this very sweet group of musical comics might be for you. [Troy Holmes] 

Instant Sunshine at the Rosemary Branch Theatre 
27th February 2012 
Review by Carolin Kopplin
Formed in 1966 by three doctors – Peter Christie, David Barlow and Alan Maryon-Davis - Instant Sunshine are best known for their long association with the BBC Radio’s  Stop the Week. Their humour is gentle but has a sharp edge. Reminiscent of Flanders and Swann, their intelligent and witty songs are laden with self-parody, often bordering on the absurd. Newly joined by double-bass player Thomas Barlow, this musical cabaret quartet have found their way to Islington to delight their audience, including some very young fans who remained attentive throughout the performance. One girl was absolutely thrilled when Thomas Barlow shook her hand before leaving for the interval.  
Instant Sunshine presented old favourites such as  Smooth Train Blues – which takes you to the Deep South (meaning Woking and Guildford),  My Dog Has Fleas, and  Has Anybody Seen My Horse? to the great joy of their long-time fans, but they also addressed modern day problems such as overpopulation and the under-production of food – the two major problems today which – according to our friends can be solved by coming to “terms with worms.” The incompetence of the train companies and the failings of the NHS were deservedly chosen as targets as well as the consequences of global warming with Alan Maryon-Davis making an emphatic speech as Queen Elizabeth II. Of course there was also more than one reference to WW II with Granny knitting for British victory and a parody of Churchill’s great speech.
This endearing quartet, who admittedly evolved from a classical band to heavy metal to punk and hip hop and now garage, does not just appeal to traditionalists. Their vast musical repertoire and their skilled satire delights all generations alike.

Fringe Review

Edinburgh Fringe 2011

Instant Sunshine Genre: Comedy 

4 Stars -   Highly Recommended Show

Venue: Pleasance Dome

  Low Down

Instant Sunshine provide timeless humour through a mix of amusing songs and witty monologues that combine neat and topical observational lyrics with a good sized dollop of self-deprecation. Great British humour for our damp British summer – Instant Sunshine.


As the Fringe gets off to a chilly, showery start, what better than a blast of Instant Sunshine to brighten up the day? Instant Sunshine cheerfully admit to having been on the outer fringes of the world of show business for over forty years now. Three of their number (Peter Christie, David Barlow and Alan Maryon Davis) have, in their own words, certainly been around the block – and quite a few times by the look of it. Their youth employment policy, however, has led them to offer an unmissable opportunity to one of the fruits of David Barlow’s loins - young Tom, their svelte bassist.

This sort of self-deprecation is clearly part of their comic badinage and gentle repartee which serves as an amusing interlude between their set of comic songs addressing a broad range of subjects, from the topical to the esoteric. Bankers, not surprisingly, come in for some gentle ribbing, being portrayed here as a group of repressed romanticists. Doctors and gardeners come in for similar treatment, which allows the group to display a clever mix of theatre, comedy and absurdity in both song and linking dialogue. I particularly liked their take on what they felt Her Majesty would be saying in her closing speech at the Olympics next year, a soliloquy delivered with some panache and excellent characterization. No wonder they claim to have performed privately for Royalty. There was also a unique take on Mozart’s composing abilities – at a mere 11 months he could apparently babble in the best baroque style.

Instant Sunshine has a fondness for clever rhyming couplets and a predilection for alliteration. They are also comfortable with a mix of musical genre - we had blues, baroque, ballad and many others. This mix of genre and the overall quality of the words helped mask some slightly eccentric accompaniment, which on occasions seemed to part company with the singers. And some of the comic asides were delivered so sotto voce that they disappeared into the ether.

But you don’t come to a show like this looking for opera quality musicality, even if our quartet did deliver a pocket operetta of their own in under three and a half minutes. You come to be amused by the lyrics and to enjoy a gentle chuckle. And that’s what commends this show – it’s cleverly written, topical, gently amusing and a safe bet for anyone wanting an hour of timeless entertainment. Think Flanagan and Allen, roll forward 60 years or so and you’ll have some idea of what this form of Instant Sunshine will do for you – brighten up the dullest of days.

  Reviewed by Tim Wilcock 5 August 2011

Edinburgh Fringe 2009
Instant Sunshine


" This is one for the traditionalists among us. It's a show from another generation of musical comedy, but the wealth of experience of these performers (they've been going longer than the Fringe itself) is marvellous to behold. The atmosphere was tranquil and inoffensive, much like a dinner with genial uncles, as the distinctly senior-spectrum audience watched these three vaudeville veterans (plus younger bassist) launch into their array of joyous and original ditties. Their witty and artisan-polished repertoire of music from flamenco to the blues, slapstick comedy and harmonious satire places them firmly as the heirs of that deeply English tradition of Noel Coward and Flanders and Swan. Hardly edgy Fringe fare, but we had a jolly lovely time."

Sian Hickson in Three Weeks (Rating 4/5)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Edinburgh Fringe 2005
Instant Sunshine
“Light and easy with music and intelligent comedy”
Scotsman on Sunday - August 2005
Edinburgh Fringe 1999
Warm Front Keeps Blues at Bay

Alan ,David & Peter with Tom on bass

  Instant Sunshine   ****

What is there left say about Instant Sunshine? For over 30 years Peter Christie, David Barlow and Alan Maryon Davis have been gentlemen and players, with the emphasis on gentle - although they do play very well. Their every performance strikes a blow for the educated middle classes and for the humorously well behaved.

With the addition of David Barlow’s son Tom playing a mean bass and occasionally joining intelligent four-part harmonies, the immaculately-clad quartet fills your hour with filigree entertainment.

Their songs have names such as Paradise in Tring, Nouveau, Poor and Garden Shed.

They do flamenco-influenced numbers about wearing glasses, a wonderful tribute to the Kings Singers (who had training…three years at Kings College Cambridge, four years in Madam Tussauds) and some lovely spoken character pieces. They are masters of an increasingly rare art, silliness. When they sing the Monster in the Goldfish Pond at Number 7B you are listening to the ageing love-children of Flanders and Swan and Kit and the Widow.

Their every second is honed for comedy. They have more twinkle than Sirius. Watch any one of them at any time and you will be entertained. They finish a show that has a very mixed audience stamping their feet and shouting for more with a song specially written to demonstrate Davis’s expertise on the exotic percussion.

Instant Sunshine are too warm to be cool and too polite to be cutting edge. What they are is very, very entertaining.

Kate Copstick - Fringe Review in The Scotsman 27 August 1999
The first review we had in a national paper was when we appeared for the first time at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1975. It was a small but encouraging  mention in an article in the Financial Times.
Financial Times Review 
Prieview of Roads to Stardom
This is Radio Times preview of the BBC2 film Roads to Stardom produced by David Buckton and transmitted on Wednesday 24th December 1980. We understand the film will shortly be viewable through BBC Archives.

>>  18 :: Apr :: 2024
Instant Sunshine at the Pheasantry 14th July 2024

>>  17 :: May :: 2023
Instant Sunshine at the Pheasantry Saturday 5th August 2023

>>  16 :: Jan :: 2023
Instant Sunshine at the Pheasantry on Thursday 9th February 2023

>>  01 :: Jul :: 2022
Instant Sunshine at the Pheasantry 20th August 2022

>>  08 :: Jul :: 2021
Instant Sunshine at the Pheasantry 2nd September 2021

>>  21 :: Nov :: 2020
Keep Singing

>>  26 :: Feb :: 2020
Instant Sunshine Concert on Saturday 29th February at Donhead St Andrew