Radio Review

Article excerpt

For thousands of people, today is very special. On 17 June 1946, Barry Alan Pinkus was born in New York. The artist normally known as Barry Manilow has hit 50. In Happy Birthday Barry from Gary (Radio 2, Saturday), Gary Wilmot acknowledged this fact. Gary had good reason to be grateful to Barry, having spent months playing the lead in the sultan of schmaltz's musical, Copacabana. Here he repaid his debt. "We've invited along some party guests," he chirped. "Some old friends of Barry, some fans, and we'll be hearing from Barry himself, telling us of his rise from Brooklyn to Broadway to Hollywood to the world. So, with the candles gently flickering on the cake, and the root beer on ice, let's join the celebrations!"

There was an uneasy moment when Gary first referred to Barry's Brooklyn roots. "He is, without doubt," he said, grappling for the appropriate superlative, "one of the biggest stars to emerge from that part of New York." This didn't sound that impressive. But Gary had come to praise Barry, not bury him. "Could it be magic?" he asked. "It most definitely is," he answered, "when it comes from the pen of Barry Manilow. …