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It's not all Monty Python, A celebration of British and Irish comedy.

 
 
Reply Mon 9 Mar, 2020 11:05 am
As the title says, this is a thread dedicated to British comedy. I won't be posting anything by Monty Python because that's been done to death, or Benny Hill because he was ****.

He was from beastly Eastleigh after all.

I will be posting things individual Pythons did, not Fawlty Towers though because it's too well known.

I'm going to start this thread by posting a couple of skits by The Goons.

Knowing where to start is quite tricky with a tradition that goes back to Shakespeare, but you've got to start somewhere. The Goons were the first surreal comedy that appeared shortly after WW2, and seen as the trailblazers for Python and others. Back then it was all on the radio.



This short sketch features the voices of Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan, and is very good.

For those who want to see/hear a bit more this is the last ever Goons show, full length.



Michael Bentine was also a Goon, but not in the above.

I'm not including Irish comedy in some vain imperial attempt, I'm including it because so much Irish and British comedy is intertwined. Many Irish comedians came over here to work because the Catholic Church made it almost impossible to get their stuff broadcast over there, Dave Allen being a prime example, but that's for later. Enjoy, and feel free to post yourselves.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 11 • Views: 1,257 • Replies: 77
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izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Mar, 2020 11:24 am
One of the first TV outings for satirical comedy was a show in the 1960s fronted by David Frost called That Was The Week That Was, or TWTWTW. As well as discussing the week's events it also had lots of sketches, like this one featuring Ronnie Barker, Ronnie Corbett and John Cleese.

izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2020 01:43 am
@izzythepush,
David Frost went on to produce this programme which brought members of the Cambridge review to prominence.

Quote:
At Last the 1948 Show is a satirical television show made by David Frost's company, Paradine Productions (although it was not credited on the programmes), in association with Rediffusion London. Transmitted on Britain's ITV network in 1967, it brought Cambridge Footlights humour to a broader audience.

The show starred Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Marty Feldman and Aimi MacDonald. Cleese and Brooke-Taylor were also the programme editors. The director was Ian Fordyce. Chapman and Cleese would later be among the founders of the Monty Python comedy troupe, and several of the sketches first performed in At Last the 1948 Show would later be performed by Monty Python in various formats.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At_Last_the_1948_Show


https://i.ytimg.com/vi/PQUHKPN9fg8/hqdefault.jpg

The famous 4 Yorkshiremen "Python" sketch from the show.



This is the first episode of the show if anyone wants to see a bit more.

0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2020 02:08 am
This was the other big pre Python show. I did watch it, but was very little and only remember watching it, not what was on it.

Quote:
Do Not Adjust Your Set (DNAYS) was a British television series produced originally by Rediffusion, London, then, by the fledgling Thames Television for British commercial television channel ITV from 26 December 1967 to 14 May 1969. The show took its name from the message (frequently seen on the TV screen in those days) which was displayed when there was a problem with transmission.

It included early appearances of Denise Coffey, David Jason, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin; the last three became members of the Monty Python comedy troupe soon afterwards. Although originally conceived as a children's programme, it quickly acquired a following amongst many adults,[1including future Pythons John Cleese and Graham Chapman (as mentioned by Cleese himself in the stage performance tour "Paying My Ex-Wife", in October 2010).

Satirical comedy/art/pop group The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band also performed a song or two in each programme and frequently appeared as extras in sketches. The programme itself comprised a series of frequently satirical sketches, often presented in a bizarre, surreal and disjointed style which anticipates Monty Python's Flying Circus, which followed five months after the last episode of DNAYS. Strange animations between sketches were crafted for the final episodes by the then-unknown Terry Gilliam, who soon graduated to Python with Palin, Jones and Idle – part of Gilliam's "Christmas cards" animation reappeared there in the "Joy to the World" segment.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Do_Not_Adjust_Your_Set

The Captain Fantastic sketch.



The Captain Fantastic song performed by Eric Idle with the Bonzos.




And a full episode for those who have the time.

0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2020 03:04 am
@izzythepush,
It was never cut and dried who was going to be in Monty Python, with the exception of Carole Cleveland the troupe was made up of members of the last two shows. I'm going to talk about those other members who did not become Pythons.

Marty Feldman had his own show before moving to America to work with Mel Brooks. He took Tim Brooke Taylor with him, not to America, but to his own show.

0 Replies
 
hightor
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2020 03:27 am
Hey, thanks! This is great stuff! I first heard the Goons in the late '50s and when I was a teen I had a job working with a British ex-pat, an old collier, and he used to regale us with excerpts of their skits.
0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2020 04:16 am
Prior to joining Python Cleese and Tim Brooke Taylor were both in a radio comedy called I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again. So much British comedy started off on the radio.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I%27m_Sorry,_I%27ll_Read_That_Again<br />
The cast also included Bill Oddie and Graeme Garden. These three went on to form The Goodies another very successful comedy that ran through the 70s. It was on a bit earlier than Python so was more family friendly.

0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2020 04:39 am
David Jason, (Captain Fantastic,) was not as successful. He tried various outings which only lasted for one season, like Lucky Fella and A Sharp Intake of Breath.

He was very successful in a supporting role, especially playing opposite Ronnie Barker. First in the prison comedy Porridge where he played an old lag popular with the other prisoners.



The young prisoner at the beginning of the scene, Godber, is played by David Beckinsale, the father of Kate.

Here Jason and Barker swap ages, where he plays Granville to Barker's Arkwright in Open All Hours.
[/i]



All this changed when he landed the leading role of cockney wide boy Del Boy in the hugely successful Only Fools and Horses which remains the most popular sitcom in the UK.



0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2020 06:59 am
Peter Cook and Dudley Moore were on the BBC at the same time as the Pythons, and lots of comparisons were drawn.

In my opinion Peter Cook is the funniest man that's ever walked this Earth. He, unlike Dudley Moore, never really made it in America. He was in a second rate sit com as an English butler, a stereotypical role that pretty much any British actor could do.

Not taking anything away from Dudley Moore, because he was an excellent comic and also a classical pianist, but Peter Cook was by far the funnier of the two as theses clips show.







One day after getting drunk together Pete and Dud mucked about with some tapes. Somehow these tapes got into the hands of bands like the Rolling Stones and the character of Derek and Clive started to become an underground hit.

When the pair heard of this, they released them themselves. Derek and Clive are obscene and if you're offended by such stuff don't watch. I think they're very funny, but I've always had a crude sense of humour.

0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2020 07:59 am
In the 60s and to a lesser extent the 70s there was a big divide between the BBC and ITV. Actors and comics would tend to work for one side or the other and seldom moved between channels, unlike today.

This was the case with Tommy Cooper, he auditioned for the BBC and was turned down because he didn't fit in with their toffee nosed sensibilities. He went on to work for ITV and at the time was the highest paid comic in the UK.

He started off as a magician, but soon realised that people preferred it when the tricks went wrong.



He famously died on stage, literally.
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2020 08:13 am
@izzythepush,
Tommy Cooper may have been the highest paid individual comic but he wasn't the highest paid act. That was Morecombe and Wise, they got paid more but had to spit it between the two of them.

They were an institution back in the 70s, and were as much a part of Christmas as Turkey and stuffing.

This is one of their classic routines.



Here they are with The Beatles.



And Elton John.



This is the full length Christmas special from 1969.


0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2020 09:17 am
Jimmy Perry and David Croft were a writing pair whose work spanned the 60s through to the 80s.

Jimmy Perry was an aspiring actor who wrote a screenplay with himself as one of the characters. The BBC didn't want him to act, but they liked the idea so they teamed him up with David Croft. The first three comedies they wrote were based on Perry's life. When WW2 broke out he was too young to join the regular army to he joined the Home Guard.

Dad's Army is a comedy about the Home Guard a bunch of old men and young boys unfit for active service with the regulars. This is probably the most famous scene in which Captain Mainwaring argues with a group of German POWs.



As the war progressed Perry joined the regular army and was posted off to Burma where he worked in a concert party entertaining the troops. This became the second comedy It Ain't Half Hot Mum.

Although v dated by today's standards, the main Indian role being played by an Englishman, it did give lots of Indian actors their first big break and they all speak very highly of it. Also the Englishman in question was a fluent Urdu speaker who had lived in India. Not the same league as the but buts of Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Apu from The Simpsons.



After the war Perry worked as a redcoat at Butlins which became the inspiration for Hi de Hi.



To be honest I didn't really like it very much, his writing took a dive and later forays in writing only tended to last a season before being cancelled.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Perry

Earlier on I mentioned how actors would be with either the BBC or ITV with very little crossover. Dad's Army changed that, Arthur Lowe who played Captain Mainwaring was an actor from ITV and the BBC were reluctant to cast him but the writers got their way.
0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2020 09:43 am
Ray Galton and Alan Simpson were another comedy writing pair who cast a long shadow even though they're really only known for two series, Hancock's Half Hour and Steptoe and Son.



Tony Hancock was incredibly popular but wracked with self doubt and ultimately quite tragic.

My memory fails me, Hancock's Half Hour was the name of the radio series, when it transferred to television it was just Hancock.

Steptoe and Son was sold to America where it became Sanford and Son with a black cast. I honestly don't know how I feel about that, I like the fact that black actors are getting jobs, but not the underlying message that white people are too good for that sort of work.

Wilfred Brambell also played John Lennon's grandfather in Hard day's Night.


0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2020 09:48 am
The Wrong Box is a film that came out in 1966 which features a lot of the aforementioned comics. The whole film is on youtube so I've included both it and the trailer.





There's far worse ways to spend a wet Sunday afternoon than watching that particular gem.
0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2020 09:55 am
Man About The House is another sold to America. I think it was called Three's Company, but I'm not sure.

It was incredibly popular and, like Steptoe and Son, spawned a cinema release, but it wasn't really my thing.

0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2020 10:04 am
Leonard Rossiter was an outstanding comedy actor in the late 60s early 70s. He's one of the figures who dies at the beginning of The Wrong Box, but I don't think it was a speaking role. He was also in Kubrick's 2001 A Space Odyssey.

Over here he's best known for two roles, that of Rigsby, the penny pinching landlord in Rising Damp. This was another ground breaking series that included a black well educated character called Phillip who fooled Rigsby into believing he was an African prince.

In this, Rigsby was the one who always looked stupid whilst Phillip was the smartest one in the house. It also includes Richard Beckinsale, (Kate's Dad,) and Frances de la Tour who you may have seen in the Harry Potter films.


izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2020 10:10 am
@izzythepush,
His other role was that of frustrated middle manager Reggie Perrin who fakes his own death in an attempt to start a new life.



And he starred in the biopic Le Petomane about a professional farter.

0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2020 11:43 am
One sitcom that definitely wasn't sold to America was Citizen Smith. "Wolfie" Smith is the self styled leader of the Tooting Popular Front. He's a wannabe revolutionary, but ultimately a failure. This is from the last episode where after waking up after a camping trip to Salisbury Plain they find an abandoned tank and decide to start the revolution.



hightor
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2020 11:51 am
How about this?

izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2020 01:57 pm
@hightor,
I saw a production of that with Ian Marter, (Dr Harry Sullivan from Doctor Who,) playing Potso. It was very good.
0 Replies
 
 

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