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..but I like you! This was always a firm family favourite at my house
in the 70's. As a kid I used to find all his comic characters really
This isn't the sort of show that gets repeats though, like The Two Ronnies and Morcam and Wise. To be honest, you can see why, it didn't age very well.
Emery sure liked dressing up as a woman though, and his nazi is still very funny! Excellent nostalgia for any thirty somethings out there, and as there are very few repeats on TV, seeing Emery again really stirs up the dim memories of child hood :)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I once accompanied my late uncle on a Saturday afternoon shopping trip.
As we strolled around the centre, we spotted a smartly dressed man
carrying a handbag ( they were briefly fashionable in the early '70's.
In the 'To Alf A Grandson' episode of 'Till Death Us Do Part', Mike (
Tony Booth ) is seen with one ). I was prepared to say nothing, but my
uncle came out with out with "Hello, Honky Tonk, how are you?". The man
ignored the jibe, and carried on walking. He was probably used to it. A
few shoppers laughed. I for one was deeply embarrassed.
That was one of many catchphrases employed by the popular comedian Dick Emery, whose B.B.C.-1 show was a fixture of Saturday night television for the best part of two decades. He was not strictly speaking an impressionist, rather than copy famous people, he had his own repertoire of outrageous comic characters, among them the buck-toothed 'The Reverend Chislet', a bespectacled spinster called 'Hettie' whose determination to get a man knew no bounds, 'Ton-Up Boy', the lovable old codger 'James Maynard Kitchener Lampwick', 'Gaylord Screwsby', the bovver boy ( often accompanied by his similarly attired father, played by Roy Kinnear, who would try without success to give his son a masterclass in crime ), the upper-class tramp 'College', camp-as-a-row-of-tents 'Clarence', and not forgetting sex-pot 'Mandy' ( whose favourite saying was 'ooh you are awful, but I like you!' ).
Each week, these characters inhabited sketches usually written by John Warren and John Singer, beginning with a vox pop scene on film, in which a typically B.B.C. interviewer ( the late Gordon Clyde ) stopped passers-by to ask questions. Encountering Mandy, he wound up being pushed backwards into a hedge.
It is impossible to make grand claims for Emery's show as being groundbreaking, but it was certainly amusing in a seaside postcard sort of way. A lot of hard work went into the show, what with Emery playing most of the roles, and viewers appreciated it. My favourite sketches featured him as 'Bert', an incompetent D.I.Y. man who invited his best friend Wol ( Reg Lye ) to his house whenever he wished to show off his latest creations. Once, he converted his coal cellar into a men's drinking club complete with bar and pool table ( which naturally fell apart when they tried to play on it ). Another time Bert built his own film studio. Pat Coombs was often cast alongside the comedian, as his curler-headed neighbour. All together now: "Oo-er!".
Emery's show attracted impressive guest-stars such as Kate O'Mara, Yootha Joyce, and David Jason. 'Lampwick', the old codger with the throaty chuckle, lived with his beloved daughter Lil ( Helen Fraser ) and her husband Ernie ( Victor Maddern ), whom he did not get along with. So popular was he that the B.B.C. at one point contemplated giving him his own spin-off series.
However, in 1981, sensing that the format was becoming stale, Emery turned the show into 'Emery Presents', a six-part comedy thriller serial, of which two ( 'Legacy Of Murder' and 'Jack Of Diamonds' ) were made, the last of these transmitted posthumously as the star died in 1983. We shall never know whether or not he would have stayed successful or been consigned to the dustbin of history along with so many other old school comics.
In recent years, edited versions of his shows have been appearing at odd times on 'U.K. Drama Daytime' on Sky T.V. It would be great to see his entire output on D.V.D.
Emery may not have been groundbreaking, but was in his own way influential. Publicising his new B.B.C. series 'Harry Enfield's Television Programme' in 1990, the star admitted to having been a huge fan of Emery's when he was younger ( preferring him to 'Monty Python' ), and confessed that his show was a carbon-copy of his idol's.
Emery may have been awful, but we liked him!
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