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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It just doesn't seem right that Harry Worth remains unremembered on the
Here was a bloke who rose from the most unpromising origins to bring a slapstick grin into most of our lives from the 1960's.
Beginning in ubiquitous black & white, his format of a bumbling, single bloke confounding everyone about him, became a staple of solo comedians of his time.
Although he was born one of many sons to a miner in comparatively impoverished circumstances, his transformation to lower middle-class clown was extremely well executed. There was no hint of his roots in any of his persona. Typically, he wore a light-coloured suit, shirt and tie, and a hat, with the name of which type I am unfamiliar. He also wore a thick pair of rather fashionable spectacles, which may or may not have been a prop. And he invariably carried that (then) other warranty of middle-class respectability - a furled brolly.
His shows featured a number of comedy sketches that invariably led to some kind of catastrophe. In one memorable incident, the Queen got a bucket of dirty water thrown at her (not really, of course!). Each show began with him walking down the street to jaunty theme music and rolling credits. At some point he stopped at the corner of a shop window. By positioning himself at just the right angle and lifting an arm and a leg, his composite reflection was seen to do likewise, giving him the appearance of having spectacularly levitated. It was a neat, simple and hilarious stunt that nobody seems to have done before, and of which Harry may claim full credit for its original use. The stunt became his trade-mark. At the time, lots of people - and not just kids - could be seen 'Doing a Harry'; and it says something of any person's influence that the behaviour of others can be changed by your own example. His show was never crude or smutty. A family could watch it without embarrassment.
He faded away in the early seventies on account of failing health (he had cancer) and changing social mores. But for a decade he had his own television show and was pretty much a staple of tasteful light entertainment. And you can't leave a better epitaph than that.
Well done, Harry.
It is rather sad that someone who could secure regular TV work for well
over a decade should be so little commented on. No doubt this is mainly
due to the low key nature of his comedy, nothing "edgy" about it. It is
hard to believe that more that 2/3 of his TV recordings were wiped. One
"recording" that will never be wiped is the opening to his show moments
after the BBC made a news announcement, unusually, between shows
stating that President Kennedy had been shot. The incongruity of the
news insert followed seconds later with the sheer silliness of a middle
aged man playing reflections on a shop window in his standard opening
is often rebroadcast when there is a documentary about Kennedy in order
to comment on how ill-prepared the BBC was to handle such news.
His radio recordings were mostly kept and the BBC is currently rebroadcasting them so you can recapture what held the attention of audiences for years.
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