Presented by Bob Monkhouse, this documentary looks at British camp comedians through the ages, from Syd Field in the Forties to Julian Clary and Lily Savage (aka Paul O'Grady) half a century later. Some of the more obvious candidates include Kenneth Williams, Frankie Howerd and Larry Grayson, but the program also looks at the work of Kenny Everett and John Inman. What emerges from a highly entertaining documentary is the sheer range of styles on offer, from the more aggressive persona of Williams to the more gossipy, urbane Grayson. This does not mean that Grayson's material wasn't as rude as that of Wllliams; he just found alternative means of raising laughs. The main attribute of camp, it seems, is to render the risqué palatable; to challenge the boundaries of respectability while keeping withing the bounds of "the best possible taste" (to invoke one of Everett's catchphrases). As times change, the humor has perhaps grown bawdier; a glance at the work of Savage/O'Grady or Julian Clary proves this. Sixteen years after this documentary's first broadcast, that process of extending the boundaries of acceptability continues; few of the older comedians would have ever dreamed of delivering the kind of material in ALLAN CARR: CHATTY MAN. On the other hand, the program demonstrates that the vein of camp has remained a staple part of British humor, and looks like continuing to do so for the foreseeable future. You may hate it, but you can't avoid it.
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