Watching it when it was originally recorded and again now on DVD, it is hard to believe that this was recorded in a studio. The cramped layout and rather seedy appearance coupled with an audience who looked like they might be regular club members gave no hint that it was not genuine.
Central to the shows was the often sharp banter between Colin Crompton - supposed Club Chairman and the overweight Compere, Bernard Manning. There appeared to be genuine needle between the two - that "our Bernard" has just gone in the Guinness Book of Records - the first time a plane has taken off from from a kneeling position. And that Colin Crompton "had less meat on him than Lester Piggott's whip".
And the insults were not confined to each other, often they were directed at the acts - delivered as they came on, when they went off, and sometimes in the middle. Few quite big name stars escaped this treatment. Did they know in advance, did they hate it? Some looked none too pleased.
It was unlike any other TV comedy show. It remains so - a snap-shot of industrial Northern life, circa 1974. Or so it appears to a Southerner - and worth cherishing and enjoying.
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