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Rushton's Mighty Great Flop
ShadeGrenade2 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
The late writer/cartoonist Willie Rushton was one of the cast of the groundbreaking B.B.C.-1 satire show 'That Was The Week That Was', appeared in several films such as 'Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines' ( 1965 ), was involved in 'Private Eye' magazine in its early days, and penned a host of books ( including the very funny 'Spy Thatcher', a parody of Peter Wright's 'Spycatcher' ). By the late '70's, he was appearing regularly in Bob Monkhouse's 'Celebrity Squares' ( usually occupying the middle square ) and an advert for Cadbury's 'Double Decker' chocolate bar ( "Its crunchy...its chewy!" ) which Graeme Garden later spoofed on 'The Goodies'.

In 1980, A.T.V. ( later Central ) gave him his own sketch show - 'Rushton's Illustrated' - which went out in the 8.00 slot on Monday nights. Produced and directed by Glyn Edwards ( also the producer of 'Tiswas' ) and co-starring the likes of Roy Kinnear, Hugh Paddick, Richard O'Brien, Norman Chappell and Caroline Villiers, it went down like the proverbial lead balloon and was swiftly dropped ( one edition went unscreened ). Repeats of 'George & Mildred' were hastily put on in its place.

The main problem ( as far as I could see ) was that its surreal comedy was inappropriate for a peak-time slot ( as L.W.T. found to its cost later that year with 'Fancy Wanders' ). There was no theme or structure either, it was disorganised chaos consisting simply of any and every funny idea which occurred to Rushton. Most fell on stony ground, such as the sight of a trio of zombies doing a soft-shoe shuffle whilst singing 'Me & My Shadow', before turning into a cartoon. Viewers were not amused ( I watched part of the first episode at a friend's house in baffled silence and, as the commercials came on, his Dad changed channels, muttering "Load of flippin' rubbish!" ).

Willie went back to doing what he was best at - being witty on other people's shows. He died on 11/12/1996, aged 59.
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