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The Secret Life of Bob Monkhouse (2011)

When Bob Monkhouse's widow died and his house was being prepared for market, the amazing extent of his private collection of video and audio recordings was realized. Among them were many ... See full summary »


Andy Humphries


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Complete credited cast:
Julian Rhind-Tutt ... Himself - Narrator
Bob Monkhouse ... Himself (archive footage)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Anne Aston ... Herself
Ronnie Corbett ... Himself
Barry Cryer Barry Cryer ... Himself
Dabber Davis Dabber Davis ... Himself - Agent 1949-1966
Kevin Day Kevin Day ... Himself
Colin Edmonds Colin Edmonds ... Himself
Denis Goodwin Denis Goodwin ... Himself (archive footage)
Suki Goodwin ... Herself
Michael Grade Michael Grade ... Himself
David Hamilton David Hamilton ... Himself
Lenny Henry ... Himself
Dominic Holland Dominic Holland ... Himself
Dave Ismay Dave Ismay ... Himself


When Bob Monkhouse's widow died and his house was being prepared for market, the amazing extent of his private collection of video and audio recordings was realized. Among them were many treasures which had previously been believed to be lost to the nation. This films delves into just some of the highlights of that trove, and reveals the multi-layered man behind the glossy TV persona. Written by Anonymous

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Release Date:

3 January 2011 (UK) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Color | Black and White (archive footage)
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Did You Know?


The Monkhouse archive contained 3000 audio tapes, 2000 photographs, 10 filing cabinets full of scripts, 50,000 VHS tapes, 400 film prints and one million jokes. See more »

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User Reviews

Routine Trot Through the Life of a Great Comic, Enlivened by Unique Archive Video
10 October 2014 | by l_rawjalaurenceSee all my reviews

The title of this BBC documentary is a bit of a misnomer: we learn little about THE SECRET LIFE OF BOB MONKHOUSE from Andy Humphries' work, even though we have a lot of analysis of his public life.

Monkhouse was an obsessive; someone who studied carefully the work of the great American comedians of the post-1945 era, and as a result developed his own unique style of rapid-fire gags that was quite at odds with traditional British music-hall values. He was immensely successful at a young age, forging a scriptwriting partnership with Denis Goodwin, and later branching out on his own as a comic and writer. His movie career was a bit of a damp squib - apart from a leading role in the very first Carry On film, CARRY ON SERGEANT (1958), he did little of note.

Monkhouse reached his peak of fame in the late Sixties and early Seventies, as temporary compere of Sunday NIGHT AT THE London PALLADIUM and as host of the long-running quiz THE GOLDEN SHOT. Uniquely capable of covering up even the largest fluffs on a live show, he transformed the latter show into a Sunday-afternoon fixture; when ATV sacked him from the program, due to a bribery scandal, its ratings abruptly declined. Monkhouse was clearly upset by the decision, but he managed to continue his television career as a quiz show host, and later on as a chat show presenter. When he died at 75, he was still one of television's most bankable stars.

The documentary paints a clichéd picture of a man with a perpetual smile on screen and a complicated private life. In his younger days he had to cope with a son who had cerebral palsy; in latter life, his first marriage fell apart. What was perhaps most interesting about him was his passion for collecting: matchbox tops, food tins, tapes, LPs and videos. When his second wife died, and the contents of his house were revealed, his relatives found over 10,000 VHS tapes. Some of them contained unique records of TV variety, much of which had been wiped from the BBC and/or ITV archives.

Watching some of the crackling clips in black-and-white was like entering a different world in which variety still held sway in British television. Monkhouse was one of the first comics to move beyond those restrictions and become a genuinely televisual personality (even though he was equally capable as a stand-up comic). We shall not see his like again, sadly.

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