September 2005

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Robert's settling in with his monthly column.

Robert RossSeptember 2005

Hello folks, calling folks…and would you believe it…this is my fifth Laughter Lines.  I know, it seems like I’ve been here for years…an eternity in fact!

Anyway, first and foremost, I urge all of you with the merest passing interest in comedy to come along to BAFTA on Thursday 29 September for the inaugural ‘Ha Ha: Best of British Comedy Lunch’.  An exclusive industry fundraising event for the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund, the day starts at 12:30 and includes a three course meal with wine, live entertainment from 2005 Perrier award winners direct from Edinburgh and a table host in the shape of one of our best-loved comedy talents.  Guests naturally appear subject to work and family, but include the gurus of sitcom writing Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, Manuel himself Andrew Sachs and the living legend that is Neil Innes: Rutle and gentleman!

If you are interested in attending please contact Sophie Pacellini on 020 7439 2966 or e-mail quoting me as your source.  Early Bird tickets cost £95 per person if you book before 1 September.  After that date tickets will cost you £115 per person…but rest assured it ALL goes to a very good cause indeed.

Sad news that I hadn’t reported as yet is that familiar character actor Jimmy Thompson died in April at the age of 79.  As a theatre director he worked with Mollie Sugden on My Giddy Aunt and Peggy Mount on Blythe Spirit, but he will be best remembered as a stooge for those sixties television icons Pinky and Perky.  As well as notable film roles for producer Peter Rogers, including three Carry Ons (Regardless, Cruising and Jack: unforgettable as a dying Nelson) and the musical academy romp, Raising the Wind.

Hardly comedy is Neil Jordan’s masterful The Company of Wolves which arrives on dvd in the next few weeks.  Comic however was the day I spent recording the audio commentary with the writer and director.  Usually these things take place in Soho or Wardour Street or some such cosy environ of West London.  This time, due to Neil’s work commitments, it was necessary for us to travel to Barcelona.  Glorious heat, the expected language problem and the equally expected technical hitches were easily overcome by our generous hosts and the resulting yak track is pretty damn good.  Other dvds, even more imminent, include Granada’s bumper edition of Brideshead Revisited…equally not comedy but hilarious to work on and, besides, Summer Wine’s Bill Owen gives a stonking performance.  Keep an eye out for series one of Alexei Sayle’s Stuff, series two of Are You Being Served? and the complete Brittas Empire, all coming down your comedy alley soon.

Well that’s me done for this month.  Please try and help the CTBF and attend the Best of British luncheon.  It promises to be a real hoot.  See you there…and if not, see you next month.

Robert Ross

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