May 2007

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We've stopped Mr Ross cavorting around a May Pole long enough to send us this month's offering.
‘May Day! May Day!’
While others may think of the fresh dew adding a radiant sheen to the fairest of complexions, my thoughts always stray to Tony Hancock in The Radio Ham. But that’s the curse/blessing (delete as you feel fit) of being a bloke submerged in the best of comedy.

Welcome to the ‘birthday message’ in terms of Laughter Lines. Yes, as those who know me, will know. I’m a Gemini. In other words not to be trusted! But you CAN trust this ‘semi-regular’ (no titters at the back there, A-M) round up of comedy on television, stage, radio, DVD and anywhere else I might find myself wandering.

I suppose I should really begin by looking forward rather than looking back. To the heady heights of Collectormania 11 which takes place in Milton Keynes over the long Bank Holiday weekend of 4th-7th May. I’ll be hanging out with my two legends of comedy guests: Bernard Cribbins and Terry Jones. I’ll be there on the Saturday and the Sunday of the signing event. So please pop along and say ‘hello’. You can even buy me a beer if you are so inclined. Should be fun.

On the DVD front, my shelves are crying out under the strain. Another bumper crop of releases has landed on my ‘to watch’ pile, including the complete Ever Decreasing Circles featuring six exclusive audio commentaries with stars Richard Briers, Penelope Wilton and Peter Egan. And me. The Two Ronnies, series one: an essential purchase which, hopefully, ushers in a complete release of the classic sketch show. And the complete Huggetts series, which should be up for pre-order just about now. This very welcome release features an extensive booklet by yours truly, as well as, more importantly, all four films featuring Jack Warner and Kathleen Harrison as the plucky Pa and Ma Huggett. Namely: Holiday Camp (a 1947 ensemble masterpiece, notably co-starring Dennis Price as a rather bad egg), Here Come the Huggetts, Vote For Huggett and The Huggetts Abroad. A lovely nostalgic wallow in a box!

On the box, itself, we have been ‘treated’ to Ruddy Hell! It’s Harry and Paul. Now, I’ve always been very fond of Mr Enfield. His Norbert Smith – A Life alone being enough to secure him a place in the Comedy Hall of Fame. And Mr Whitehouse too. If Johnny Depp thinks he’s the best actor alive today than who am I to disagree. However, this latest series has proved a misfire. I have to admit that the over-enthused Radio Times hack that commented that it was the comedy equivalent of Paul and Ringo having a jamming session got up my nose a bit. That would surely be Michael Palin and Terry Jones presenting a special Ripping Yarns or Leslie Phillips and Bernard Cribbins remaking Comedy Playhouse: Impasse.

Rob Brydon’s Annually Retentive is a little better. Although it fails to showcase the great comedian at his very best and, naturally, lingers in the long shadow of The Larry Sanders Show. But it’s certainly worth trawling through BBC3 in order to give it a go.

And there’s always New Tricks. The delightfully ungritty crime comic-drama with regular old-timers Dennis waterman and James Bolam, regularly sparring with even older old-timer guest stars like Roy Hudd, Geoffrey Bayldon, June Whitfield and the sainted George Cole. It’s just such a crime that the makers of the film St. Trininan’s offered the original Flash Harry a wordless cameo (which he declined) rather than a showy supporting role as the flash Grandfather of Russell Brand: the new Harry.

Anyway, I think I’ve rambled on for as long as I need to it. Any presents are welcome on 24th May. Just don’t buy me any copies of my own books! [Damn...where did I put that receipt! - A-M]

Robert Ross

Page Last Updated Wednesday, July 18, 2007 at 11:48:22