Sunday, December 28, 2008


I'd say that my "favourite" (in other words, least bad) posts of 2008 were the Billy Joel post and the Bill Cotton post. Perhaps I should just write about blokes called Bill in future?

I wasn't aware of a Billy Joel documentary being shown over Christmas, but BBC2 gave over an evening to acknowledge the passing of Sir Bill Cotton.

We watched the documentary The Man Who Made Eric & Ernie.

As is usually the case nowadays, talking heads were drifted in to spout platitudes about Sir Bill.

In fact, there weren't any words from Bill Cotton himself. No old footage of him talking about his contribution to what's regarded as a golden age of TV, or indeed, his run ins with egotistical celebs (as mentioned in my post, hem hem).  

Lining up to lavish praise on him were the likes of Michael Parkinson, Jimmy Perry and David Croft, Michael Grade, Eddie Braben and Ronnie Corbett (wearing a jacket with the sort of gilt buttons that only someone with Variety Club Of Great Britain and Water Rat connections could get away with).

Eddie Braben described Bill's "... wonderful smile ... his face was built for a smile.  He'd got lovely chubby cheeks".  I'm sure that all of the viewers shed a tear.

Bill's non-appearance gave him the aura of a friendly, avuncular ghost, presumably looking down from Heaven, remaining  within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails ...

... or smiling with those lovely chubby cheeks.

We saw some TV clips that we'd seen a million times before.  They were the right clips, but they weren't necessarily in the right order.

At least I was able to see Bob Swipe's point, made in a recent podcast, about the uncanny resemblance between Melvyn Hayes and Iggy Pop, which your correspondent has demonstrated here by the medium of crap photography and Sky Plus.

Holy pause button, Batman!  I should apologise to any Windsor Davies fans for obscuring the great man's face.

Jimmy Perry and David Croft are starting to look very old indeed.

Ronnie Corbett's voice is getting deeper and deeper ...

... but not as deep as that of narrator Frances De La Tour, whose voice is now as  woody, resonant and dark as an empty port barrel.

Michael Grade wasn't wearing any braces.

Soon, there will be nobody left from the Golden Age Of Television, and Simon Cowell will control all of our lives, whether we like it or not.

Blankety Blank.

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Without the pics, how do you know it *wasn't* Billy Joel?

Or, for that matter, Billy Butlin, Billy Don'tbeahero or Bill Beaumont.
I couldn't understand why the great man wasn't permitted a few words himself (on film of course). Perhaps it would have shattered the enormous myth that Brucie and Eddie and Gradey were building up in our minds? **tries to think of other examples of people who are a big dissappointment when they open their mouth and only comes up with Steve Redgrave, WIN and Chrises Evans and Moyles**

It is a bit of an indictment that the tribute evening was more entertaining than a lot of current TV. A packet of Werthers Originals and a Daily Mail Please, thanks, mutter mutter mutter....
For a brief moment, I felt sorry for poor old Bill Cotton; when Eric and Ernie bogged off back to ITV because they'd had a better offer, BC took it personally. It was almost like a bereavement to him.

Then I remembered that Bill and the Beeb had nicked the two funsters from the other side by the cunning trick of waving more money at them.

Alas, even in the Golden Age of Television (as in the glory days of Hollywood) it was a dirty old dog-eat-dog world.

And in a few years' time, when we're all paying three hundred quid for our tv licences, these old clip shows will still be better viewing than anything else on the box. By then, Bill and Lew and all the other moguls will probably have been canonised or even become saints. Halle-bloomin'-lujah!
Ooh blankety blank. There were half a dozen of us playing an ancient board game version of the show round me mams house over Christmas and I surprised myself by being able to remember the exact 'bleep bleep' sound that used to come on whenever someone won the climactic 'Head to Head'... at least I think I remembered it right, must go over to YouTube to check out an old episode (whatever did we do before the internet??...)
That's dead clever is that Bettster. You should do a blog on how you managed to superimpose a picture of the cover of Lust for Life taken from Sky + onto a photo of Melvyn Hayes and Windsor Davies...

I caught the end of the Bill Cotton show. Was I alone in feeling a bit cheesed off with Eric & Ernie when they jumped ship like that? I was going to say that they only did 2 great sketches after they left the Beeb. Then I saw the Singin' in the rain' one on the 1976 show and realised they'd only done one - the kitchen striptease one....or was that on the Beeb too?

Happy New Year me deario


p.s. prune wunderkindification: monspod - honest. I'm not making it up...
"Perhaps I should just write about blokes called Bill in future?"

You can always write about me...

*attempts to flutter eyelashes*
Melvin and Iggy look very much like Burt "Boy Wonder" Ward from the 60s Batman - or is this just me?

Having said that, Burt looks just like one of the guys from Still Game these days.
Tim - because nothing was said about Uptown Girl, holiday camps, Paper Lace or cauliflower ears.

Murph - I suppose Bill's non-appearance made him seem more enigmatic. By the end he seemed like a legend, a giant who had walked among mere mortals. Mind you, I had had a lot to drink by that time. Morecambe & Wise or The X-Factor. Difficult choice, isn't it?

Chris - I suppose TV has always been a cut throat world. At least Morecambe & Wise were more worthy of the money being thrown at them than the likes of, I dunno, Peter Kay are nowadays. With so many satellite channels you'd think that there would be room for more interesting programming, but it seems that everything is audience driven and so many of those stations show the same old shit. Perhaps I'm just seeing things through rose tinted goggles, though. A lot of '60's/'70's TV was absolutely dire too.

Crinkle - I've not seen Blankety Blank in an age. Most of it has been erased from my memory, apart from Terry Wogan's *hilarious* microphone and the constant appearance of Lorraine Chase as a guest for no apparent reason. The theme music MUST have been a Ronnie Hazlehurst job though ...

Bob - the way that picture was taken will be steeped in mystery for ever more, especially as it was the only one in which there wasn't a bloody great big black line across Melvyn Hayes' eyes. I think the kitchen striptease sketch was on the BBC as well. I think my parents refused to watch M & W on ITV on principle. In fact, ITV was pretty much banned from our house apart from the football. Bloody stupid idea if you ask me.

Billy - you know, when I was writing that line I thought "I bet Billy sends a comment now". Perhaps I should just include stuff that provokes different bloggers into commenting in future? Especially as the number of comments have been getting lower and lower on recent posts.

Malc - I've just Googled all parties concerned and it seems you're right. Mind you, people start to look alike as they get older. In life, babies start off looking like each other, and old people revert to looking like each other. Here endedth the thought for the day.
Mrs Malc asks if that means I'm going to end up looking like Clooney. If so, "woohoo!!" Apparently.
Malc - I'll be looking forward to old age if all men end up looking like Gary Oldman meself.
I couldn't not respond to that!

Every time I have attempted to provoke blogger into commenting it has never worked... ho hum.
Billy - I suppose there are ways of getting bloggers to comment though. Say it's your birthday - or you're giving up blogging - or mention Wife In The North.
Of course, Melvyn's just blown it by appearing in that effing car insurance ad....

(Nice pecs, mind...for an over made up mincer)


rune verisimmilitude: hatimast

Didn't Sykes have one of those?
Bob - I've not seen the ad. Is he topless? At his age? Word verification: finepairofshoulders
It occurs to me that there just may not actually BE any footage of Bill Cotton talking on camera. Presumably cos he was too busy being the humble legend described to waffle on in a self agrandising manner on screen. Which makes him even more marvellous.
... or perhaps he had a weirdly incomprehensible speech impediment like Lester Piggott? Anyway, it's avoiding interviews is always a good tactic. Leave 'em wanting more, I say.
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