English Peculiar: Mr Pastry
While I was staying in a very English cottage Kent last weekend, I noticed that the guest book pointed out other former residents, including Mr Pastry. This one is as peculiar as it gets, so stay with me. Britain was once awash in novelty acts, from the man who sang ‘Mule Train’ while bashing himself on the head with a tin tea tray to Shirley Abicair and her zither.
Richard ‘Mr Pastry’ Hearne worked on and off for the BBC for 30 years and became the first performer to be known as a “television star”. He was also the first to have his own television series. In it he assumed the character of “Mr Pastry” – an old man with a walrus moustache, dressed in a black suit and bowler hat.
The Mr Pastry character had originated in the 1936 stage show Big Boy. A film was made but portrayed him as a pathetic figure coming out of prison, totally different from the TV series’ bumbling comic. Hearne came from a family of actors and acrobats, so his abilities were rather like Michael Crawford’s, being part slapstick, part all-round comic. Most famous bits include doing the Lancers by himself and being generally very, very annoying.