Bye Bye Bygraves

Max Bygraves was the last of the music hall-style stars, a working class East Ender-made-good who performed at the ends of piers and filled the summer seasons. Cheesy, corny and yet strangely charming, his success was based on hard work and the ability to communicate easily. He became Britain’s top performer, and a legend. Many […]

When Fat Was Fat

He was the most prolific author in history, so why have you never heard of him? Owen Conquest, Martin Clifford, Ralph Redway, Winston Cardew and Peter Todd were authors with something in common; they were alter-egos of the writer Charles Hamilton, born into a large family in 1876. Tales of schooldays and derring-do filled the […]

TV Experiments & ‘Taxpayers’ Money’

Every few years there’s an attempt to change people’s idea of what opera might be. I’m not much of a fan of long, impenetrable Wagnerian opera, or trippery-frippery Italian plots involving mistaken identities and dying courtesans. Some of the music is wonderful, of course, but too much is demanded of modern audiences who can’t relate […]

It’s All Getting A Bit Modern

This morning my moisturiser emailed me. It’s very well, thank you, and would like to be remembered as a New Year’s Gift, whatever that is. My hair product is on Facebook and leaves me little messages. My trousers haven’t started tweeting, but it’s only a matter of time. New year, new tech. Yesterday I watched […]

Television? What’s That?

A funny conversation over the weekend with a friend who doesn’t own a TV and is being bullied by the government to buy a licence. It seems they can’t grasp that someone might not own a TV, and are now threatening him to buy a licence or got to court. While we have a TV, […]

Lady For Sale

Lady Penelope, the Thunderbirds agent with the whispery voice and vulgar accessories, is being flogged off by Bonhams the auctioneers. She’s expected to fetch a few bob, being an icon and all. Tragically, Working Title ballsed up the film version, having had years to get the thing right, but to some of us she will […]

Television’s Argument For Eugenics

Laughing at working class people has always been popular on British television, but ‘The Only Way Is Essex’ takes it to a new level, making ‘Jersey Shore’ look like ‘Don Giovanni’. Of course, these rubber-breasted robots and their knuckledragging mates don’t think they’re working class – they’ve got the vulgarity of the middle classes, so […]

An Admission

Stumbling across this picture in the paper, I thought ‘those children look annoying’ and then was shocked to realise that the still came from ‘The X Factor’, a show I have never seen and only faintly heard of. This is not snobbery, but an admission of failure on my part. An old boss once told […]

Happy Birthday Monty Python

I grew up with the Pythons on TV and eventually worked with most of them on their different film projects (you can see a sketch John Cleese and I wrote on the ‘A Fish Called Wanda’ DVD extras), but I haven’t watched the shows in years. Recently the 40th anniversary celebrations drew me back, and […]

Comics 2:The Funniest British Shows

I find it hard to keep comedy out of the Bryant & May novels, but my sense of humour is very particular. Every decade has produced something wonderful, from Hancock to Python to Peep Show, and I’ve realised that while there were shows I hated (‘The Royle Family’) I best enjoy a surreal mix of […]