Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Bob Monkhouse: The Last Stand

Bob Monkhouse was around before any other post-war British comedian. He began writing for some of the top acts while he was still a schoolboy.

That means he was on the scene while the Goons, Eric Sykes and Benny Hill generation were still in the Army.

In the 1950s he was a television star. IN 1958 e shared top billing with William Hartnell in the first Carry On film - Carry On Sergeant.

Yet from the 1960s onwards he was best known as a quiz show compere.

Tucked away on BBC4 last night was a remarkable programme in which Monkhouse, filmed not long before his death, reclaimed his place in the history of British comedy.

You can watch Bob Monkhouse: The Last Stand on the BBC iPlayer for the next month.

The comedy website Chortle says of it:
This is quite a remarkable film about quite a remarkable gig; a real piece of comedy history. 
Bob Monkhouse is usually portrayed as something as a joke-delivering automaton, a master of memory and technique, but who puts very little of himself into his act, 
Yet here, among his own, he lets his guard down, not only to reveal some great anecdotes about his early life, but also some of his personal ideas about comedy. There’s the strong impression here that he sees himself as a bridge between the generations, speaking about what he learned from watching Max Miller, then answering Adam Bloom’s question about what tips he’d pass down. 
To see one normally reticent entertainer open up is a treat – a double is something even more extraordinary. 
For Monkhouse lured Mike Yarwood out of his hermit-like retirement for a rare chat that’s both brilliantly entertaining and touchingly poignant, as the man who was once the biggest thing on TV talks honestly about the insecurities that plagued him. 
It all adds to the palpable feeling that this was a very special show. 'You can’t get better than that,’ Monkhouse said as he left the stage to a standing ovation from his fellow comedians. Too bloody right.


David Loxton said...

Was never a big fan but alway liked - 'People laughed when I said I wanted to be a comedian, they're not laughing now'.

Frank Little said...

A constant theme in Monkhouse's personal expressions, as in Last Stand, was his admiration for professionalism and technique. He was primarily a writer, but made himself into a solo comedian.

I hope that BBC Radio (4 Extra, perhaps?) replays his interview by Anthony Clare In the Psychiatrist's Chair.