David Parkin goes Large, reconnects old friends and gets on with his ironing

VETERAN comedian and performer Roy Hudd died a couple of weeks ago aged 83, just as the lockdown started.

He was perhaps the last link to music hall in this country who also appeared on TV soap opera Coronation Street.

I hope one of the broadcasters produces a fitting tribute to a man who was a great historian of British music hall and performed as both Max Miller and Bud Flanagan.

Then yesterday there was the news that Eddie Large had died aged 78, a high profile victim of the coronavirus.

The bigger half of double act Little and Large, he and Syd Little were household names in the 1970s and 1980s with their own primetime Saturday night show on the BBC after winning Opportunity Knocks in 1971.

The pair fell out but reunited a few years ago, appearing with Ant and Dec and on Pointless – it doesn’t get more popular than that on today’s TV.

Large’s death was but a footnote to the main report on the spread of COVID-19 on last night’s BBC news.

He deserves more of a tribute too.


ON the subject of comedians, regular reader, PR-man Richard Graham replied to the blog which included a clip of a Morecambe & Wise sketch.

“Well done on your latest blog – as always, insightful and funny – you’ve caught the mood just right.

Love the Morecambe & Wise sketch.  Do you remember the time they were on the Ed Sullivan TV show in the US (decades ago) where he introduced them as that great English comedy trio –

“Morry, Camby and Wise!”


Parky’s video clip of the week

THIS week’s offering is a routine created by comedian Jimmy James, who began his career in music hall.

After he died his son, James Casey, carried on his work and went on the Parkinson chat show in the 1980s to recreate his Dad’s famous Box Sketch along with Roy Castle – of Record Breakers fame – and the ever-lugubrious stooge Eli Woods.

It’s total nonsense, but warm, daft and slick at the same time.

James Casey was also a scriptwriter for BBC radio variety shows and sitcoms and became a senior BBC Radio light entertainment producer based in Manchester who discovered Ken Dodd, Les Dawson…and Hinge and Bracket.

I saw The Box Sketch performed by Casey and Woods at a variety show at the King’s Hall in Ilkley years ago.

The Roy Castle role was filled by Leeds solicitor Ian Shuttleworth, who in his spare time is an acclaimed after dinner speaker and plays the spoons to boot.

Ian told me at the time it was a career highlight to be involved in a sketch that has gone down in variety show history.

For me it was wonderful to see it performed live on a bill which also included a bird act (no, not that kind) and top of the bill was the late, great Hull comedian Norman Collier.

As Elvis said: “Such a night!”


What I’m looking forward to this week

I DO like watching a good war film.

I did my ironing while watching a promising film called Raid on Rommel on the TCM channel last weekend.

I say promising, because made in 1971, it starred Richard Burton as a British officer who leads a rag tag bunch of PoWs in a commando raid on the German guns defending Tobruk in North Africa.

The Dirty Dozen it wasn’t. This was clearly a part he took for the money.

He was the only recognisable name in the cast list which also featured an Italian actress who resembled a cut price Claudia Cardinale.

I don’t actually know what kind of an actress she was as she spent most of the film drugged to stop her alerting the Germans.

And the extensive scenes featuring Nazi commander Rommel and his officers had them all speaking German but accompanied by no subtitles.

I’m hoping my choice of war film this week will be better.

I like to watch these films on my own but the lockdown makes that difficult.

However the film I’m planning to watch is about a group of Russian soldiers captured by the Nazis on the Eastern Front in WW2.

I thought that was enough to put off anyone else from joining me but there was still some interest.

Until I told her it was in Russian with subtitles.


A MESSAGE arrives from Leeds-based copywriter Dave Robbins.

“Somewhat belatedly I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your piece about the Bradford Club and, in particular, your mention of Wilfred Shaw. He is one of life’s characters. My wife, Chris, and I met him by chance at a mutual friend’s 80th a few years ago. Our friend and Wilfred were lifelong pals and were very much ‘the likely lads’ in their youth. Wilfred was a great rock climber and has conquered all the Munros [which are peaks in Scotland over 3,000 feet].

“My wife’s family were all in the Bradford wool trade and during the course of the lunch it turned out that Wilfred knew many of Chris’s grandparents, aunts and uncles and other family friends, many via the Bradford Club.

“On a wider note, I’ve been to numerous dinners at the Club over the years. Your description of the place summed it up perfectly. In my view, it’s a well-hidden gem that reeks of Bradford’s great industrial history. I love it.

“I contacted Wilf to see if he was aware of your blog. He was polishing his 20 year old Jaguar (“the engine warning light’s been on for the past seven years but it keeps passing its MOT”) when I called. I subsequently received a lovely hand written letter with his address and email contact. Anyway, I printed off your COPA blog so I could reply in kind. As the bishop said to the actress: “You’ve made an old man very happy”.

“He’s also extended an invite for me to join him for lunch at the Bradford Club, as soon as life returns to normal. All down to you. Of course in his case, ‘normality’ may never quite return. Let’s hope so.

“I wouldn’t write to you at such length, but I suspect you may have a bit more time on your hands than is usual.”

You’re right there Dave.

And I’m delighted to have played a part in you catching up with Wilf again.


Reasons to be cheerful

LAST week’s mention of Joe Wicks, the ‘Body Coach’ who the media now call “the nation’s PE teacher” after he started daily workouts for children, prompted a few messages that underline how popular he is with a predominantly female audience.

I pointed out that with his dark curly tumbling tresses and muscled physique he has more than a passing resemblance to Jon Snow.

No, not from Channel 4 News, the one in the television fantasy drama Game of Thrones.

It’s just when he talks there might be a slight problem – he sounds like David Beckham after inhaling the contents of a helium balloon.

Other people have clearly noticed this too.

Susan Reid of Appeal PR in Harrogate sent this message: “I’ve just read your blog and had to let you know that my daughter and I were out in the garden at 7am doing a Joe Wicks workout (not the one for children!).

“It’s a good start to the day as he’s very easy on the eye, just a bit of a turn-off as soon as he speaks…”

That’s what people say about me – except the other way round…

Have a great weekend.

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