It's been said of Eddie Izzard that he doesn't do gags, he just goes onstage and does Eddie Izzard. The same was always true of Frankie Howerd at his best, and the best material on this tape is Frankie Howerd just being Frankie Howerd. The way he worked was simply an excuse for him to be there. That is why the extended "prrrrologues" of the Up Pompeii
TV series (excerpted here) were always so funny, and why the subsequent movie (wisely passed over), which obliged him to wrestle with something approximating a plot, was not. The compilers of this tape have obviously recognised this. They have sensibly included chat-show appearances (some viewers may find Michael Parkinson's early hairstyles distressing), excerpts from one-man shows and the occasional scripted item which managed to do justice to Howerd's world-weary, conspiratorial demeanour. Much of the best material is drawn from his early career and is unlikely to be seen very often elsewhere, so fans should grab this while they can. --Roger Thomas
Frankie Howerd became one of the nations best-loved comics as the result of a roller-coaster career with many sharp turns, exhilarating highs and sudden dizzying drops. As early as his first television series, The Howerd Crowd
, in 1952 he had developed the act that would last the rest of his career: rolled eyes, asides to the audience, the sudden switch to a high pitched voice and exaggerated ooohs and aaahs. Howerds famous catchphrases have become part of the national vocabulary (Ooh er missus!, Titter ye not, Oooh no!) and his cosy but risque rapport with the audience in stand-up, cabaret and sit-com is often emulated but never surpassed.
This compilation draws together the very finest Howerd moments from his numerous stand-up and sketch shows (Nuts in May, An Evening with Francis Howerd, Howerds History of England) as well as classic moments from the Carry On inspired sit-com Up Pompeii!