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Two Ronnies - Series 1 [DVD]
Two Ronnies - Series 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ronnie Barker
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £5.74

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars From Little Acorns, 2 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Two Ronnies - Series 1 [DVD] (DVD)
The quality of this DVD will probably disappoint most Two Ronnies' fans. Funny sketches are rare and the serial 'Hampton Wick' is second-rate. The best items are the musical parodies and there are two outings for the country-and western duo, Jehosophat and Jones. The first series was far more of a variety show than later ones with regular appearance by Tina Charles and New World plus comic turns by speciality acts.

A bit of a let-down, but we know there were great things to come.


The Pan Crossword Dictionary
The Pan Crossword Dictionary
by Mike Grimshaw
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Words can come easy, 10 Sep 2012
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Third edition of the book that is invaluable to both setters and solvers of crosswords. Three hundred and fifty pages of phrases and one hundred and sixty of words in numerical and alphabetical order. With the development of electronic gadgets, this may well the final book of the series. However, as a setter of crosswords, this a book I use regularly.


Funny, Peculiar: The True Story of Benny Hill
Funny, Peculiar: The True Story of Benny Hill
by Mark Lewisohn
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Serious tale of funny man, 26 Aug 2012
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Benny Hill is television's most successful comedian but unlike Morecambe and Wise and The Two Ronnies, his shows are no longer shown on British television. This book attempts to explain why.

The most interesting aspect of the book is how Benny Hill produced his comedy and his tendency to pinch other people's material. Mr Chow-Mein was a straight steal from American comedian Buddy Hackett and the funny William Shakespeare on the phone sketch was taken from Bob Hewhart. This made Benny unpopular with often comedy performers. However, the process was not one-way. The Monty Python Dead Parrot sketch had similarities to a comedy written by David Freeman for Benny called The Taxidermist and the famnous Two Ronnies Mastermind sketch was based on a Benny routine with a time delay.

Benny though a solitary person, had friends, though few close ones, and maintained relations with Dave Freeman despite an outrageous piece of business in which bought the copyright of their jointly written comedy for £1,000. He reused the material many times but did not give his former co-writer any further money.

I would preferred not to have read some of the more personal details of Benny's private life, but unfortunately prurience is a common feature in modern biographies.

Another criticism of the book is that it exaggerates his decline as a performer and his slide in popularity. A near 10 million audience on a Bank Holiday Monday for his last Thames show was still a high figure and over 11 million watched his repeat shows in 1992. Physically, he did not age well, there was a decline in his creativity, but if his shows had become as bad as Mark Lewisohn suggests then neither Central nor Thames would have seeking to make new programmes.

A interesting but flawed book about a comedy great. better than the Dennis Kirkland biography, whose close friendship to Benny undermined his objectivity. We are unlikely to see a television comedian of Benny's quality again - he was one of the true greats.


The Tracks of My Years: The autobiography
The Tracks of My Years: The autobiography
by Ken Bruce
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Radio man's story, 24 Aug 2012
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Ken Bruce differs from most broadcasters in that he enjoys the medium of radio for its own sake rather than as a means of getting onto television to become a celebrity.

He tells his tale undramatically, given his life of three wives and six children, relating events with a certain reticence. The story does come alive when he relates the difficulties of looking after an autistic child.

A surprising feature of his early radio days is how many of the programmes were produced after large quantities of alcohol had been consumed by many of the contributors. Surprisingly, the quality of the broadcasts do not seem to have been affected.

He deals philosophically with his up, down and up again Radio 2 career giving details of the
many programmes he has presented, in addition to his daily radio show. Taking a positive view of the Eurovision Song Contest deserves respect.

While not in the same class aa a writer that he is as broadcaster, Ken tells an intersting story that should be of interest to anyone who enjoys the radio.. Given his large family to support he should be with us for many years to come.


Kenneth Williams: Born Brilliant: The Life of Kenneth Williams
Kenneth Williams: Born Brilliant: The Life of Kenneth Williams
by Christopher Stevens
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tale of Troubled Genius, 24 Aug 2012
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Kenneth Williams was one of the finest of all radio comedians, making outstanding contributions to Hancock's Half Hour, Round the Horne, Just a Minute and many other comic series.

I was a fan of his but am relieved never to have met him, for he could be very unpleasant. The book mentions his appearances on Countdown during the early years of the programme but does not state whether the contributions ceased because of his frequent rudeness to the contesatants or for other reasons.

Another omission is reference any to Carry on Texas, which if it had been made with a decent script might have revived the series and led to further funny films.

The difficulty facing Christopher Stevens was many of Kenneth's associates are still alive and a certain
discretion had to be applied in deciding which stories could be told. Without reading Kenneth's full diaries it is hard to judge how well he did the job.

It is a pity Kenneth Williams never played a major dramatic role on television once he became a star. He undoubtedly had the talent to be famous as a serious actor and if he had applied himself in a major role his reputation would have been enhanced.

A book for all Kenneth Williams fans and one of interest to anyone who with an interest in comedy


The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club - The Complete Series 5 [DVD]
The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club - The Complete Series 5 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Bernard Manning
Price: £7.60

4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining variety from the 1970s, 15 Aug 2012
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Series 5, the last in the original format, is a big improvement on series 4. The highlights are Liverpudlian comic Eddie Flanagan, hilarious while saying practically nothing, comedy juggler Rob Murray and magician Paul Daniels, a few years before he made the big time.

A big mystery is how Cannon annd Ball became star performers when their basic act was so ordinary.

The most memorable feature of the DVD is the beauty contest in the final programme. To see classical actor Timothy West being introduced by Bernard Manning and sitting between Cyril Smith and Julie Goodyear is a sight to behold. One would love to know what his wife Prunella Scales thought! The contest was ineptly hosted by 1970s glamour boy Patrick Mower (presumably Michael Aspel was unavailable). If you play this episode to any feminists your DVD may not remain in playable condition for very long.

A mostly good watch for a variety of reasons.


Man About the House - George and Mildred : The Definitive Companion
Man About the House - George and Mildred : The Definitive Companion
by Tex Fisher
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not so funny, 27 July 2012
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Comedy can divide opinion more than any other subject and this book proves the point. Man About the House is my favourite ITV sitcom, but George and Mildred was not in the same class and if you view the later sitcom alongside, The Good Life, another comedy based on class and culture differences, you can appreciate how inferior it is. While MATH maintained its high ratings from start to finish there was a drop-off to the popularity of George and Mildred which finished with an unsuccessful feature film.

Man About the House's comedy switched from the attractive youngsters upstairs to the warring Ropers downstairs and a wonderful balance was kept. When watching a MATH dvd it is remarkable how short the programmes were, most ran for 22-23 minutes including the long introductory titles. This meant that the characters did not have to be fully developed and funny situations created the comedy. When the Ropers became the sole comic characters the situation was less funny. I did not care for the Fourmiles at all.

The major revelation in the book is the relationship between Richard O' Sullivan and Sally Thomsett. It is also of interest the differing memories of the other cast members and the absurdity of using Norman Eshley in three different roles.

A fair effort from a young writer and his subsequent book about On The Buses will be of interest.


The Royal Marriages: What Really Goes on in the Private World of the Queen and Her Family
The Royal Marriages: What Really Goes on in the Private World of the Queen and Her Family
by Colin, Lady Campbell
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The most shocking book you may ever read., 17 Jun 2012
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Published in America, this must be the most controversial book ever written about the Royal Family. For starters, it alleges George V was murdered and that King George V1 talked about the Queen Mother using obscene language. Further claims involve issues of disputed paternity concerning the most senior members of the Windsors.

The 1993 publication takes a surprisingly sympathetic view of Fergie's behaviour along with a humourously devastating description of Prince Andrew's character.

How much of it is true or not is matter of conjecture but one day all the secrets should be revealed and it would worth living to a great age to find out.

Not a book that will be found on the shelves of any library at Buckingham Palace, but an engrossing read for both royalists and republicans alike.


The Arthur Haynes Show - Volume One [DVD]
The Arthur Haynes Show - Volume One [DVD]
Dvd ~ Arthur Haynes
Price: £10.50

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Aileen spoils Arthur's show., 13 Jun 2012
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First of the surviving Arthur Haynes comedy series. The early shows are rather poor with more unfunny than funny sketches. There is more laughter generated in the later episodes with the Arthur Haynes character regularly getting the better of Nicholas Parsons in a succession of comic capers. Apart from Ernie Wise, Nicholas Parsons must the best straight man of all time and is an underrated talent. There is a very funny double sketch of Arthur Haynes as a bolshie postman refusing to accept a letter from Nicholas Parsons, arriving just too late for the collection. One sees in the Arthur Haynes character traits that writer Johnny Speight later developed with the creation of Alf Garnett.

Unfortunately, the series co-star was Aileen Cochrane. Even in 1960 the songs she performed were dated and they now appear to be antedulivian. Her voice was ordinary, her presentation was old-fashioned and she lessened the quality of practically every song she performed. It is not surprising she did not appear in any of the later series.

An interesting watch, but if you are going to buy just one Arthur Haynes DVD, purchase one of the later series.


Wisden Cricketers' Almanack 2012
Wisden Cricketers' Almanack 2012
by Lawrence Booth
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £47.50

4.0 out of 5 stars My annual friend, 11 Jun 2012
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One of the life's annual pleasures is receiving the new edition of Wisden. Given the increase in the amount of cricket the book contains over 1552 pages. Wisden has to represent developments in the game and cricket authorities rather than Wisden are responsible for the result.

There are some changes that should be considered. The records sections should be in their original place rather towards the end of the book, which would be a more appropriate position for the obituaries now featured earlier in the almanac. Also a return to publishing a Test player's career series by series which was done up to 2003. The articles about women's cricket are scattered throught the almanack and it would be better if they were collected in one section.

Wisden is still good friend. With a little tinkering it return to the standard of its peak years.


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