Yesterday evening I ventured to the Leeds City Varieties theatre in the company of my twenty-something son Jonny. My eldest offspring kindly treating his old man to an evening of surreal comedy courtesy of comedians Bob Mortimer and Andy Dawson, joviality packaged in their parody football show Athletico Mince.
In the 1970’s, last night’s theatre received regular exposure as venue of niche BBC TV show The Good Old Days (TGOD). Compered by splendidly moustachioed Leonard Sachs with his trademark fine line in wordy delivery, viewers were treated to variety entertainment fare, paying homage to old music hall shows from the late 19th/early 20th century.
While watching this whimsical inanity, it struck me how disparate my evening’s entertainment was from what was delivered on that very same stage around forty years previous. In particular the styles of humour bequeathed by Mortimer and Dawson compared to TGOD, which finished in 1983 (after a three decade run),
Athletico Mince’s part scripted/part ad-libbed hilarity, an unconventional offshoot from the format delivered there by late great comedians like Les Dawson and Bob Monkhouse back in TGOD’s day. As much as I enjoyed Les Dawson and Monkhouse’s acts, they never made me laugh as uproariously as Mortimer and Andy Dawson did yesterday evening.
To clarify, although both funny, fat, northern, great at gurning and rubbish on the piano, I don’t believe Les Dawson and Andy Dawson are related in anyway. That’s according to my mate Greg Twinset, anyway, who’s a researcher on the BBC’s genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are?
Greg, a tenacious investigator who tracks relatives with his bloodhound Reg, is the man who famously went back far enough to find someone who can remember Newcastle’s last domestic trophy win.
Via his consumption riddled mother Alice, Twinset curried favour with Andy Dawson’s barber. A known gossip in Cleadon village, near Sunderland, the barber apparently discloses all sorts about Andy Dawson’s private life to prurient patrons of his High Street boudoir.
These vitriolic outbursts include a host of shameful incidents the Sunderland fan has tried hard to forget. These rumours including that Andy Dawson has never seen a lion’s penis; not to mention the embarrassment of having a name of less value at Scrabble than his best mate Zbigniew Xylophone.
Another of the barbers claims is that Andy, while lolling in the chair having his hair marinated in TV mogul Greg Dykes sputum, never stops rabbiting about having no genealogical link to Les Dawson
The crimper also spitefully divulges that cutting Andy Dawson’s hair is a chuffing nightmare as he never sits still when having a number 2……. I’m hoping that’s a hair clipper setting and not a reference to the Sunderland fan s**tting himself in the barber’s chair!!
As well as Andy having no blood line to Les Dawson, Twinset also proffers Bob Mortimer is no relation to 1970’s Coventry midfielder Dennis Mortimer, or West Ham’s Clyde Best.
I don’t recollect watching a great deal of The Good Old Days when I was a nipper. The old school music hall show, with it’s elaborately worded introductions by compere Leonard Cohen to an audience dressed in early 1900’s attire, wasn’t ‘go to’ entertainment for youngsters in the 1970’s.
However, my brother Ian and my lack of enthusiasm for the show backfired badly, when our mater cottoned on to the dislike. A fact alerting her to the shows behaviour control benefits of my younger sibling and me. As a consequence frequently threatening to make us watch TGOD if we didn’t behave. A ploy that became one of the most effective admonishment weapons in her armoury.
Thankfully, when she overheard me (as a 10 year old) call my our Ian a t**t in 1973, the show was having a break in the Beeb’s schedules. Instead I got the infinitely more preferable punishment of a smacked arse and sent to my room.
Yours truly not as lucky, though, when I told a kid in our street, called Curly, to f**k off after he asked to join Ian and me in a game of football. As punishment for that indiscretion GJ Strachan was made to watch two episodes of The Good Old Days…… One for swearing, the other for being spiteful.
I’m unsure why I told Curly to go away in such industrial language. I don’t recall being that spiteful as a youngster. I may just’ve bore a childhood aversion to playing the beautiful game with anyone whose barnet bore ringlets. Which, on reflection, I suppose wasn’t without justification.
I’m not sure what TGOD’s presenter Leonard Sachs would’ve made of Athletico Mince’s type of humour. I’d have loved to hear how he’d have presented this surreal but very funny act to his audience; patrons sitting in anticipation, clad in their early 20th century garb.
I’d love to think, though, in one of his deliberately over pretentious lexicological announcements, the oration would follow something like this:-
“A bombastic synergy of Tees/Wear joviality. Gentlemen bequeathing exuberant manifestations of idiosyncratic epiphanies. Sources of tomfoolery borne of boreal climes and proletarian environs. Unconventional masquerades performed with spontaneity, prance and canticle.”
Alternatively, he may have just proffered:-
“Here’s a f***ing barking Smoggy and Mackem. I don’t get them, but my son reckons they’re the dogs bollocks!”
Anyway, regardless of how Mortimer and Dawson would have been introduced by the late Leonard Sachs, they produced a hilarious hour or so at the venue with a special place in TV history.
Right, I’m off to have a game of five-a-side with some straight haired blokes.
2 kids who've flown the nest, 1 wife whose flown with Jet2. Born at a young age in 1960's Leeds, the author became interested in the literary life when his wife bought him a dog. Having an allergy to dogs, he swapped it for a typewriter. Being unable to train the typewriter to retrieve tennis balls, he reluctantly turned to writing...... Website - www.writesaidfred.org