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Barry Cryer remembers his friend Bob Monkhouse

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David Thair | 09:30 UK time, Monday, 26 July 2010

Bob Monkhouse in The Big NoiseBarry Cryer writes...

Bob was one of a kind and he was very much aware of this. He once said to me, "they don't like me, you know". I said "who don't like you, Bob?" and he said "the gang, the club - Eric and Ernie, Tommy Cooper - they don't like me". Jimmy Tarbuck averred that is was because they were all working class and Bob was posh.

Bob's Full HouseAnd he was - immaculately suited, crisp, albeit slightly mid-Atlantic diction, and a barrage of witty one liners. He once said to me that there was a whole audience out there who "don't even know I'm a comedian, I'm the game show host". Which he was, of course. Host of more game-shows than all the other hosts put together.

He had a long career as a script writer for others as well as being a performer himself.

His range was wide - he appeared in musicals and later in life he appeared as a straight actor in television. His self-awareness that I referred to, extended to his appreciation of impressions of him. His impression of himself was hilarious and I commend it to Rory Bremner.

He was sometimes accused of plagiarism, due to the wealth of material he churned out, and he once told me that he and his erstwhile writing partner, Dennis Goodwin, suffered from 'short wave ear', due to pressing radio sets close to their heads to listen to shows on the American Forces Network and making notes. Some may call that homage - some may have a different definition.

What is indisputable is the keen wit and speed of thought. He showed this in both conversation and his consummate skill as a speaker. Before doing an after dinner, he would chat to someone for half an hour, gleaning names and topics at the event and then, on his feet, address people by name and litter the speech with the topics he had been told about.

How to sum him up? Completely self aware of his strengths and weaknesses, a consummate professional, who never burdened others with his personal problems, and above all - a one off. The timing, the mannerisms, the encyclopaedic command of a subject - you could never say someone was sort of Bob Monkhouse. There was only one!

Barry Cryer presents All Round Bob Monkhouse as part of BBC Radio 2's Comedy Season at 10pm on Tuesday, 27th July. He was also a special guest on yesterday's Weekend Wogan, which you can watch online.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    "When I told my school masters I wanted to be a comedian they all laughed,well they're not laughing now"

  • Comment number 2.

    Bob was a legend, and unlike "the gang" his material was timeless and is still funny to this day without the need to be viewed in context or while wearing nostalgia goggles. Among Bob's best work in his later years was his voice acting for The Mr Hell Show, which reminded a lot of people of my generation that as well as being a very witty gameshow host he was also a brillient comedian and caused armys of us students to search high and low for videos of his stand up.

 

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