The Dick Emery Show
What have Mel Brooks, Mel Tolkin, Selma Diamond, Lucille Kallen, David Nobbs, Peter Tinniswood, Barry Cryer, John Esmonde, Bob Larbey, Marty Feldman, Dick Clement and Harold Pinter got in common?
Not only are they all legends in the world of comic writing, they all contributed to The Dick Emery Show. Small wonder then that it became a mainstay of the BBC schedules, running from 1963 to 1981 over 18 series and 166 episodes.
While relying in its early years on material "inspired" by Brooks and others' sketches for America's legendary "Sid Caesar's Show of Shows", The Dick Emery Show soon focused on the characters created by its star.
Emery filled each programme with a vivid cast of comic grotesques, from menopausal would-be-maneater Hattie and uncouth skinhead Bovver Boy to very friendly blonde bombshell Mandy, ageing WWI veteran Lampwick, a vicar with too many teeth for his own mouth and a man who did impressions of trains ("diddley-dee, diddley-dah, diddley-dee, diddley-dah, diddley-diddely-diddely-diddley-diddley-dee, diddley-dah – it just went over some points").
A particular feature was fake vox pops with Emery's characters (an idea later copied by Fry and Laurie), usually ending with Mandy somehow finding a double entendre in the reporter's innocent question and giving him a friendly but over-forceful push while delivering the line that was to become Emery's catchphrase "Ooh, you are awful, but I like you".
While massively popular through the sixties and seventies, Emery's work was out of kilter with the 1980s, open as it was to accusations of sexism, homophobia and even racism, although in fairness it has to be said that none of Emery's sketches would seem out of place on Little Britain.
Looking back on the show, one can only paraphrase Mandy herself "Ooh it was awful, but we liked it".
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