In The Sixties Season - BBC FOUR, Friday 11 June, 9.00pm
BBC FOUR presents a profile of Vivian Stanshall - "The late,
majestic Vivian Stanshall, one of the most talented, profligate, bizarre,
infuriating, unfathomable and magnificent Englishmen ever to have drawn
breath" - Stephen Fry.
A veteran of the common law marriage between Sixties art school and
rock 'n' roll, Stanshall was co-founder, lead singer and co-writer of
cult Sixties sensation The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, the missing link
between satire and psychedelia, pop and performance art, pastiche and
Stanshall was a dapper Zappa, perfecting what he called "ballet
for the vulgar".
Like Peter Cook, he burnt himself out tragically early, virtually
drinking himself to death before dying in a fire at his house in 1995.
He was, as the title of his last ever broadcast put it, a Renaissance
man: writer, composer, performer and painter.
This film tells Viv's life story from mum and dad to Dada and Mummery.
It follows his progress from an 'odd boy' Southend seaside childhood,
through art school, his intro to and outro from the Bonzo Dog Band and
subsequent spectacular resurfacings as solo artist with his Peel Show
monologue about Sir Henry at Rawlinson End (later a book and a film
starring Trevor Howard), his comic opera Stinkfoot performed on board
the Bristol Showboat and at London's Bloomsbury Theatre and his final
appearances with Rawlinson DogEnds.
Tracing Viv's musical journey from its Bonzo beginnings to Rawlinson
End and beyond, this expedition into the archival canyons of his mind
is peppered with contributions from colleagues, close friends and comic
But at its centre is a portrait of the man who made his life and art
into what he called "a sur-Ealing comedy", drawing on a wealth
of largely BBC audio and video.
It combines interviews with his collaborators from the Bonzos and
beyond, including band members Neil Innes, Legs Larry Smith, Rodney
Slater and manager Gerry Bron, plus later associates like John Peel,
Jack Bruce and lifetime fan and Stinkfoot financier Stephen Fry.
Summer in the Sixties - BBC FOUR goes on a mind-expanding trip back
to the swinging Sixties this June for its biggest season ever covering
art, music, style, drama, TV, politics, sport and film.