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"All the way from Great Portland Street"... It's the Kenneth Williams thread!

Mel O'Drama

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He'd been in a reflective mood in the days leading up to his death and I feel quite moved reading his comments on the deaths of friends who had died before him.

On 7th April he'd written:
Read in the paper of the death of Myra de Groot at 51. It is extraordinary! She'd written to me saying she was coming over to do chat shows about her role in 'Neighbours'. Must be something v. sudden to cause death... lucky old Myra! No lingering pain. Watched TV with Lou. Longing to be out of it all.

And on 9th April:
Can't get Yootha Joyce out of my head - and the time she sang 'For All We Know'... there was almost a break in the voice when she got to 'Tomorrow may never come...' but she carried on. She died shortly after. A lady who made so many people happy & a lady who never complained.
 

Barbara Fan

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Gosh, i cant believe it was 29 years ago, and in the 80s, I mean he stood in for Terry Wogan on his chat show etc and had an Audience with Kenneth Williams- i would have guessed 1990s

A sad end to a very talented man who fought his demons and appeared to hate a lot of the films and TV he appeared in.

What did you think of Michael Sheen playing him @Mel O’Drama ??
 

Mel O'Drama

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i cant believe it was 29 years ago, and in the 80s, I mean he stood in for Terry Wogan on his chat show etc and had an Audience with Kenneth Williams- i would have guessed 1990s

KW is one of those where it feels a lot longer for me. It almost feels like he died before I was born. Though I can clearly remember reading some details of his death in the paper sitting in my Dad's car on the Saturday evening.

What did you think of Michael Sheen playing him @Mel O’Drama ?

Do you know, I've never got round to watching Fantabulosa! in full. Maybe I should. He seems to have a good reputation for playing real-life figures. Didn't he play Tony Blair and David Frost too?

It's always a bit strange seeing someone else play him, isn't it? I remember watching Adam Godley in Cor, Blimey! and finding it very unnerving.
 

Mel O'Drama

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ON THIS DAY:

Sunday, 18 April 1976
Up at 7 o'c. with these filthy birds making their screaming racket! Oh for an airgun to shoot them. Lunch with Louie and then returned to flat to try to learn lines... trouble is, I continually want to re-write them.


:D I'm not a morning person either.
 

Mel O'Drama

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Slightly late, but I think @Alexis will enjoy this one:


Sunday 13th May 1984

We watched 'Mastermind' and then 'Dynasty': the latter is really funny with pretentious music swelling all the time & a ludicrous picture of large familes all living in Maples' window.



Here's another observation on Dynasty - fascinating in retrospect:


Saturday 15th June 1985

Saw TV news... then there was Dynasty... Oh dear, it is such unutterable crap. At first it was rubbish but engaging... now it is just degenerating into total banality. Last night we saw an extraordinarily emaciated Rock Hudson playing a few lines: the poor man looks terribly ill.
 

Alexis

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Slightly late, but I think @Alexis will enjoy this one:


Sunday 13th May 1984





Here's another observation on Dynasty - fascinating in retrospect:


Saturday 15th June 1985
Oh that's fascinating to read. I always wondered what people really thought of it at the time. To hear someone who was as bright and sharp as Kenneth say that really adds weight to how crappy it was and that it was recognised as such even at the time. Some people say the crap label has come with hindsight. Obviously not. I have to tag @Snarky's Ghost in this. :)
 
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Snarky Oracle

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Oh that's fascinating to read. I always wondered what people really thought of it at the time. To hear someone was bright and sharp as Kenneth say that really adds weight to how crappy it was and that it was recognised as such even at the time. Some people say the crap label has come with hindsight. Obviously not. I have to tag @Snarky's Ghost in this. :)
Heh. Although, in the States, nary a negative word was heard (except from my bedroom) about DYNASTY and how bad it was until post-Moldavian massacre. By then, people were beginning to acknowledge, cautiously, that the emperor had only new clothes and nothing else.
 
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Alexis

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Heh. Although, in the States, nary a negative word was heard (except from my bedroom) about DYNASTY and how bad it was until post-Moldavian massacre. By then, people were beginning to acknowledge, cautiously, that the emperor had only new clothes and nothing else.
"Now it's just degenerating into total banality"
That is a perfect summary of what was happening.
 

Mel O'Drama

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Kind of lacklustre guests but Kenneth was great.

Yes - he does elevate it into something more watchable than it ought to be.

I love Just A Minute, so the big draw here was to see the dynamic between he and Nicholas Parsons who took so much grief from Kenneth and his fellow contestants over the years.

They say here that the ribbing is all in good fun, which it mostly is. But Kenneth being very mercurial, his opinion on Nicholas seemed to be quite variable in his diaries - as was his opinion about most of the people he came into contact with regularly.

His interview with fellow JAM regular Derek Nimmo (from the same week as the Parsons interview) was next on my YouTube viewing list. I find it fascinating to see them interact in this slightly more casual way outside of JAM's stringent rules. I suppose if you don't know them in that context it's probably not as interesting, but still nice to see these two terribly British gents conversing:


I love how politically incorrect they are.

And if that doesn't date it, there's also Elaine Paige singing a very Eighties number from Chess. :D

I wonder what Janet Brown would do with Theresa May?!
 

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hello @Mel O’Drama

i was looking at BBC iplayer for Parkinson interviews and hoping to find his 1980 interview with a rather ill Ingrid Bergman
I didnt find it but came across this little gem

Bona!! fantabulosa

You have probably seen it but its worth another watch
and john Betjemen seems such a nice guy too

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b007448x/parkinson-the-interviews-series-1-6-kenneth-williams

and also Michael Sheen

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0074s9v/kenneth-williams-fantabulosa
 

Mel O'Drama

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Bona!! fantabulosa

You have probably seen it but its worth another watch
and john Betchamen seems such a nice guy too

nd also Michael Sheen


Oh wow. Two full hours of Kenny material!!!

Me lallies are shaking with excitement, I've got a huge grin on me eke and me riah is standing on end.

I know what I'll be watching over the next few evenings. Thanks BF!! :yep:
 

Mel O'Drama

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This old interview has popped up on YouTube recently. And it's just fascinating...

 

Alexis

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After watching the interview @Mel O'Drama posted above and then a couple of others, last night I was listening to the Julian and Sandy sketches from Round The Horne. I was in stitches at them. Despite the fact they were recorded in the 1960s and at a time when a lot of people probably didn't really get it, or fully understand it. They are very brave, it just must have went over peoples heads and sounded just like a lot of silly nonsense.
It's funny too that with all the time that's past and me belonging to a totally different and freer generation that this reminded me so much of how it is when a group of gay men get together. Polari may be practically dead now, and the reason for it's use is not really necessary but I think that elements of it carry on in different ways. Among certain subgroups language can be twisted and changed and come to mean other things. I know with my close friends this happens. Certainly with gay men, wonderful things are done with manipulation or distortion of language. A lot of what's being said in those sketches is still being done today, in a way. I don't know why but gay men seem to really get a kick out of playing with words and language in that way.
 

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Julian and Sandy are hysterical, I bought the Cassettes for my dad in the 90s and after he had them for a month, would ask if I could borrow them.

I did return them, and have since replaced with CDs

They are real LOL stuff, I love Kenneth Horne's fruity voice on Round the Horne and some of the sketches are funny then and now.

You cant beat a bit of Kenny!
 

Mel O'Drama

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last night I was listening to the Julian and Sandy sketches from Round The Horne. I was in stitches at them. Despite the fact they were recorded in the 1960s and at a time when a lot of people probably didn't really get it, or fully understand it. They are very brave, it just must have went over peoples heads and sounded just like a lot of silly nonsense.

It's funny too that with all the time that's past and me belonging to a totally different and freer generation that this reminded me so much of how it is when a group of gay men get together. Polari may be practically dead now, and the reason for it's use is not really necessary but I think that elements of it carry on in different ways. Among certain subgroups language can be twisted and changed and come to mean other things. I know with my close friends this happens. Certainly with gay men, wonderful things are done with manipulation or distortion of language. A lot of what's being said in those sketches is still being done today, in a way. I don't know why but gay men seem to really get a kick out of playing with words and language in that way.

Oh - Jule and Sand are just hilarious. And you're right about it going over people's heads. There's some really rude stuff in them that the censors would have listened to and passed because they simply had no idea what the words meant in this context. Barry Took and Marty Feldman, as well as Kenneth and Hugh Paddick, must have thought it was hilarious that they could get away with murder because things were just too innocent.

I don't think they could get away with it now, what with Google and all, but back then polari really was very hidden. If you weren't in the club you wouldn't have known anything about it. And I guess RTH uncovering some of the mystery around it - as well as having two characters like this - was a sign of how times were moving forward (the 1967 Sexual Offences Act was passed before the final series of the show).

I only learnt much about polari from discovering RTH in the Nineties, and my knowledge of words and phrases doesn't go much beyond that. But it has an incredible history and I'm sure it would have kept some men out of prison.


Julian and Sandy are hysterical, I bought the CDs for my dad in the 90s and after he had them for a month, would ask if I could borrow them.

I did return them, and have since replaced with CDs

They are real LOL stuff, I love Kenneth Horne's fruity voice on Round the Horne and some of the sketches are funny then and now.

They're wonderful, aren't they? Funnily enough another thread earlier today reminded me of something in Round The Horne, so they're definitely a frame of reference for me.

I started on the Jule & Sand audiobooks, then the tapes of Round The Horne and ended up buying the whole series. Great fun, but I haven't listened to it all in a while. In recent years Just A Minute has become a bit of a go-to for me, and Kenneth had some wonderful moments in that too.

@Alexis, if you haven't listened to RTH in full I can highly recommend it. It's packed with wild and wacky characters and bucketloads of innuendo.
 
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