Saturday 18 May 2013

I woke up to the news yesterday that Paul Shane had passed away. It seems quite odd to look back at the early-to-mid 80s/eighties and realise that someone like Shane would have been one of the people I classed as a comedy hero. Not that there is anything wrong with Paul Shane. It’s just that, well, the eighties/80s were quite shit.

I’ve purposely avoided seeing shows like Hi-De Hi! again as an adult. I don’t want to get all snobby about it or anything, I just think that in retrospect it was a show facing the wrong way and I was more suited to shows not set in the 1950s holiday camp industry. A quick aside to Wikipedia suggests the eight year run of the show only covered 1959 & 1960. Shame, I’d have loved to see how Peggy celebrated the England world cup win. But they were facing the wrong way – at a time when society was changing, in terms of equality for the better, shows were looking back to the past when everyone was white and the pretty girls giggled and got the best men and the non-pretty ones were the cleaner. To be fair, it is hardly surprising people were nostalgic when the reality was Thatcher.

[It is useful to parenthetically accept that I hardly cast off the ‘You have been watching’ school of comedy when I was that young. Hi-de-Hi! did finish when I was ten, though, so I was hardly an adult. But I watched Goodnight Sweetheart for at least the first three years and that didn’t start until 1993 so….Goodnight Sweetheart was surprisingly high concept really – but still fit into the Hi-de-Hi! silly family comedy show. Maybe not actually, it was basically high concept bigamy.]

Not quite sure why that last paragraph was in brackets. Ah well. No way of undoing that now.  My fondness for Paul Shane is pretty much limited to my first decade. Don’t let this fool you that I didn’t watch the 1920s comedy romp that was You Rang, M’Lord? from the same writing team. Suggesting Jimmy Perry and David Croft, said team, not only had a penchant for nostalgia but a fetish for programme titles featuring punctuation marks. Episodes of You Rang, M’Lord? were 50 minutes long. I would not have guessed that, I would…not….have…guessed….that.

The proclivity for punctuation lived on in Perry & Croft’s titles. However I never saw Oh, Doctor Beeching! If memory serves there was a special on a bank holiday weekend. Wikipedia tells me that there were 20 episodes…20! Well I never. Oh, Doctor Beeching! kicked off in 1995 meaning that by the time I was 17 I was definitely ‘better’ than the farce/seaside postcard brand of comedy.

That doesn’t mean Ted Bovis’ tremendous suit (see below) doesn’t hold a special place in my comedy heart. My mum met Paul Shane once, they were in the same seaside resort and struggling with wheelchair access (his wife/my mum’s niece) and my mum said he was very nice. So, he is alright by me.

RIP Paul Shane.

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