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Little and Large brought laughter to the nation; Little And Large (BBC 1, 1978 - 1991).

Byline: Peter Grant

TV's Little and Large followed on the comedy coat-tails of Morecambe andWise.

Like other showbiz pairings, Mike and Bernie Winters and Cannon and Ball, fewduos would ever each the same dizzy heights of much-loved Eric and Ern.

Yet Syd Little and Eddie Large were at the top of their tree for 13 years.

They were accomplished TV and stage performers and popular panto stars (they did 39 together) and enjoyed sell-out runs at the Liverpool Empire and Royal Court.

Syd Little (born CyrilMead in 1942) and comic Eddie Large (Born Edward McGinnis in 1941) formed their partnership in 1962 appearing as singers in local pubs around the north west.

Syd was born in Blackpool and the family moved to Manchester where he met Eddie who was born in Glasgow but raised in Manchester.

They had chemistry and formed an act, Cyril Mead and Friend, which became Mead and McGinnis.

Little and Large appeared in clubs such as the Isle of Man's Marina and Liverpool's Allinson's and WookeyHollow.

They also enjoyed stints at Bernard Manning's world famous Embassy Cluband got TV work on Crackerjack.

In the mid-70s, Syd and Eddie were talent spotted in Liverpool at the WookeyHollow and auditioned for Opportunity Knocks, scoring 77 on the clapometer.

ITV gave the pair their debut series in 1977 but they moved to the BBC a year later.

Their 1980 series was one of the top 20 shows watched that year.

It was a simple package: two very ordinary pals and performerswith likeable personalities prepared to look daft in front of millions.

Syd was the straight man to Eddie's larger-than-life persona.

Syd maintained, as he does to this day, that he wasn't a comedian but an entertainer while Eddie was the comic.

The bespectacled, much put-upon Syd was indeed a talented musician having owned his first guitar at 14.

Eddie was always the joker.

Their shows were a mixture of sketches and lampoons - many featuring celebrities.

It was frothy but good old-fashioned Saturday night entertainment and it was a hit with all ages.

One of the regular features in their show saw Syd trying to be taken seriously as a singer-song writer while a daft Eddie, usually in silly costumes such as a Mexican bandit or Deputy Dawg, would ruin every chance for 'Supersonic' Syd to display his vocal and playing skills.

Syd didn't mind losing his dignity in the name of variety.

He memorably dressed up as a chicken for one routine, while Eddie was happy to frequently cross-dress in the best possible taste. His Tina Turner in a basque, bandy legs in stockings and stilettos springs to mind.

Always self-effacing, they played on their tubby and skinny imagemuch the same way as Laurel and Hardy had.

There were some genuinely clever film and TV parodies in their shows such as Grease.

Like Morecambe and Wise, their Christmas specials were big budget affairs.

Ernie had the plays what he wrote and Eric did his best to bring them down to his level, while Syd was constantly badgered by a restless Eddie.

The two were at the peak of their popularity in the 1980s.

However, as mainstream comedy moved away from pantomimish themes and into more controversial areas, their popularity dwindled until their show was axed in 1991.

Alternative comedy had taken over.

The double-act format continued however, with more biting humour in comparison to Little and Large's gentle, middle-of-the-road style.

Hale and Pace, Fry and Laurie and French and Saunders were amongst the many to carry on the tradition.

Little and Large switched successfully to theatres and pantomimes. Their Babes In The Wood, written by Ian Billings, is regarded as one of the best of its kind.

Now both pensioners, Syd lives in Fleet wood and Eddie in Bristol.

The pair no longer perform together but keep in touch with amutual love of Manchester City FC.

Syd performs on cruise ships such as theQE2 and has recently appeared in Southport in panto as an incompetent genie in Aladdin.

Eddie does after dinner-speaking and low key dramas.

Syd and Eddie created their own niche and even catchphrases - like 'Supersonic' and 'Brill', Eddie's abbreviation of brilliant.

Robbie Williams was a big fan and has stated that Little and Large were always on the telly in his house just as they were for millions of others.


DAWG GONE: Eddie Large in his Deputy Dawg guise and Syd Little, just clowning around
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 1, 2008
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