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OK, hands up, who's been Basil's sidekick?

As Simon Wiesenthal will tell you, those who abuse their power to inflict suffering on others cannot expect a peaceful old age.

The public does not forget, nor forgive.

That is why I am today naming a small group of men who share the same wicked secret: they were all Basil Brush's straight men.

Safe in the knowledge that only their christian names were ever used on air, they have blithely continued their careers, little suspecting that the spotlight of truth would one day be turned on them.

But Scoop Lewis-Smith has tracked them down, and now reveals the guilty men.

MISTER Rodney: aka Rodney Bewes, former Likely Lad and nowadays extremely busy as the butt of jokes in Viz magazine.

MISTER Derek: alias Derek Fowlds, and subsequently Bernard in Yes Minister. He's the only cast member not decorated by the Queen, so presumably she hasn't forgotten either.

MISTER Billy: Billy Boyle, whose post-vulpecular career has gone from strength to strength, most recently with a peak-time series at midnight on Radio 2, which was axed years ago.

As for Mister Roy (Roy North) and Mister Howard (Howard Williams), I have never heard of either of them again, and frankly I can't be bothered to walk 10 feet across the room and check them out in my TV reference books.

Sorry, but it's not worth the effort for a bunch of former stooges to a furry pyjama case who are probably booked to appear in panto opposite Aimi MacDonald in Eastbourne, shouting "20 miles from London and still no sign of Dick".

But what of Basil? His manipulator Ivan Owen reputedly made millions from his world-famous fox (known in Germany as Balduin Schwupp), but disappeared from view after turning down a new BBC contract in 1980.

However, I would like to scotch the vile rumour that Mr Owen is reduced to holding up his bare hand at parties and asking "What's this? Basil Brush in the nude ... Boom! Boom!"

STUCK on the motorway this week - withcaraftercarmovinglikethis - I began to wonder about the thousands of small furry things that are killed in collisions every day. By rights, there should be huge mounds of carcases on the hard shoulder, but there aren't. So where are they all?

I suspect that, unbeknown to the public, unmarked vans are sent out each night to clean up the carnage but, if so, what do they do with all that meat? No one knows, but I'd like to make it clear that the increasing number of burger bars alongside British motorways is mere coincidence.

Such establishments would never dream of serving customers with rotten, putrid, rancid, condemned meat, so that's fillet of fox with fries, a triple-thick rabbit blood shake, two vole-au-vents, and a bucket of starling wings to go for me please....

OH, DOCTOR BARKING!

Sit-coms lose the plot

SOME years ago, a friend of mine spent a few months in a mental hospital (many of the best people do, I find).

He'd been under a lot of strain, and was eventually stopped by the police as he walked along the street with a lampshade on his head, claiming "I am a supermarket trolley making my way towards Dublin."

He's better now, but he still remembers something odd about the communal TV set in his ward - it was permanently tuned to ITV, with tape stuck over the other tuner buttons.

When he asked why, a nurse told him that BBC1, BBC2, and C4 were considered too thought-provoking (and therefore too upsetting) for patients. But cosy ITV sit-coms were bland and mindless, and therefore suitable for recuperating supermarket trolleys.

Judging from the bland mindlessness of Oh, Doctor Beeching! which has been disgracing our screens in recent weeks, it's now safe for nurses to take the tape off the BBC1 button too.

It's billed as a situation comedy, but situation tragedy would be a better name for this disaster from David Croft, the man who once gave us the glorious Dad's Army. What a pity the BBC didn't hire their own Dr Beeching to make ruthless cuts to the lines, because the script fairly groans with limp quips.

"The audience loves my stuff, but the people in charge don't" Croft said recently, but he's sadly deluded. I checked the ratings this week and his show didn't even make the Top 70.

The sit-com is alive and well in America, because half the programme budget is spent on vast teams of writers who keep the gags flowing. But here, TV companies pay their writers peanuts, which is why most BBC and ITV sit-coms make monkeys of viewers.

The best "situational" comedy nowadays is found in soaps like Coronation Street (which don't try to be amusing). The traditional British sit-com looks like an outdated genre whose condition is terminal.

No flowers please, just donations to your favourite charity.

Pavement artists ..

This is the time of year when Edinburgh becomes temporarily English, as every aspiring entertainer in London migrates north to the Festival.

Princes Street will be full of poncy mime artistes pretending to be trapped in glass lifts (I like to put them off by uttering the phrase "trouble at home then?"), and the bar in the Assembly Rooms will be full of egomaniacs from Oxbridge colleges with severe cases of mistaken nonentity, talking loudly to nobody about the "one-man shows" they're giving in obscure church halls.

And we all know what that means. One man shows up to watch it. Frankly, there's more culture growing up the inside of my fridge.

Some of my best friends are Scottish but one unfortunate Caledonian trait, which English visitors to Edinburgh maintain, is a love of the falling down water.

Trouble is, the English can't keep their drink in, which is why every night there are action paintings deposited all over the city's pavements.

CONTEST OF THE WEAK

Thoughts of vomiting have inspired this week's competition - looking for the best alternative to the overworked expression "throwing up".

I'll start the gorge rising with: copiously cough up the cakehole, decorate the pavement, laugh at the carpet, liquidate your assets, reverse lunch, Technicolor yawn, liquid laugh, personal protein spill, serenade the drain, and make pavement stew.

Any better? If so, send them here or to my web site (http://www.lewis- smith.com).

First prize? A bottle of Alka-Seltzer tablets.
COPYRIGHT 1997 MGN LTD
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Lewis-Smith, Victor
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 23, 1997
Words:1056
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