Posts from 29th January 2007

Jan 07

BENNY HILL – “Ernie, The Fastest Milkman In The West”

FT + Popular53 comments • 12,277 views

#307, 11th December 1971


Comedy hits come in many varieties. Some are parodies, many rely on the incongruity of a comedian singing a well-known song, others are simply desperate reels of catchphrases slapped over any track the producers had lying around. “Ernie” is none of these – it’s a bona fide comic song, such as might have been sung in 1871 – minus most of its bluer jokes. It gives Benny Hill – best known as a boob-obsessed physical comedian – an opportunity to show off his comic timing as a singer, and he seizes it with chortling relish.


Quatermass Armageddon – John Mills v Bruce Willis

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Quatermass ConclusionThe final Quatermass (on TV) story ends with, hem hem, someone having to stay behind to set off a nucular bomb. This will divert the menace lurking out there in space threatening to destroy all life, having taken 1000s of lives already. In Armageddon they’ve already destroyed central Paris (hurray!), shown front and centre. In Quatermass they’ve destroyed all the young people gathered in Wembley Stadium (hurray!) and a stonehenge-alike (hurray!), all conveniently alluded to off-screen with the SFX you’d expect from 1979 TV.

[SPOILER ALERT – if you want to see Quatermass Concluded/4/1979 look away. If you want to see Armageddon, consider yourself in receipt of a bag of pity.]

Bruce Willis prises the bomb-setting-off role from his son-in-law, but John Mills is having a heart attack having just unexpectedly found his lost grand-daughter – she gives him a hand reaching for the button…

Despite this final coincidence, the Quatermass story works out better on so many levels, but it gets a fat raspberry for being so relentlessly down on “the kids”.


Non-Thrillers For Kids: The Ring-O-Bells Mystery

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Most of Enid Blyton’s books are either fantasies or thrillers, of a sort: a gang of kids, formalised or not, in a run-in with adult crooks. I don’t know if she came up with the formula herself, but commercially speaking she is its definitive exponent.

I never read Blyton much as a kid, and until I took two months to slog through The Ring O Bells Mystery I had forgotten why. I’d mistakenly attributed it to formulaic plotting and a lack of ideas – in fact I think I probably shunned her books because she’s a genuinely boring writer. Not because her stories lack incident – Ring-O-Bells is jam packed – or character, but because of her remorseless inability to focus on interesting detail at the expense of the useless stuff.


Oooh, me Chalmers are giving me gip

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My further extensive research on celebrity Cockney Rhyming Slang reveals that Judith is not alone: Clement Freud is a slightly more straightforward curse when your piles are playing up.