Ref NoBSUCA/JP/1/2/10
CollectionJohn Pidgeon Collection
TitleMark Thomas interviewed for 'Talking Comedy'
Name of creatorPidgeon, John, 1947-2016
Date04/03/1997
Duration1 hr. 33 min. 7 sec.
Extent1 sound cassette (DAT 95)
1 audio file Broadcast WAVE Format
DescriptionMark Thomas interviewed by John Pidgeon at The Sound Company, London, for 'Talking Comedy', a BBC Radio 2 programme in which comedians talk about the people that make them laugh. This is the unedited interview, not the programme as broadcast.

Summary: [00:09] Recording begins [00:26] Mark Thomas [MT] says his first memory of scripted comedy on the radio was The Clitheroe Kid. [01:14] He got into The Goon Show when he was at school, [02:14] Tony Hancock was also something he enjoyed. [03:00] MT was shocked when he saw Michael Bentine’s drawings of the Goons characters, [03:33] similar to when he bought an Asterix video tape for his son and heard the voices.
[04:24] MT says Galton and Simpson were some of the best comedy writers ever to work in radio and TV, particularly Steptoe & Son. [05:55] A comedian friend of MT called Bob Boyton said that Steptoe & Son had a passion that something on at the same time like Terry & June didn’t [06:43] MT describes it as almost being like a Samuel Beckett play.
[07:35] John Pidgeon [JP] talks about the relationship between Hancock and Sid James [08:41] MT says that many of Hancock’s biographers noted that Hancock worked best with the team around him. [09:02] MT talks about the link between Steptoe & Son and Hancock, central characters aspiring to be better.
[09:37] JP asks MT about Not Only But Also, [09:49] MT mentions his Dad talking about the excitement felt when the first episode of That Was The Week That Was aired. [10:21] Steve Martin said he felt a similar feeling when he first saw Saturday Night Live with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd.
[11:09] MT talks about the differences between Peter Cook & Dudley Moore, [12:30] MT remembers seeing Clive James interviewing Peter Cook various times, [13:48] MT talks about Peter Cook’s involvement with Private Eye, [14:07] MT tells a story about Peter Cook and Ian Hislop teasing Daily Mirror owner Robert Maxwell during a court case where Private Eye was being sued.
[14:56] John Pidgon brings up Tommy Trinder. [15:13] MT talks about his personal chronological taks on comedy including The Goons, Hancock, Peter Cook & Dudley Moore, Steptoe & Son, as well as Dave Allen. [15:29] MT’s Dad took him to see Tommy Trinder at Battersea Town Hall when he was sixteen years old. [15:46] MT says that there are stories from the Hackney Empire about the rivalry between Tommy Trinder and Max Miller.
[16:02] Bob Monkhouse talks about meeting Max Miller in his autobiography. [16:56] MT talks about why seeing Tommy Trinder live was so interesting for him as a sixteen year old.
[19:43] JP brings up Les Dawson, [21:00] MT started watching Blankety Blank when Les Dawson became the host. [22:24] MT says that Les Dawson was so much more creative than all the other club comics. [22:40] Jimmy Tarbuck doesn’t compare to Les Dawson, [23:01] Barry Cryer told MT a story about Dawson and Tarbuck having a fight.
[23:53] MT talks about a radio programme all about the North and comics from the North, and mentions Mark Hurst being on and Les Dawson.
[24:35] JP talks about getting Les Dawson and Peter Bogdanovich on a radio chat show, Sarah Wall asked Peter about his former career as a film critic, and mentions Les Dawson’s characteristic wit in response to this.
[26:07] JP talks about Jasper Carrott, and the fact that nowadays people don’t think of him as being that funny, [26:28] MT says that Jasper Carrott was the first comic he saw on TV doing his whole set, Katie Boyle introduced him. [27:34] MT talks about a benefit gig Jasper Carrott did with Lenny Henry and Rory Bremner.
[29:00] MT talks about the playful quality of club comics like Harding, Jasper Carrott, and Billy Connolly. [29:42] MT saw Billy Connolly at a benefit gig during the miner’s strike, and mentions the way he acknowledged Arthur Scargill sitting in the audience.
[32:35] JP asks when MT was introduced to American comedy. [32:58] MT talks about first seeing Annie Hall, after seeing it, MT said he wanted to see the world the way Woody Allen sees it. [34:36] MT says that he has to go and see a new Woody Allen film when it comes out, the only filmmaker who has that effect on him is Mike Leigh. [35:18] MT talks about a scene in the film Manhattan Murder Mystery.
[36:17] MT talks about the film Stardust Memories. [37:19] MT talks about his introduction to Woody Allen’s stand-up comedy after seeing the films.
[38:25] MT talks about the story that Woody Allen wanted to give up stand-up comedy, and when he stopped caring he got really good at it, [38:46] MT mentions a similar story about Jack Dee going on stage in a belligerent mood, creating his onstage persona in the process.
[40:38] JP asks about Lenny Bruce, Bill Hicks, Elvis Presley, Jack Benny
[45:55] MT talks about a sample of Lenny Bruce used on a Julian Cope track.
[49:43] JP mentions Bill Hicks. [55:03] MT talks about a routine Bill Hicks did about Jay Leno, a piece of inspired vitriol with no punchline, Willie Nelson
[56:52] JP tells MT to talk about Victoria Wood and Alexei Sayle, MT mentions Dave Allen, and JP says that Dave Allen won’t allow any of his clips to be used. JP mentions that Alan Davies is a big fan of Dave Allen, and even he won’t pass over clips of Dave Allen.
[57:50] MT talks about Dave Allen, and how a Dave Allen sketch introduced him to what South African apartheid was.
[01:02:00] MT says that of all the performers, Alexei Sayle was the one that got him interested in comedy.
[01:04:08] MT talks about a John Cleese quote about Peter Cook which relates to how someone like Alexei Sayle inspired MT to do his own thing on stage.
[01:05:03] JP asks MT if there’s anyone else he wishes to mention. [01:05:20] MT mentions Mark Steel, Jeremy Hardy, Claire Dowie, Jo Brand, Tony Allen, and Owen O’Neill. [01:06:28] MT says that for many people including himself, Bob Boyton was the big influence for them, because he never became a household name or appeared on TV.
[01:11:36] JP and MT listen to the clips. [01:12:14] The Goon Show [01:13:48] - [01:14:29] Tony Hancock [01:15:11] - [01:15:49] Tommy Trinder [01:16:50] - [01:17:40] Peter Cook and Dudley Moore [01:18:36] - [01:19:18] Les Dawson [01:19:42] - [01:20:16] Jasper Carrott [01:20:45] - [01:21:33] Woody Allen [01:22:30] - [01:23:18] Bill Hicks [01:23:55] - [01:25:00] Billy Connolly [01:25:35] - [01:26:10] Alexei Sayle [01:27:09] JP gets MT to record the trailers
[01:32:42] Recording ends
NotesLPCM wave 16 bit 44.1kHz. Digital Audio Tape (DAT) captured using a PC running Windows; SPDIF connection via RME PCI card. Digitisation engineer Adrian Finn, Greatbear analogue & digital media ltd.
CategoryAudio recordings
Access conditionsThis recording is available for consultation at the University of Kent's Special Collections & Archives reading room, Templeman Library, University of Kent, Canterbury, CT2 7NU for study/research purposes only. Access to audio-visual recordings is through digital listening copies. The University of Kent acknowledges the intellectual property rights of those named as contributors in this recording and the rights of those not identified.
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