Ref NoBSUCA/JP/1/2/6
CollectionJohn Pidgeon Collection
TitlePaul O'Grady interviewed for 'Talking Comedy'
Name of creatorPidgeon, John, 1947-2016
Date23/08/1996
Duration1 hr. 29 min. 29 sec.
Extent1 sound cassette (DAT 125)
1 audio file Broadcast WAVE Format
DescriptionPaul O'Grady interviewed by John Pidgeon 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: [00:02] Recording starts, Paul O’Grady [PO] is in the middle of an anecdote. [00:33] John Pidgeon [JP] asks PO to start by talking about the first people he remembers making him laugh.
[00:47] PO talks about his mother’s reaction to Dave Allen. [01:51] PO talks a bit about comedy. [02:38] Morecambe and Wise, Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, PO talks about how he loved them as a kid, [03:03] he talks about the appearances of Glenda Jackson and Angela Rippon on the show and how you could see that on The Big Breakfast.
[03:17] JP asks PO if there was anyone who made him want to do comedy, to which PO answers no. He says he was funny at school to ease the tension, and got a lot of his humour from his family. [04:38] PO says he wanted to be an actor more than a comedian.
[04:56] JP asks PO to talk about some of the comedians on his list. [05:13] PO talks about The Rag Trade with Miriam Karlin, Sheila Hancock and Esma Cannon, who was in films like Sailor Beware with Peggy Mount. PO talks about character actresses.
[05:49] PO liked The Goons and The Ying Tong Song, “even though Prince Charles liked them”. [06:18] Steptoe & Son, Harry Corbett and Wilfred Brambell
[07:03] Mrs Shufflewick, PO talks about going to a drag pub called The Black Cap, he talks about Mark Fleming as Auntie Flo and seeing Rex Jameson as Mrs Shufflewick. [09:29] PO says Mrs Shufflewick influenced Lily Savage.
[10:36] JP brings up Hylda Baker. PO talks about working with her. [11:20] PO remembers her from Nearest and Dearest with Jimmy Jewel. [11:36] PO talks about seeing her on TV with Matthew Kelly as Cynthia.
[11:42] PO says that Hylda Baker was a monster backstage, but also very funny. [12:50] PO talks about how perfectionist female performers often get the reputation of being difficult to work with and brings up Barbara Streisand and Jean Fergusson from Last of the Summer Wine doing a one-woman show about Hylda Baker. [14:04] PO talks about how he didn’t like her sitcom Not on Your Nelly.
[15:43] PO brings up Patricia Routledge, [16:17] he talks about how well she performs other people’s material, such as Alan Bennett in his adaptation of A Woman of No Importance. [16:56] PO says he thought she was over the top in Keeping Up Appearances, and didn’t like those kinds of sitcoms.
[17:52] He loved The Kitty Monologues written by Victorian Wood. [18:17] PO says he’s listened to A Woman of No Importance and A Lady of Letters about 300 times, as well as Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries.
[18:55] Dora Bryan in A Taste of Honey. [20:34] PO says Diana Dors played the same character and gave it a totally different slant.
[21:02] Frankie Howerd, PO praises how he managed to make rehearsed routines looked spontaneous.
[24:06] JP asks about Phyllis Diller. [24:21] PO talks about making notes [24:48] at the Edinburgh Festival he talks about how reassuring it was to see Hattie Hayridge also making notes. He was shocked and relieved that Frankie Howerd make notes.
[25:38] PO talks about his distaste for the phrase “comic genius”, often used to refer to Perrier award winners at the Edinburgh Festival who have only been around for two years, [26:25] or posthumously as with Benny Hill, who was lambasted when he was alive.
[26:34] PO talks about how much he hates American stand-ups, and talks about how he would go to watch the competition like Eddie Izzard with Julian Clary, [27:04] PO tells an anecdote about how someone sold him some material which he didn’t realise was written by another comic. [27:50] PO says him and Julian Clary walked out of the American stand-up act.
[29:33] PO says one of the two American comics he likes is Emo Philips, because he’s bizarre, but says he finds it strange that he keeps up the onstage persona offstage.
[30:15] PO talks about Gayle Tuesday and Late License on Channel 4 and how Brenda Gilhooly would drop the character when they weren’t on-stage and says the same about Bob Downe.
[31:05] PO says the other American comic he loves is Joan Rivers, and how she almost makes him jealous. [32:00] PO says that there probably aren’t many female comics in the UK because they feel like they shouldn’t be talking about the things Joan Rivers talks about, but says how he likes Jo Brand for saying it as it is and not caring.
[32:31] Robin Williams, PO says he’s more of an actor than a stand-up now, but calls him a comic genius. [33:06] PO says that he’s the only person who liked the Popeye movie. [33:40] He talks about Robin Williams as the restrained character in The Birdcage.
[34:06] JP brings up Phyllis Diller. [34:24] PO talks about American sitcoms he liked, like The Pruitts of Southampton with Phyllis Diller, Green Acres with Zsa Zsa Gabor, Bewitched with Agnes Moorhead, and I Love Lucy with Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance.
[35:50] PO talks about film star biographies and tells one about Lucille Ball’s daughter going out with the female impersonator Jim Bailey. [36:51] PO talks about how we have weak sitcoms today, and talks about remakes of sitcoms like The Golden Girls being remade as The Brighton Belles. [37:31] PO talks about how he dislikes political correctness and “anti-smoking fascists”.
[38:00] JP brings up Phyllis Diller again. [38:33] PO talks about Phyllis Diller Born to Sing.
[41:47] JP brings up some of the other people on PO’s list, and he brings up Victor Lewis Smith. [41:54] PO brings up Spike Jones and Round the Horne. [42:10] PO talks about Spike Jones and The City Slickers, and the show in Black Bottom is one of his favourite pieces of music.
[43:27] Victor Lewis Smith, PO praises his radio show where he makes prank calls, and his TV reviews in The Evening Standard. [45:05] PO says Julian Clary is very confident at prank calling people.
[46:15] Round the Horne, Julian & Sandy, PO describes it as really subversive for Sunday lunchtime. [47:22] PO talks about The Kenneth Williams Diaries.
[48:04] JP brings up Les Dawson and French & Saunders being picked last week, because Julian Clary did the show last week. [48:51] PO says he loved French & Saunders when they first started, and talks about Dawn French. [49:17] PO says he finds Dawn French funny “in a cosy way”, and says Jennifer Saunders is the abrasive one.
[50:20] PO says he “could take or leave” Absolutely Fabulous. [51:41] PO talks about Joanna Lumley going on The Ruby Wax Show. [52:18] PO says that Victoria Wood’s material is no longer believable.
[53:24] Les Patterson [54:04] PO says he doesn’t like seeing Les and Edna [Everage] on the same bill of a Barry Humphries show.
[54:28] PO says he has a love hate relationship with Edna Everage, because sometimes he thinks the character is wonderful, but sometimes she just is too vicious and humiliates middle-aged women.
[56:03] PO says Barry Humphries is a clever man, but the character Sandy Stone leaves him cold because it’s very Australian, and doesn’t translate to England very well.
[56:50] JP plays PO the clips of the comics he has picked.
[57:57] faint Kitty Monologues clip [58:38] clip ends, PO talks about the apologetic style, and he says Mrs Shufflewick, Hylda Baker and Frankie Howerd had it, as did Larry Grayson.
[59:45] faint Robin Williams clip [01:00:13] clip ends [01:00:36] faint Mrs Shufflewick clip [01:01:08] clip ends [01:01:51] faint Joan Rivers clip [01:02:44] clip ends [01:03:20] faint Victor Lewis Smith clip [01:04:08] clip ends [01:04:46] faint Spike Jones Black Bottom clip [01:05:05] clip ends [01:05:43] faint Rag Trade clip [01:06:17] clip ends [01:06:43] faint Phyllis Diller clip [01:07:23] clip ends [01:08:16] faint Steptoe & Son clip [01:08:57] clip ends [01:09:19] faint Julian & Sandy clip [01:10:10] clip ends [01:10:52] faint Les Dawson clip [01:11:33] clip ends
[01:12:05] faint Hylda Baker clip [01:12:52] clip ends [01:13:40] faint Frankie Howerd clip [01:14:18] clip ends [01:16:06] faint Emo Philips clip [01:16:37] clip ends [01:17:20] faint French & Saunders clip [01:18:30] clip ends [01:20:08] faint Goons clip [01:20:54] clip ends, PO talks about Harry Secombe going on to do religious programmes. [01:21:20] faint Les Patterson clip [01:21:50] clip ends [01:22:39] faint Morecambe & Wise clip [01:23:37] clip ends [01:24:34] John Pidgeon asks PO to record the trailers and other things.
[01:28:44] Recording end
NotesLPCM wave 16 bit 44.1kHz. Digital Audio Tape (DAT) captured using a Mac running MacOS; 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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