Barry Cryer

Barry Cryer
Barry Charles
Family name: 
Awards and Honours: 
Work area/craft/role: 
Interview Number: 
Interview Date(s): 
24 May 2018
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Unknown Speaker  0:00  
like this, we keep it small and nice team. So we

Unknown Speaker  0:10  
need to go live. Okay now

Derek Threadgall  0:13  
what we're going to do Barry if you will say who you are and

Unknown Speaker  0:23  
when I was born and where you remember I couldn't remember my pin number at Morrisons this morning. What are you talking about?

Unknown Speaker  0:30  
Okay, should we go for take on this one? Okay, we're running Barry Cryer 26/36 of April 2018 was what we started today. It's for back to history project to this one take one boychoir

Unknown Speaker  0:48  
Berry cry born March 23 1935. in Leeds, Yorkshire. Bury your island here. Yes, I've done it before. Yes. But you wanted that to camera. Yeah, that's what I did. And don't repeat the question. Rephrase the question. I've done one or two of these.

Derek Threadgall  1:17  
And anyway, this is not the back of his face this is not the back

Unknown Speaker  1:28  
stop. No.

Derek Threadgall  1:33  
British entertainment history project.

Unknown Speaker  1:38  
Oh, hello. This is good.

Derek Threadgall  1:44  
Okay, so we've done the intro. On the intro. And we will. Very, very nice. Can we hear that?

Unknown Speaker  1:58  
Yes. What is that a radio? Or is it is it easy?

Unknown Speaker  2:04  
Oh my darlings watching telly in the front room. Tell us your names Terry. unclosing the front and doormat do it. I know

Derek Threadgall  2:20  
it's a mistake.

Unknown Speaker  2:24  
Because if you didn't shut it down, you have that background.

Unknown Speaker  2:26  
Oh sure. I understand. Your pacemaker. I'm switching my mobile off

Derek Threadgall  2:47  
right. Barry pan we have some news, electro background. While your parents in the business.

Unknown Speaker  3:03  
I've no showbusiness background at all. My father was a an accountant, a golf playing Masonic accountant. I don't know where I come from. And he died when I was five. So all my life have been unreal. Some people talk about the Father, I get very you know, and my brother was in the merchant navy. And then he came home and then he came down to London to work as a civil servant. So it was me and my mother was my family background. And she was completely supportive. All the way through. I was remember when I did my very first job at the city writers Theatre in Leeds. It was strippers and I was bottom of the barrel. My very first job very nervous. So no decent woman would be seen in that theatre. It was full of the to put it delicately the raincoats? Who would come see the strippers. And I was living at home obviously coming home after show having supper. And she never asked how it had gone, which hurt a bit. She never said I was a show tonight. Nothing. And by about Wednesday, I'd given up. And on the Saturday we had a matinee. And when I arrived a woman in the box office coming up come in. Was that your mother last night? And I said was what my mother last night. She said it was a small woman. My mom was small with a rain hats on hovering. And she said I don't know why. I thought it was your mother. Because she said what turns Barry Cryer on and I said in about 10 minutes love. She said can I buy a ticket and this woman said, No you can't. You're going in and the commissioner with his epilepsy and everything I showed my mother into the theatre, showed her the seat which she didn't sit on. She stood at the back and I did my act and then she fled into the night. I got home that night that Saturday night. I said you came last night, didn't you? Yes, I did. So I'm waiting for the comment about what she thought he said. The suit look nice. That was it. Don't let them get too big for the boots. The suit look nice. I later found out she was telling my answers that I was very funny. But you don't say that directly just keep him on a level basis. You know, the suit look, I never forgot that. I use the suit quite a lot afterwards, based on her recommendation.

Derek Threadgall  5:40  
Education, we went

Unknown Speaker  5:42  
to grammar school Leeds grammar school, one of my oldest friends sobbing name drop. Alan Bennett was at Leeds modern school. And we never met in Leeds. And we met beyond the fringe when he was at the Fortune theatre and everything and been friends ever since. But when we talk, we're talking shorthand. Because we're talking about leads, we don't have to fill in the details. And we just laugh all the time remembering stuff from leads,

Derek Threadgall  6:12  
and went on to University of Leeds.

Unknown Speaker  6:16  
Yes, young mums. Now as I speak, go into university in the state of debt. And blue eyes got to university free. I got an exhibition, sub scholarship. And, and I blew it. I was running around enjoying life in the Union bar and chasing goals and everything. And my first year results showed it I thought I've let everybody down. And but subsequently, I was in a student show at the old Empire Theatre in Leeds. And a man came up to Lee's to see somebody not me, and saw me telling jokes and often we work. And I'm either half baked idea of being a journalist or not a thought of showbusiness or anything. So I would say which annoys my wife. I've been done by good luck of my life. I was in the right place at the right time.

Derek Threadgall  7:11  
And before you came to London, did you have some early jobs before you got into the business?

Unknown Speaker  7:20  
Yes, I had a gap year after leaving school. I can't remember what it was. I think I was a bit poor. I didn't go into university immediately. So I had real jobs before I went and I worked for Leeds highways department I remember in cuts or road opposite where Yorkshire Television finished up hidden in Leeds. And I worked for Lewis's the big store and got the sack. I was emptying crates in the basement and talking a lot and disappeared into the public wrong moments. I look back with alarm at what I was doing. But I have had proper jobs. And I was a stagehand at Leeds Empire Theatre, because Johnny, GM, one of my mentors, the stage manager, heard I was having a bad time and offered me a job as a stagehand. So, that really got me into the atmosphere, the people I saw and what went on there.

Derek Threadgall  8:21  
So you decided to go to London?

Unknown Speaker  8:24  
Yes. I was working at Leeds Empire Theatre. And David Nixon, who was big star at the time was coming up to Leeds, to star in Cinderella, and the manager of the Empire Theatre, Leo lion. I'm not making that up. I was a big joke with the lads because I'd been at university. And they called me tough. That was all. So I was summoned to his office and said, You're going to look after Mr. Nixon. So I became David Nixon's assistant not on the stage, like his dresser in the room. And that man was marvellous to me. And we talked and talked and talked and he said, You ought to get down to London. And the pantomime finished, and I got an overnight train. From the heat. What you're going to do when you're young going to conquer London, was a 17 day rail return ticket. And David Nixon, when I was in London, invited me to his shows introduced me to people, he was marvellous to me. And also I'm going back to Leeds with my tail between my legs. It hasn't happened. The day before. The ticket run out, I got an audition at the windmill theatre 1030 In the morning, conveyor belt, auditions and I went on a Tuncer T and a voice. No, some jokes. And that was Vivian Van Damme the great man known to us all as VD. And I told some jokes and I sang a song. No any more jokes. told some old jokes no another song. And I said, I've got no music. Ronnie will Bosque for you that was Ronnie bridges appeared this to became a friend. So I sang another song. Thank you. So I thought, Well, that's it. And another man who became a friend called John law came on the stage and said, dressing room 12 A. I said, Sorry, what you're talking about, you've got the job. I was on the stage, at about 1215 in the state of shock. wearing the clothes, I wore the optician and somebody banging some pancake on my face or something. And did about 12 minutes, which is what was required. Six shows that day. And the old man had me in his office between every show between the fish tank and the desk, made me do my act and changed it. You tell that joke too early. That one's good. Do that to the end, change that in one day. Six shows I did that day on automatic pilot couldn't believe it. Run my mother and said I'm a windmill comedian. She had no idea what I was talking about. And that was what a training that was 36 Shows a week. And I met a man called Bruce Forsyth and never found out what happened. He was top of the bill. I was the bottom amazing apprenticeship. And six shows a day it was good training. You learn to die with dignity because they come to see the nudes they hadn't come to you.

Derek Threadgall  11:35  
So when was it that you decide to be a writer,

Unknown Speaker  11:41  
I didn't have things happen. Unmute one or two friends and they'd asked me to write jokes. The first joke ever submitted, I think on a professional basis. Dick Emery who was a big star at the time, I sent some jokes in to the deck Emery show. And I was in Vegas, in Maida Vale in London. And the landlord, his son, Paul, and I sat watching the recovery show and I was thrilled. Nobody told me they suddenly did joke had submitted. And the joke was a man is sitting watching television in the front room. And his wife comes in and says there's a man at the front door says he fought with you in the war. And Hitler walks it. And of joke. That was the first thing I ever wrote for television. And I was thrilled to bits. Now it happened in a very odd sort of way. People I was just giving jokes to mates. Can we just stop I've forgotten the name. I was basically an out of work stand up. We didn't call it that. Then you were a turn or an act and everything. But I got down some jokes of friends and Anna qualia actress as a friend. And there was a reviewer so well known out the fortune search and I wrote a couple of sketches that Anna did. One night done in a room who was a big star at the time, like clubs and everything came in, saw the shelves who wrote up and I had a drink with Danny and the pianist in the shower. Ted Dixon, I will ask by Danny to write him a nightclub show. So suddenly, you transport into another world nightclub show 115 In the morning, and we wrote a show for Danny. Ted subsequently had a run in with the club boss about the balancing check and left. And I'd stayed for quite a few years with Danny writing, nightclub shows and being in them with Ronnie Corbett and the whole gang and being in the right place at the right time. One night, David Frost, who was massive on television at the time, appeared at done his club and invited me in money for a drink. Maybe that's why he came anyway. I don't know. As a result, Ronnie Corbett went into a show called frost report and I became a frost writer. And if you were a frustrate to you could have been rubbish, but that opened all the doors for you. And Ronnie Corbett was in the show that flocked to gang Lana Bart's last musical. If this showed been a success, Rodney wouldn't have been able to do the frost report. So ever outdoors he said, how lucky I was I was in a flop just the right time that enabled him to do the TV series. Right Place Right Time. You can't plan these things but been so lucky. It's happened like that.

Derek Threadgall  14:52  
I think most people would consider you individually Write up but I read somewhere that you prefer.

Unknown Speaker  15:05  
Hardly ever wrote alone. People often say to me now, now I'm older say, Oh, you wrote for everybody. I'll say we wrote for everybody. I never wrote alone, very promiscuous had a whole parade of writing partners through the years, almost invariably better writers than me. I was a support to the writing partnership.

Derek Threadgall  15:29  
So who did you first write with in a partnership? Well, in the

Unknown Speaker  15:37  
the frost are now prior to this. I wrote for the Scottish comedian, Jimmy Logan, who'd come south to do as soon as the BBC. And always remember Jimmy saying to me, if I wear a kilt, the audience will think is trying too hard. And if I don't wear a kilt, the balls back home with seeds sold out. So you had a bit of a problem. And there was a lovely man who'd written a couple of plays Jimmy Don, called some Cree wonder Well, if he's still with us to Belfast came from. He was my first writing partner we wrote together for Jimmy Logan. And then the prostate was started. And I can't remember who was the very first person I wrote with Dick Vosper the American who subsequently I wrote a lot with was there, and the whole of Monty Python before there were pirates and, and the goodness before they were the good is, and wonderful heavyweights like Keith Waterhouse and people like that were writing for frost. It was an amazing era that and we were a whole gang. So I will say we wrote for everybody not I wrote for everybody.

Derek Threadgall  16:52  
When you came to London, and you say you had a windmill experience. And Bruce Forsyth and many others were most comedians at that time working

Unknown Speaker  17:08  
the role of honour to work to the windmill. Well, there were honours boards outside the theatre with all the knowns on how has he come? Michael benteen. You know, and the whole gang everybody how he was subsidising the others at one point he was pre goon. How he was working at the windmill, Eric and Ernie played the windmill and got the sack. Oh, the old mountain rotor. Didn't like Eric's comebacks, whenever he chatted to America couldn't resist it was always coming back with some funny, fast remark. I don't know the ins and outs of it I wouldn't presume and if John Morgan's watching this Jones, sorry about this. Eric and only we're at the windmill and oh, people who work there. It's just just amazing. And Bruce Nice. Bruce Forsyth. And I sat talking in the canteen one day we become friends. And he said, I'm packing in it. I said, What are you talking about? I've got as far as I'm not against packing it in. I said, What are you really talking about? What are you going to do? And I don't know what he was joking. He said are opening ourselves shop tobacconists or something like that. I'll see what's the following year 1958 I saw that my friend was going to be a competitor of sun in heights at the Palladium moto. Oh, great. And I was walking down Kingsway in London. coming towards me it was Bruce. He'd been at a press conference he was gone to do is do its first palladium not Sunday, millions of viewers knows days. And oh boy. Lovely reunion. Knutsson what's happened to the tabacon this these had postponed postponed for a long time afterwards.

Derek Threadgall  18:52  
You were in Express? Yeah, the play

Unknown Speaker  18:58  
the music it was a musics spelt espresso. Nobody got espresso in those days. And yes, I audition for that. And I was in a bedsit in North Finchley and also, here we go audition story again. What about the song? I don't know what so I wrote one in my bed set just the lyric obviously. A song called express her Bongo kid from a backstreet where the crazy beaten all this sounds like what am I going to do? I've got no dots, no music. So I went to a shop run by a man I'll say this carefully called Duck Hunt. And he hired out musical instruments. And he was amused by this young guy said I want to have some bongos. Well hire them. I said yeah. For an audition. Oh, right. How long do you want them for us in about two hours. And he made me play A couple of quid or something a couple of pounds. So I went to the Strand Theatre. And I went on and I did a bit of a reading from a script and they said, you've got a song as a debit, no music gone, and move. MANKIEWICZ had written it. Monty Norman was a friend to this day. They're sitting in the stalls and I start hammering these bongos because I couldn't really play I nearly knocked him onto the stage singing the song, so Bongo an awful silence when I finished it. And Monty Norman came up on the stage and said, where to get that song? I'll sit around I wrote it last night. He says, Thank calm for that. They thought there was a song called it's Russell Bongo, and they might get sued or get into trouble. I got that job. It was shared cheek. I think.

Derek Threadgall  20:52  
There's a strange heading here called the purple people eat

Unknown Speaker  21:01  
purple people eater. Shed woolly shed bully country singer, an actor. He was one of the baddies in High Noon who was going to kill Gary Cooper. But he wrote his like a song about an extra terrestrial and at the purple people eater. And it was quite a big hit in America a big ish hit here. And I recorded a little English cover version. And I never found out what actually happened. But I think his record wasn't issued in Scandinavia for contractual reasons or something. They pushed out my little English version. And I was number one in Finland. I'm very proud of that. It's almost CV number one in Finland.

Derek Threadgall  21:55  
Last the 1940 games. Yes. We writing

Unknown Speaker  22:00  
I was in I was involved in that last 1948 show with Dick Vosper, who will become a good writing mate by then. And that was a precursor to Monty Python. And it was a famous sketch in there for Yorkshiremen talking and trying to top each other's stories who would want a hard life they'd had, which is referred to as a Monty Python sketch because it was done again in Monty Python. And timbral. Taylor was it gets crossed? We did it first, less than 9048 show. And there's an old clip up. I'm never the brief cameo appearances and walking weights are in that sketch.

Derek Threadgall  22:47  
This one here. I will say it very carefully. too old,

Unknown Speaker  22:55  
too old farts in the night with me and Willie Rushton. Yeah, the title was Willie's idea. He said, we can't get done under the trade descriptions act. So an accurate description. Yeah, well, he and I have met and worked together and been around and then things got a bit quiet. And Willie immediately the pragmatic man said, Let, let's do our own show COMM And we, we did it as a charity show for the spinal injuries Association. We're very happy so to do for quite a while and then we'll know and done that. Done that contract, make some money with it and do it properly. And spine Lynch's Association, they were lovely when we first did it in Edinburgh as a show per se. Blake supplied Taylor's port for the audience, the audience of the drink as they went in, so they're in a fairly warm mood when they went in, but we'll United at first at the small Hill Street venue in Edinburgh, and then we had a very good time with it afterwards talking with it.

Derek Threadgall  24:04  
You don't appear to go too much on analysing comedy.

Unknown Speaker  24:13  
Now I don't believe in There's a great saying analysing comedy is like dissecting a frog. Nobody laughs and the frog dies. You know, I don't. Something's either funny or it isn't. Ours is the most naked game in the business, I think because if you sing or you're in a play, or in a band or whatever, you could have a discussion with somebody afterwards and they didn't like it to new dead but you can talk about why didn't you like it not? If somebody doesn't laugh. That's the end of the discussion. There's no way you can then analyse what they've just heard or seen and that's why it was fun. No, leave it. There didn't laugh immediately. It's over. So it's so rough hold game.

Derek Threadgall  24:58  
I love your Comment. writers don't retire. The phone stops ringing.

Unknown Speaker  25:07  
Yes, it's a solid basis of insecurity, we don't retire, we get retired. The phone stops ringing in those days, you know. And it's been that way all my life, which is looking back the only way I really wanted it. I didn't want to sit in an office all day doing the same job. But I sort of enjoyed the insecurity which is when you get married and you got a family and children, you've got to stop enjoying insecurity and get off with it.

Derek Threadgall  25:38  
So your big one for what is the I'm sorry? I haven't a clue.

Unknown Speaker  25:47  
Yes. I'm sorry, I haven't a clue was a spinoff from a radio series called I'm sorry, I'll read that again. With Gordon garden, Tim Rotella. John, please. Yep, just Joe candle milady. And then, in varying ways, they all got lucky. We're working in television, everything. And the BBC wanted another radio series. And Grand Garden taught. What are we going to do, and he devised the show that wasn't really scripted. It was full of ideas and knockabout and everything. And he didn't register it, which a lot of the young ones now own those shows, which is good. And when we were going to do a stage first now at the BBC said, you can't use the title, which is interesting. About three years ago, I think when we started doing the stage show, and I was talking to a journalist, and he said, what's all this about the stage show and I said, blah, blah, blah. And I said, the BBC say, you can't use a title, which will pan out. And it's all over the papers about the BBC will not let these people use the title and they backed off. But it started as a spin off from the other show. And it had Jordan cleaves the actress Joe candle Milady, in Rota, and they didn't like it because it wasn't scripted and solid, didn't like the messing about. And it was all sort of foundering a bit at the time. It wasn't regarded wasn't going to survive. So there's a bit of a crisis going on. And David hatch who was producing those days models, he had faith in it, and they got me and Willie Ruston, and I'd been in the first series dapping for the great Humphrey Lyttleton when he couldn't do a couple of recordings, but they got me and William, which was one of the best things that happened. Looking back, it was just great. been there ever since. We lost Willian 1996 and growing garden and termini, still heavily involved in it with a guest.

Derek Threadgall  28:02  
So can I ask you, your writing for a particular person? How do you go about that? When you know you've got a particular person or a particular person who does this? So how do you actually get your bowl

Unknown Speaker  28:23  
I was sad writing for a particular show or a particular person. You're like a tailor making suits, you've got to fit them. And as I keep saying, I'll never wrote alone. And I've compared notes for younger writers now working partnership was a sitter on a stand up. Now it'd be the laptop or whatever. In our day, it was me sitting with a piece of paper and a pen or a typewriter. And John Junkin, or whoever was might have been striding about the room, John would walk about the room, wiggling his glasses doing, Eric Morgan, you have to get the you've got to hear the voice in your head and see them. You could write the same routine for different people and the routine would be different. You've got to fit fit the client.

Derek Threadgall  29:12  
So when you you do some work with some of the American comedian George Burns

Unknown Speaker  29:21  
Yeah, the there was a an era of time, particularly when I was working at Elstree and then terms television I met George Burns, Bob Hope, leads her idols Jack Benny got to know when he was over here and wrote for wrote for him with a Roger called Ronnie Cass, who was a musician as well we wrote for Jack Benny, who played a mean conceited coward, and was a lovely man. In life, he was just a lovely guy, and I thought, I can't believe I'm working with this man. It was just just a joy.

Derek Threadgall  30:02  
You have to adapt yourself to the American side or review. Like for, as you write for us?

Unknown Speaker  30:13  
Well, as I say, you've got to match the client, whether it was a desert commerce show. So Jack, at some point we'll be working with dads in the sketch. And we did a sketch where they're both in a dressing room about to do the show. And Ronnie and I wrote this sketch tool and talking doesn't Jack Benny. And Jack Benny would very politely stop when they were reading it through and said, I wonder if we could just do that. There. Or maybe I could say this When does said that because we were listening. And we recorded the sketch and does O'Connor said to me, he said, I've just been taken to the cleaners by a master. He said, anybody watching this sketch, won't even see me at all. He said, It's all about Jack Benny's. And it was an ego chap, and he loved other people getting Laos, which is very rare in the comedian, but he knew he would also get allow for this. With his reaction to what they said he was he was a master. And George Burns. I met he'd been the straight man and a double act with his wife Gracie. George said to me, I spent years just stunning us in the grocery what happened then? What was his name? And then sadly, Gracie died. And he did an act for a while with another woman, younger woman who was very good, but the whole flavour had gone. And that was very sad. And they all broke up that and George Burns suddenly found himself a single act. And then realised he could do it. It's suddenly I realised I wasn't just doing Feedlines anymore. And it was just amazing the career he had subsequently.

Derek Threadgall  32:07  
Seems to me that in the era of the 50s 40s and 50s, the comedy there was based on character. Not actually individual comedians, but they were like sick.

Unknown Speaker  32:27  
Oh, dear, sorry about that. Oh, boy, what can we do? Could you switch that off

Unknown Speaker  32:32  
is a nice comfortable shop.

Derek Threadgall  32:38  
The sort of comedy that was around at the time the 40s 50s on the radio, a lot are taken from here. And others of that ilk are all based on characters. Although you knew the person like you we Edwards was playing a character in it. But it seems to me now with the newer, younger comedians. These just stand don't seem to be any sort of characters.

Unknown Speaker  33:15  
I was suddenly young ones play bizarre characters. What I've noticed with the sitcoms that are on now the city's very good. But they're like half hour plays sometimes that the sheer fun on the warm seems to have gone and a lot of brilliant people around now. But it's a meme generation and you're out you're talking about yourself. Observational and what happens in your life. And in our day, we are never talked about ourselves in the hatch. We talked about other people. So no, it's it goes in cycles. Everything goes along anything old. That's gone. That's finished, then that comes back. It's like the blast of alternative comedy by Knowlton sounding off about Margaret's Hatcher and everything. And you saw oh boy, but the eternal this goes through during the time of Ben Elton Eric and Ernie Tommy Cooper, les Dawson, still there and doing some analysis for ones that couldn't be dated because they were never topical. Eric morcom very shrewdly. Don't do anything. We were going to do a Christmas show once. And Eric Morgan said to me, I don't want any Christmas trees, reindeers, cotton, wool, beards, and all that. I said, why not? He said we won't get a repeat. And that very show was repeated the following Easter. But the great one Tommy Cooper never said anything remotely relevant to the time it was jokes and all is marvellous, but you can't date if you're not topical. You're either just funny or you're not. And that's why they survive and some very good People of years ago don't survive the names because they were very much of their time. What fascinates me now? You mentioned we say a name like Dick Emery or Arthur Haynes. They were big stars in that day. Nobody talks about them now. out of malice reunion with Mike Yeoward recently, who was a big star and speaks very warmly about the current generation, Rory Bremner and John Cole. Sean impression it's around now. And we've had a reunion we all had a lunch together it was great. But it was a different era because now you've got 100 channels and we're on a sock now. In those days families gallon round television to watch a show. And you saw a show when it went out. Pre the video recorder and all that. Kenny Everett said you can always tell if someone is got a video recorder because you say to them, did you see that show last night and they say Not yet. Different world. You had to watch the show and it was on pubs and restaurants would empty if there was something on television that was the week that was it was known. I spoke to a guy worked in a restaurant he said customers looking at their watches. Saturday night they're going home to watch that it's another age isn't it?

Derek Threadgall  36:33  
Also, it was another age but it also like Johnny's face to death us do part cooking show that now

Unknown Speaker  36:46  
why they want to remake shows that were great at the time there in that time capsule. Till death us do part was about a bigot. He was racist, homophobic misogynist everything. And it was, as we know, it was valon ritual, the great Johnny spate wrote it. Oh, and Warren was Jewish. And he said to Johnny, once, Alf, Alf Garnett would be anti semitic. Johnny had never written that because his friend who was playing it was Jewish. Warren said no, alpha would be anti semitic. And Johnny wrote this marvellous thing where they discovered a family name wasn't Garnet. Originally, it was diamond and he got Jewish blur. I am not Jewish, and he bellowing for three pages. And he stopped and done in Nicholas's was said, Well, do you want this bacon sandwich or not? That's all it was. But then they remake it. With a very good article Simon de Now there must have looked at the old scripts going, Oh, our can't do that. Can't do that. Can't do that. So what you had was Al's Garnet ranting about women for half an hour for no apparent reason. Leave it there. Warren said, they were horrified or the family got it needed saying they couldn't believe what was happening.

Derek Threadgall  38:16  
Know what it was of its time and brilliant. Oh, it was I remember one particular episode and the latest series to death us do part when I think his wife in the in the series had died. And he's by himself, our fridge by himself. And they they get a carrot. And the carrot who comes in is Western DNA. That was so funny. Because the way I've played it. Yes. He couldn't, couldn't.

Unknown Speaker  38:53  
Well, Johnny Roach at the US, Alf in conjunction with any black face ready suggestions. And of course, the way Johnny wrote it was the other half of the equation, a black individual would turn out to be more intelligent and more tolerant an owl. I mean, there must be an equivalent of ALF Garnet that you can do now. But the world is full of somebody in a room wanting to protest and be offended by something I want particularly with the Windrush atmosphere at the moment. I think we need in these times like this, and comedians, some of the youngest I'm not so doing stuff about Windrush, I'm sure, but we need a show that is taken out of the whole Windrush debate in a very fierce, funny way.

Derek Threadgall  39:47  
I think you're right, that there are things that people are scared of actually writing or saying, you know, we're in a PC World And I think that's very sad. Because there doesn't seem to be a sense of humour around. People are so serious these days.

Unknown Speaker  40:10  
Serious comedy rules now. PC comedy, what's wrong with being offended? be offended and debate the issue. Or this is a quaint old thing. If you don't like a programme, don't watch it. Are you saying because you personally are offended? Nobody else should see that. That's what you're saying. It's the same age generation again, I am offended therefore this shall not be. No,

Derek Threadgall  40:38  
that is the powers that be also when they're pouring programmes or going on maybe one complaint? Yes. And I think that is so sad. And more than once we've heard it.

Unknown Speaker  40:54  
We have had a complaint. We've had it with our radio show. Sorry, I have no clue because we do jokes about Lionel Blair, which is full of euphemism and double entendre, which we've been accused of being homophobic. Doing jokes about logical now there's a debate to be had there. Okay. I'm quite prepared to discuss it with people.

Derek Threadgall  41:18  
I think that we are now becoming a nation of voyeurs. Because we love watching stuff, which you wouldn't think about.

Unknown Speaker  41:34  
Or why can watch now nothing to do with comedy or anything that the stuff you can watch on that now is just amazing. Well, people sounding off about everything and doing vile. You can't do a comedy show about her. A bigger like half Garnet. But you can click on see somebody being racist and bigoted and vile easily now, but just happens to not be a comedy.

Derek Threadgall  42:02  
So how do you say it? I mean, you've got the two camps. We've got the, the the older camp, which you and myself, were around, we know what comedy was in the 40s 50s 60s. To a certain extent. And I just believe it was it was successful, because it was character driven. Yeah. Now we move into the one we'll call them the presence, the presence stage with the younger comedians, which is, I don't think certainly it's not character driven in the same way as it was.

Unknown Speaker  42:51  
The basis of comedy years ago was, was the characters and often you watched an old stepped on some. I remember watching a Steptoe and Son, and I hardly love for half an hour, but it was brilliant. It was character driven, he was trapped with his father, and nearly all the great comedies for about people who are trapped. Basil Fawlty was trapped Victor Meldrew was trapped, Rigsby was trapped. They were all trying it out as Tony Hancock was trapped. They all had aspirations to get out and you thought, no, they're not gonna make it. And you could watch a comedy in those days. That are there the single joking the laughs came out of the characters. But I never give up i live in hope that things do go in cycles. I think we're rushing to a cliff edge with comedy and I think some some genius has gone to make something work and a big success that doesn't answer the PC code. And that will encourage other people. Good to meet copyright

Derek Threadgall  44:10  
as you said earlier, we have got so many different areas where you can listen or watch communication wise and television and other stuff. But if you've got 100 television channels so you got to watch 100 Looking for something that you want to actually work?

Unknown Speaker  44:33  
Yeah, I don't know where we go from now with 100 of all television channels, a proliferation of things all over the place. You haven't got the clean cut picture of what's going on when you had BBC, ITV. It isn't as clean cut a world now it's all over the place, but I'm just an idealist. I just hope there's gonna be a bit of a breakthrough by somebody brilliant and we get something Would that flavour? I hope?

Derek Threadgall  45:03  
Yes. What's the I guess? I've always been, I was brought up in that era, that same era as yourself. And I learned rep R T. They don't know what you're talking about.

Unknown Speaker  45:25  
Know that you refer to Satan as relevant learning not to idioms, rap party and affectionate sort of sarcasm. And people are literal. But don't know the level of this is coming from older euphemism or what are you talking about, you know, fascinating are taught to gay mates about the little Blair lines on our radio show. And they say they're just funny. There's nothing basically homophobic about it. You know, I don't know. But I'm prepared to debate it. I'm not gonna just retreat, I will happily talk to anybody on that subject.

Derek Threadgall  46:16  
But I also like the last lines in classic, classic films. There's two I remember very clearly, one was a film called let's, let's make novel something he used long tall, and Marilyn Monroe. There's a scene where they're both both on the outside of hotel, and they are they want a taxi. So she she turns to him and says, Call me a taxi. So he's a you're a taxi. Lovely.

Unknown Speaker  46:51  
Was something like Some like it hot. But I'm a man. Nobody's perfect. Oh, it's immaculately constructed all and that the mention of Some like it hot. I'm sorry about this. You want to really study name drop, and no start again. Talking of Let's make love. I spoke to Marilyn Monroe on the phone. That's it. Now you can say I don't believe that. And also that doesn't matter. I can tell you where and when and why and how I did. Frankie Bourne was in that film. And Marilyn came on at him a bit too partly in under panicky sudden for his wife and children. And then she turned her attention to Yvonne tanned. And Frank Smith and Frank was a mentor of mine. He was marvellous to me. He came with me to my audition for with Fontana, the recording company. And he was a big star there. And I think I only got this little recording contract because oh no is Frankie bones with him? I think the only reason I got that recording contract which has dropped to the crush after three records. But anyway, his manager was Michael Paul cave, who had an office in Chancery Lane. And after Frank had been over there doing let's meet love. They arranged I can't know what time it was in America. But now it'd be on satellite or whatever. There was a phone link up with America. We're going to talk to Frankie born in this office in London and a Weber on the other end. And I was out of work. I was making the tea and answering the phone in this office and the phone rings. So I'll pick it up. It's at the pole cave office. As Yes, I have Miss Monroe for you. What? And um, they're all having a cup of tea wondering about they don't know what, hello. And she said, Who's that? And I said you can't believe I said my name is Barry. Hello, Barry. Marilyn, I said hello. What do you do, Barry? We talked for about two or three minutes. She was lovely. And I'm trying to mind said he won't he and somebody finally picks the phone up. But I spoke to Marilyn Monroe on the phone. And she spoke to you and she spoke to me and she was absolutely lovely. She was talking to a young stranger. I wasn't a journalist or anything. So she really liked studying with some

Derek Threadgall  49:33  
of these actors and actresses I found when I was at the studio, Shepperton Studios, I actually knocked Deborah Carr. She was making a film with Cary Grant. And she was coming off the stage through the fire door and I was going onto the stage through the fire door and I am not completely on the ground, and I thought my pee 45 was flattering. And I apologised and apologised profusely. And she said, No, she said it was my fault.

Unknown Speaker  50:17  
I should have been no big star ego or anything. gives a whole new means a car crash doesn't

Derek Threadgall  50:26  
do things and you

Unknown Speaker  50:27  
know, you see these little moments revealed people when it's no big ego going on the quiet, normal natural, some of the big stars, some of the big stars, whereas some aren't. No, no.

Derek Threadgall  50:46  
Okay, so we're getting on fine here. Let's move on a bit through 1995. This is your Yes. And why are you surprised? You didn't know?

Unknown Speaker  51:03  
Well, I, I came home one day and there was a piece of paper by the phone. This is your life and a phone number. And I run my wife when I was out and bless her heart. I said what says and she lied. She said, Oh, they've been wanting to get you for this is your life. And I said you didn't know the person and it wouldn't have worked. So that was that and I believed it. Then Willie Rushton and I got a call would we do a programme talking about doublets or something but Barry talk was an old friend. The way Willie played this looking back was amazing. He said that we don't want to do this, do we? Oh, what's that all about? And I said, Well, it's chalky, mate. We ought to do it. Well, if you want to do it, I'll do it. It'd be better grudgingly as if you didn't want to do it. I mean, if I'd agreed with them so we turn up and as Barry took an old friend and an audience and bonus got his notes nothing oh, maybe we'll he was right. What's this all about? And we talk away and suddenly the audience all start clapping for no reason. My class falls walked on with a red book mother are they doing really? And I thought no, I was on is doing Barry took a mic last fall did a brilliant Paul's he had Barry Cryer, this is your it's a weird experience the music strike suddenly walk away and they stop the camera as well as setting up for the show. And now that is an amazing experience and you're your own wife and kids come on and fed down in a room comes on John Pertwee, and then Graham garden and Tim Brooke Taylor and Bernie Cribbins. Oh my goodness. And Brenda bear who? Marvellous singer who finished up being a postmistress. She was in the student show with me. She walked on. Oh, it's just and then I sold us a piano there was a trumpet on it. Colin cellmate comes on and announces tells me I'm going to sing show me the way to go home and Humphrey Lyttleton came on up and we finished it with me singing show me the way to go home accompanied by a great little turn on the trumpet. What a day that was.

Derek Threadgall  53:29  
Did you have any inkling what you started? This is your mind people coming on but did you feel that there was someone who you hadn't seen come on yet? Who you probably would like to have come

Unknown Speaker  53:51  
but all this is this is about I don't want to use our nephew was that it was so pista wouldn't let him on. Now

Unknown Speaker  54:07  
to take one

Unknown Speaker  54:14  
No, that's the only Yeah, those two things did not fuse out of it. And yeah, only one woman apart from the immediate family

Derek Threadgall  54:34  
we stopped the camera again. Alright. Okay. Okay. So that turned out to be a really big jolly

Unknown Speaker  54:48  
Oh, yeah. Well, I've done I've done this as your life and I've done Desert Island Discs. I've appeared was salty. I think I've achieved all my ambitions I think all the iconic shows

Derek Threadgall  55:09  
you were awarded the OBE for services to entertainment.

Unknown Speaker  55:17  
Yes, I accepted it because I found out how it works. You're recommended and lobbied for by friends and colleagues and I thought that was great. And I was very touched and that but as the years go by, is the older the British Empire? What British Empire and when you think of people like paramedics and firefighters and people do community work, and someone like me gets that for doing the job I enjoy for years. Now I'm arrogant to my humility. Octane was not about so it's in wardrobe. I don't mention it or show it anyway. And not just I'm at a reunion with Petula Clark recently. And she's got it titled thinking she said houses in a box you said that everyone, we we reach common ground, we said we've got it for doing so we we enjoyed there are people who should get others who don't sound ungrateful? Because, as I say, I took it because I found out how it worked and friends were lobbying for you and everything. But looking back, I don't think I deserve it. So I don't mention it. And I won't hand it back. Because I think not showing off. Oh, 100 mine back, you know, I just leave it

Derek Threadgall  56:45  
would be interpreted. You're saying you're doing a job you'd like to? Of course you are. But in doing that, you're bringing so much pleasure, et cetera, to 1000s if not millions of people. Is that not worth something?

Unknown Speaker  57:07  
Well, while out my job, gives people pleasure and makes them laugh, but hardly compared to people who are saving people's lives. I agree with and working in a community and really doing good stuff. Now, I just think it's a question of proportion. nutso.

Derek Threadgall  57:24  
But you're also with the granddaughter of water rats. Yes. The reason I put that one in because as as I said, the interview goes on. It's a website and we had hits from over 50 countries. So a lot of will not know what he is or what he does.

Unknown Speaker  57:50  
Granddaughter of water rats was started dog beginning of the last century, I think it's really incredibly old now with some old professionals in that era, who were talking one night and decided they wanted to do something for people in their business, who are having a bad time through illness or just rabid unemployment or whatever. And it started off water rat rats backwards as a WordStar. There was some pollen involved on let's all what should we call ourselves, the grand Lord of water at and they do marvellous work without much publicity because it's within the business looking after people. And I was proposed and seconded and oh, you have initiation ceremony and everything. I'm an invisible man often because the launch meetings showed my father being amazing. There on a Sunday and on feet up at home on a Sunday Iona or still doing stuff now and again, I'm travelling. I'm going somewhere or arriving back somewhere on a Sunday. So as long as you apologise they don't mind rolls over the ritual won't be there on Sunday that set like completely Oh, no great outfit. I think young ones aren't Joining us now there was a whole generation was that they don't join things with a title and have roles, you know, within my wife's a lady rattling and they have a queen and a princess and all that. And Terry, my darling was saying that the young ones don't get all that stuff. They don't want to know about all that. So it's a shame.

Derek Threadgall  59:49  
Talking about the young ones don't get involved. I think that goes on a much wider scale together with young ones that we want. We will We'd like to get so many organisations out we're not getting the youngsters. Yes. And maybe it's because they've got they don't want to really get involved with organisations, although we hoped they would.

Unknown Speaker  1:00:17  
Maybe we've got a constant theme here. It's the me generation. I don't want to get involved in anything where I'm losing my individuality. I am now the princess or I am now Prince rat, or are just a number on the list. And there's a positive side that I suppose but the negative side is they don't. They don't join. They don't want to join or getting involved and all that stuff.

Derek Threadgall  1:00:46  
And of course, the members of these organisations are all getting older. Yes. And there's no one coming in to replace, replace. Go help.

Unknown Speaker  1:00:58  
That's right. Yes, it happens with the mortar outs and Lady rattling ins and so on. Many of whom are good friends of ours. But it is an older generation and they need they need an injection that they're not getting.

Derek Threadgall  1:01:15  
There's one point when we were talking about when you started off, you, you mentioned about gig you did in Guernsey work, yes. What happened there?

Unknown Speaker  1:01:35  
Well, I always say that in our business anyway, failure is funny. Looking back on it success isn't funny. Somebody says I tore them up last night stock. Oh, really? How interesting. But we all stopped start swap stories about failure. And I was in my after dinner phase. And I flew over to Guernsey and charmy born met me at the airport and I go and have a shower in the room and I thought feeling good. And I went down to the bar out in the noise was definitely dinner hasn't even started yet. Everybody seemed to be drunk. Two men put the sky electrics model. I'm not making this up model railway on the floor of the bar, and we're giving you a running commentary on these trains. And a man dug me in the ribs and said, and someone was giving a running commentary. Man dug me in the ribs and said, You better be funny to not be better than I am pointing at that comment, hustle. This is all feeling really good. So we go into the dining room, a man was sick on the carpets as we all went in. There was almost a fight there was a room of police were being called you couldn't make it up. There was a wall of noise. And a man stood up to introduce me I'll feel alone. I stood up on the wall of noise hardly abated. And I started telling jokes and one or two seem to be listening in this tumult of noise It was just amazing. I did about 10 minutes not supposed to do 3540 minutes and sat down and they hardly notice when I sat down and two guys came over to me and said that was disgusting. Come on and took me away to the bar really nice. And I had a very good night with those overslept, miss my plane the next morning, got home found out the company didn't want to pay me. That been redundancies in the company. There'd been a big thing going on I didn't know about and oh, that was amazing. That light. My competence. Mark, confidence was shattered. But on the Friday night that very same week. I went to Glasgow to do a big award show and I thought oh boy. And that was quite heavy duty introducing all the awards and everything. Had a marvellous night. And afterwards a man came up to the bar and said I was in Guernsey on Wednesday. This is what you really like is it. That was quite a week. Talking of failure, I must tell you my favourite. It's not about heckling. But tamo Canos an old friend told the story he's dying as we say in a club one night, every joke everything is sweating and he feels humiliated. And he told one joke or one story in the back of the club he heard very sarcastically said thank you saw and the man said I was smacking the source bottle I'm gonna have a car Break

Derek Threadgall  1:05:00  
Yes Have a coffee break

Derek Threadgall  0:00  
Come in. I'll start off. Right continuation. continuation. paragraph three, take one. Talking about comedians going on stage, I actually saw do just that. And it was the Fairfield halls in Croydon. And the top of the act was Freddie Starr. And there was a support comedian, who took the first half of the show on Friday would take three seconds. And this poor guy, I felt really, really sad. He was stand up. But the material was, and that's a big hole. 800 seats I think, in the in the main hall, which is where it was. And nobody laughed. Nobody laughed. And he was struggling. For goodness sake, it was like seeing someone. Literally don't. Yeah, you know, it was

Unknown Speaker  1:15  
it was so bad. It's a hard word. We'll use dying when you're not doing well in comedy. Dickey Henderson who I knew his father to get on this and senior had been a comedian as well. And Dickie said, I was young and brash. And I went home one night, my dad was standing in the wings. And Dickie said, that was full of myself, and I was dying. And I was saying to the audience, what's the name of his church and all join hands and put your own plug on try and contact the living and doing all these lines. And he said, I was struggling, but I thought, I'm winning here. I'm doing these funny lines. They said he came over stage, his father gave him a real smack. His father said, they didn't know you were dying till you told them. It's some weird experience. When you see some way, there was a marvellous man, Alan King American. And he wasn't known in this country, but he was supporting Judy Garland. And he came on and first half and two very muted applause hardly any reception at all. And he gots a microphone. His first line was, I'm not mad about you either. But then he got them. He warmed up when he got them, but he wasn't unnerved by the fact he was going on to practically nothing when he walked on the stage, you know, you see the strength of people and they can cope like that.

Derek Threadgall  2:53  
Yeah, he went, those doors will die. He was booked. It had been booked in to a club in Perth fleet. And my wife it was so we decided to go and we didn't know he died. So we went to the club, and we were told that he had died and someone else very kindly agreed to come in his place. And this guy was good. He was good. But he was to, he was telling straight jokes. But it wasn't any characterising. And, of course, in the interval, he was told by the management, spice it up, spice it up. And he did a spiced it up, and it was all language.

Unknown Speaker  4:01  
What's a lot? Oh, it's sad, isn't it? Yeah,

Derek Threadgall  4:05  
he did a good job the first half, but obviously that wasn't the audience for

Unknown Speaker  4:09  
it. But it's unnerving when you're doing a show replacing somebody who's died. But the stories people tell about themselves. Those used to tell when he was struggling on his way up. It hadn't happened for him yet. And he was appearing in the back room of a pub somewhere. And he said nothing else that was getting a laugh at all. He said I pause at one point and a voice in the back of the audience that used to be a pool table in here. It's

Derek Threadgall  4:42  
good stuff. Right. minutes now, okay, well, we're quarter to six. So should we can we wrap it up there?

Unknown Speaker  4:57  
Don't misunderstand me because I've enjoyed this Probably very happy to wrap it in half. Well, thank you. It's been a pleasure. And we'll make another day and do some more. Yeah. Okay.

Derek Threadgall  5:11  
Okay. Okay, that's it.

Unknown Speaker  5:15  
You've got paperwork to do. Yeah, camera man.

Derek Threadgall  5:17  
We have to say that

you've just been watching the first part of interview with Barry Cryer on the 26th of April 2018. And you can now watch Barry on the second part of his interview on the 24th of May 2018. The interviewer is Derrick Threadgill and on camera is Ray Pascoe.

Right in the first interview, Barry, you mentioned that writers do not retire. The telephone just stops ringing. Can we start with the telephone actually ringing and what happens after that?

Unknown Speaker  6:38  
The telephone rang many years ago. And I will now rewind and tell you why it rang. I was doing stand up in those days. We didn't call it stand up. You're an actor return. And I was in digs in Maida Vale in London. And I'd been sending some jokes in to the dick Emery show. Dick was a big star on live television at the time. And one night I sat with a landaid His son, Paul Paul l boss, who versus named Paul bozell, and it was a singer. And we were watching the Camry show. Suddenly, one of my jokes came up. And the aftermath of that was subsequently I got a phone call offering me a job writing for the D Camry show. So that was a phone call that sent me off in an entirely new direction. I'd gone into tele writing

Derek Threadgall  7:42  
so from there,

Unknown Speaker  7:44  
you don't want the joke? Do you? Know Yes,

Derek Threadgall  7:49  
this is important.

Unknown Speaker  7:52  
You might be wondering what that joke was to launch my career. A man is sitting in his front room watching television and his wife came in and said as a man he has he fought with you in the war and he beams us it's our bring him in and Hitler walked tip

Derek Threadgall  8:15  
a game changer very game changer. So from there what is the target the thinking of what happens when you are asked by someone Viet, an agent directly to yourself? What happens then, is common, you know, or someone you don't know.

Unknown Speaker  8:45  
It's the hand. It's the handset saga, you look back. And it's a series of accidents and being in the right place at the right time and everything. And following upon the camera incident. I became an honorary Scott. I will explain because one of the first jobs and I was spoken to this man today on the phone, Stanley Baxter, who was a big star in Scotland, an actor who was also brilliant comedian and impressionist, and Stanley came south which the big Scott stars rarely did. And I worked with Stanley bats on BBC, which then led to me working with Jimmy Logan on BBC television. So they said your Henri Scott front of the family. Oh, and Jimmy Logan said to me, if I wear a kilt, the English audience will say he's trying too hard. And if I don't wear a kilt, the balls at home will say he's sold out. So I'm quite pleased and then subsequently working with Billy Connolly and And you know, Chick Marie Yeah and I'm friend of the family and to this day on the radio Graham garden Anya you will have had your tea and uncomplete fraud Graham is half Scottish but we did a gig in Glasgow and which also will get lynched no take loved it because we don't play the stereotypes mean and everything we're just to quaint old Scotsman.

Derek Threadgall  10:29  
Did you have any any problems with the Scots? Did you have any problems at all?

Unknown Speaker  10:39  
I'm afraid the answer is no, there were no problems at all. Because you weren't playing a stereotype. Oh mean and this that now that we just played these two rather strange older man who lived in this village and that adventures with your lead ship, the Squire and the visitors and everything and it was accepted up there we were delighted. The origin of dat for me was city varieties leads to TV show the good old days, my hometown and the first time I ever did it. I pandered to my local Leeds audience I say my girls a Yorkshire girl and Yorkshire stories and the producer Barney Colin said very good. Gonna use you again. I said Oh, thank you. He said not that don't want that again. So I said well, what do you want? Is it Scotsman? Scotsman wise had soy plain and Scott and a sketch on telly last night. So there we go again, you don't know in which direction you're going. I suddenly became the man in a kilt with a Thomas Shanter on the good old days. Fraudulent Scott was a joy to do but I became stuck with that image on the good old days.

Derek Threadgall  12:01  
You had written for a number of top comedians etc. You said in the first interview, I think we worked it out in about 21. worked it out about 21 comedians that you've written for Oh, really including, yeah, I got.

Unknown Speaker  12:22  
One of my age they say you wrote for everybody I say, we wrote for everybody I never wrote alone was a whole gang of us. And I was promiscuous. I had so many writing partners, invariably much better writers than me. I was pretty shrewd. I like working with people who are better than me and I was the support act.

Derek Threadgall  12:45  
So who were some of the writers working with you?

Unknown Speaker  12:54  
Well, I also have been dumped by good luck all my life and my darling wife says such as false modesty. But I've been in the right place at the right time. And as hold going, I was working for David Frost, the frost stable. He was a practising catalyst. He was wonderful with people. And Graham Chapman had obviously been working with John please and still was. David Frost spotted something about me and Graham we become mates. And he signs up to write a sitcom for Ronnie Corbett. And Graham and I had never thought about writing together. And it was just a joy. It seemed to work frosted spotted something. And John Cleese is saying, to Graham Chapman, are you being unfaithful to me with Bas, I'm old. And Graham and I subsequently wrote over 50 shows together. And it was all because of frost. He was the man. He was the catalyst. He was the catalyst. Yep. Practising catalyst.

Derek Threadgall  14:00  
You've seen the Changing Faces of comedy over the years, over the time that you were writing in the new set in part one, the newer comedians write their own material now. So where do you think it's going for people like yourself? In the future? Are you gorgeous? Do you think you continue writing or run these comedians?

Unknown Speaker  14:30  
I no longer write for other people. I had a wonderful time for years writing brother people. I now write and get ideas for myself. Colin, sell my mate. The pianists we do shows together Ronnie golden, a good old friend. We do a song based show. We write the songs. That's what I do. Now. I haven't written for a show for quite some years. The last time I had a marvellous time and writing for Russ Abbott. And if you think about that, that's a few years ago, but no my life change. But once a writer or as a writer, you're always jotting something down and some ideas come into your head or something you heard during the day, you never stop. It's in your nature.

Derek Threadgall  15:17  
So what do you think about the current crop of comedians who write their own material?

Unknown Speaker  15:27  
The current crop? The some brilliant people around there are in every generation, quoting the great Arthur ASCII, everyone generations are same, a load of crap and a few brilliant people. But there's a lack of individuality. I think they're very similar to each other, the men and the women working today. And it's the me generation. They talk about themselves and their reaction and observational stuff about what they've noticed in life and everything. They're at their best when there's a gang of them bantering away on Have I got news for you, or the news crews on the radio, or would I lie to you, and I'd love it when they're all just bantering away at each other, rather than doing an act to stand up. And you can see the real inventiveness and talent of this generation talking about politics, topical events, or whatever. However, I've always gone with the flow I've had no, I hope I've had no prejudice about all these young ones. Because I remember how I was treated with heavyweight comedians, Ted Ray Arthur ASCII Tommy trender. Great Max Miller. The I wasn't this. I could been working with David Foster anything they treated me as a mate, and I hope aren't the same with young young people now. And the writers years ago, Frank Muir and Denis Norden. I'm still in touch with Denis, Ray golden and Alan Simpson. Oh, I can't believe I'm meeting them. They just treated you as a mate, another writer. I never forgot that. I thought I Oh, probably going to be all right and be the same. And I'm old and I hope I am. Other people are the judge of that.

Derek Threadgall  17:14  
Well, with the new crop that seems to be more, shall we say? risky stuff. With stand ups. Yes. I mean, I'm not. I accept what you say about the gang. But the individuals that are tuned into risky stuff there is that really what is going on today.

Unknown Speaker  17:45  
Two friends of mine as I speak now. Sold Jasper Carrott, doing a show the other night and just vowden been doing gigs of shows for quite a while. And they said he made a rather shrewd observation. You don't have to bleep this because I want to say it. Justice had the audience. I could say that F word all night tonight. And get away with it. He said it's topics you have to be careful with now. There are people out there ready to be offended. They'll just waiting for something to be offended about. So that is the difference now topics.

Derek Threadgall  18:22  
I think you're right there because there is so many complaints from as you're saying people out there just waiting, sitting waiting to be offended.

Unknown Speaker  18:32  
Yes, or whatever. Yeah, there's a story recently in the paper has nothing to do with our business. But some of you may have heard about it. A woman was in a crowded lift. And they asked a man in the crowded lift what floor he wanted and he said lead is luxury. And He Himself said a lame joke or reference back to our you're being served a television show. And this woman publicly protested about one line in a crowded lift a mild little joke, I thought that a much better thing that she should be protesting about. And they're out there. They're professional protests ease.

Derek Threadgall  19:13  
Also councils and people they complained complained to they will act on just one complaint.

Unknown Speaker  19:25  
i Oh, yeah. We are been doing the radio show. Sorry. I haven't a clue for some years, happily. And we've got a great producer John Naismith, the best one we've ever had. And he digs his heels in and once or twice jokes about our score or Samantha, which are euphemisms and double entendres and everything. And you're seriously told we've had a complaint? Not We've had complaints, plural. And Shawn, just six What is this? So he went to see somebody In response, we've had a complaint. And he took with him, Emma Daryl, a friend of ours, an agent, and Jack D, the star of our show. And a woman waiting to meet him owned up later. She went on No, he's he's brought his woman friend with him and thinks it's all very funny. And the star of his show, and they backed off.

Derek Threadgall  20:25  
Well, there was one recently. I don't Well, you saw it in the paper. The Maypole? You see that? Yeah. And one complaint. And they had they took it down, the council took it down, because the complaint was that people will be dancing around that maple in front of a listed property. What the connection is there?

Unknown Speaker  20:55  
I don't Yeah, governments are mentioned that when you get to a complaint about a maypole round which people have been dancing for years, and the maypole is taken down by the council, because it was blocking the view of a listed building behind it. What are the priorities that you take down a maypole? Real life, as Tom Lehrer said, when Henry Kissinger got the Nobel Peace Prize, satire is dead. Real love keeps coming up with things that if you invented them people say now that would never happen. And it's a joy and a deep worry as well have funny and ridiculous life can be.

Derek Threadgall  21:39  
Well, I follow Richard little stuff he comes out with unbelievable. You just think what is up with these people? Yeah. Anything is just one complaint.

Unknown Speaker  21:57  
Rich, a little John. Story. Do you want that? We did a benefit years ago for Jack Tinker the critic who we all light. Jack used to make sure there's in bars and everything and right and very constructive. Criticism suggests that if he didn't like a show or something, he was disappointed because these people are very good. We all like we did a big benefit show. And I shared a dressing room on this particular afternoon with Richard Littlejohn, who writes the Daily Mail. Brian Conley was on the show. And he was currently playing Al Jolson. And I was sort of marbles from a call Elizabeth Welsh, who'd been a big star. And we installed her in a box and I introduced her to the audience. That was lovely. And in the first half of the show, Brian Conley told us a pocketful or two story about Al Jolson singing, California, here I come. And there was a couple out it in a box at the performance. So he got the laugh on that. Richard, as in Little John wasn't listening. He went on to the second half and told the same story. A couple in a box, so on, he then gestured at the lovely lizards, Welsh and said, Well, there's no danger of that happening this afternoon.

Derek Threadgall  23:29  
It's a lot of this stuff is off the cuff, isn't it? The situation is, yeah. People are there.

Unknown Speaker  23:39  
Yes. What I love and still doing stuff at my age live is best. I love doing live gigs. And I'm enjoying this. I love to be there in front of real people. You can't edit it. You can't cut it. Something goes wrong, cope with it. I was doing a show in Edinburgh a year or so ago wearing light trousers. And just before I went on the stage, I spilled a cup of tea. You can guess where I spelt it. So an older man goes on the stage the large stain in a certain area of his trousers. Now I didn't put my hands across my legs or anything. I told the audience I said spotted this on an old man's trousers, cup of tea. You can believe that or not happens to be the truth. Then they relaxed condom. They just say no. He told us no problem. I love that.

Derek Threadgall  24:36  
Yeah, it's good. It's good. Because a lot of his observation, isn't it? Yeah. I mean, who are the comedians? I heard on several occasions, saying it's observing people for what they were doing. People watching Yeah, because you see the most amazing things.

Unknown Speaker  24:56  
Yeah. And involving people. I heard about a calm And he was in the earliest stages of his act and a man very differently, trying to look inconspicuous, slunk out to go to the gents. And the comic did some remark like is this a sponsored walk? Hahaha And the man went out the door. And the comics banking on the fact he's gone to Gen Z is going to be coming back. And the comics had to see your audience. When he comes back in give him a standing ovation. And they said it was this poor man walk through the door of the whole audit. Wow. That's the sort of thing I love. It is an tamo Connor story. Oh, failures funny. Later, success isn't funny. But we all short stories about what happened one night when we died as we say, and Tom tell us a story. He was in the club and nothing was working. Every job was laying an egg. He was sweating. You felt humiliated? You want to get off? And he told one joke. And at the back of the club he heard very sarcastic leads that Thank you, sir. And the man said I was smacking the sauce bottle

Derek Threadgall  26:19  
What about the move towards in comedy? Political Correctness things that you can't say or do? We which doesn't make sense?

Unknown Speaker  26:33  
I think the great old shows should be left in that time capsule. Don't remake them and reboot them till death us do part. With Warren Michalis ALF Garnett was superb because alpha was a bigot. He was homophobic and xenophobic, misogynist, and he was an absolute monster but a great comedy creation. And they remade it was a very good article Simon D. But they must have looked at the old scripts and God can't do that. Can't do that. So what you've got, as I remember was alphas ranting about women for half an hour for no apparent reason. They were of its time. Warren Mitchell, who was my mate said they were horrified with the fan made it needed saying how often they gots it. No, it's another leave them there in their time these great shows because now people say you can't be caught say that. That's racist. And that's. That was the great, Joe. You were meant to mock this man. He was a fool. A bigot.

Derek Threadgall  27:48  
Yeah, he was. And I think the remakes they're doing a lot of shows. Now. They're just clean. There's no, there's no, there's no real humour in these shows now, because the big stuff has been cut out. Yes. Yeah. And

Unknown Speaker  28:10  
there was a wonderful moment Warren, who was Jewish, played off Garnet. And he said to his mate, Johnny Speight, who wrote it, he said, alpha would be anti semitic. Johnny had never written that because his mate warm was Jewish. So he did. And Warren said it was gorgeous. We did one where they discovered the family name wasn't originally Garnet. It was diamond, and he had Jewish blood. I am not Jewish. And he said I ranted away for about two or three pages. And then Danny Nicholas's wife said, Do you want this bacon sandwich and hot now somebody would complain about that. Now, of course, they would be less anti semitic. Yes, that is the whole point. I was watching. As I was watching, rising damp the show where Rigsby the landlord is delighted to know that Mr. Smith has applied for a room who is apparently very smart and got short sensible hair. ons like Richard Beckinsale was there with a mother tongue long hair, and it was played by Don Warrington Mr. Smith, who was black and rich, we can't cope. But there was no overt racism in the dialogue just very funny with Richie Tronic cope with this uneasy situation of well, I'm welcoming this man and he's rather classy man, but I can't cope with the fact the black never said in so many words but you knew is wrestling with it. But it wasn't overt racism. It was brilliantly written by Eric Chappell. And no, you couldn't do that now.

Derek Threadgall  29:53  
Well, I first came across feminism I was in Oxford Street. And I was going through door door and John Lewis, and are being brought up to look behind me to see if anyone's coming through. So I look at this woman came, so I held the door. As she went through, she said, Don't you patronise me? And I thought,

Unknown Speaker  30:26  
now I've got an exact parallel. Do you want me just tell me and I'll quote you, Oh, well. These moments in life, I was on the tube. And a woman got on with a small child and a buggy or whatever. And I stood up and said, Have a seat. And she said, Don't patronise me. But I remained standing, and said, Please, and made us sit down. But I'll tell you that was sad. It is no exact parallel to what you said.

Derek Threadgall  31:04  
Exactly. Don't patronise me. But I used to be with the Writers Guild, a great grip, years ago, and we had a subcommittee. Jonah's chair, we used to go to the pub after our meetings, and we had on the committee, one girl, lovely girl, but she admitted in the pub, on one occasion, she admitted to being in Trafalgar Square, and why they are brought in there to support Germaine Greer. And I thought, so, yes. What can you say? Yeah, but she didn't get much work after that, because I was keeping. She was coming to every meeting. Yeah, but she didn't seem to get much work after.

Unknown Speaker  32:00  
Yeah. And the thing that happens now, is no platforming. Germaine Greer comes to mind going to speak at a university. We do not agree with her views, she must not appear. Yes, she must have Jemaine up there. She'll cope with debate the thing whether don't say, She must not appear, that's happening and that spills through into our business as well.

Derek Threadgall  32:26  
It does. Also you're getting, you're now getting groups of people like students who, as you say, someone comes to talk to them, who they don't like, yes. And they gang up. And the university or whoever gives him

Unknown Speaker  32:49  
were allegedly a democracy, a free society. Yes. Get somebody you don't like and you disagree with and talk to them. Talk about them and debate and argue with them. Don't say you must not. You're backing off. You're displaying some sort of cowardice, no, we must have done. No, very, very worrying.

Derek Threadgall  33:11  
There are sort of very nasty traits, I think, coming through society in general. And as you said, quite rightly, the comedians are looking at life observational, and when you have set columns, that we used to have the Hancock's etc, etc. They're all character driven. And jolly Speights stuff, you know, it's, but now there's some there's an aura of tension. Yes, you know, you you muscles. Say you gotta be careful what you say. Oh,

Unknown Speaker  0:00  
Great sitcoms were character based and character driven and the interaction between the characters now that that seems to be some caution in the writing, and the sitcoms, now the sitter is often very good, but I missed the calm. Amish farm, farm and warm share fun when you just laugh. As simple as that. The great Mel Brooks took a lot of flack, a lot of criticism in the producers when he did Springtime for Hitler, a beautiful Hollywood musical celebrating Hitler and the Nazis. And Mel Brooks said, you don't debate with monsters. You mock them. That's what we do. So you know, now we've got President Donald Trump Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, I mean, which is pretty alarming in terms of real life, but pretty good for people in my position, except we've run out of Trump jokes. The man's gone beyond us now.

Derek Threadgall  1:03  
Always. Good always invent?

Unknown Speaker  1:07  
Yes, we could do fake Trump stories hit back at him with fake true anecdotes.

Derek Threadgall  1:15  
So Where where are we going from here? You have you. You're not writing for people now. But you are still writing. As you say songs, etc. Yeah. Well,

Unknown Speaker  1:33  
where are we going? I have no idea. All I know is where I'm going. I'm going to lead in Brighton this weekend. And I'm still doing stuff. And I'm an old man who tells jokes and sings songs. So you know, you can't pin me down to alert the Australian to it. Political comments are really getting there. So I've got my niche now, when I work with young ones stood out in a fringe every year and geeks and aguas Hatori, who tell jokes, as if I'm invented some new radical form of comedy. You know, he tells jokes, they don't tell jokes. And I admire a lot of what they do, but they don't tell jokes. So I'm going to hold on to what I do. And people often say, dead Tommy is shown every week to this day, character driven and based on our family grew up watching it. They didn't really know what the Home Guard was. But quite early on. There's all these random funny, they used to love watching it.

Derek Threadgall  2:36  
Well, Dad's Army, of course, had some wonderful actors in those parts.

Unknown Speaker  2:42  
Yeah, originally, and this generation, I've done my research. Still love. If you see clips are more common wise or Tommy Cooper. They were never topical. They were just timeless and funny. But Eric morcom was very shrewd. We did a Christmas show one year. And Eric said, I don't want any Christmas trees reindeers and cotton wool, beards, Father Christmas and all that. I said, why not? He said we won't get to repeat. And that very Christmas show was repeated that Easter. That was Eric. Now a timeless quality, the best people who've got a timeless thing. When you got the eruption of Ben Elton who have I have to say, brilliant writer. But when Ben erupted with all his Sacha rants and all this are always everything changing and things go in cycles that came and went and all that and Eric and Ernie and Tommy Cooper, steam through that gently there was still there with an audience of a certain age maybe but it's timeless that good comedy.

Derek Threadgall  3:55  
I don't think I mentioned in the first part about more colour wise. They used to come down and summer at Captain Clacton on sea, where I was they used to come down and do a one night stand at one of the theatres. One night, that was all. And I knew one of the theatre directors down there and I said, Well, what's all this about? They only come down for one night. And he said they came down to perform in front of a live audience and to make sure that they hadn't lost the ability to entertain alive or they came down just for that.

Unknown Speaker  4:51  
Yeah. Eric And Ernie doing just one night too. But there was a reason make reassure themselves we can still do live with people not just in a TV studio with cameras and editing and all that. Now that was that was great. And Eric, of course, was very shrewd. He said, We will never on television do anything that we've done on stage live. He said, I don't want anybody walking out of one of our large shows saying, Solon do that last Sunday on telly. Eric had got the situation worked out. very shrewd.

Derek Threadgall  5:29  
I saw them when they were on the stage at the Fairfield halls in Croydon. Yeah. And that was a stage show. And it was brilliant. That I can understand why they didn't want to do this on television at the same time because they didn't they didn't repeat any of that stature.

Unknown Speaker  5:52  
There was a whole era when some very good comedians suffered from it dear Billy dainty as a friend of mine, but he said we made the mistake of going on television the first time and doing our act. That's what we're gonna do now. I've done it and you just performed other camera and given it away, then you have to go off and do a large show people say oh, he saw him the other night on telly. The the breakthrough and Eric Moore can use to quote him admiringly. Arthur, ASCII was the first star comedian on television, who turned and talk to you at home. He didn't just stand in front of a camera doing his act. And Eric said, Oh, I got that from Arthur. You've got to turn and talk to them at home. Oh, yeah. Good. People have always done it first.

Derek Threadgall  6:45  
Agreeing used to do that. Did he talk to that?

Unknown Speaker  6:47  
Yes. Yeah. At the same time. Yeah. Miranda Hart now in this generation who venerate Sarah Morgan. And I told Miranda about arthrosc. She was fascinated. You know, the lineage the heritage good people rose doing it back then. Whatever you think you've just thought of somebody go no, wait a minute. How remember

Derek Threadgall  7:10  
Arthur ASCII had, if I'm right, a young girl called Sabrina. Yes. It was dying. Some time ago. And I just tried to work out because Arthur was very short. Yes. And Sabrina was very big in all directions. Yes.

Unknown Speaker  7:32  
So when Arthur asked me to bring the land up, it was very interesting was it was a collision almost.

Derek Threadgall  7:40  
What was it they said about Sabrina and Jayne Mansfield? boobs, came through the door about 30 seconds.

Unknown Speaker  7:50  
That was a good quiz question. Sitting here. London. Wait, who opened logistic flyover? Jayne Mansfield was working over here at the time. It was a wonderful photograph of Jayne Mansfield and Seville around. Jayne Mansfield is leaning over a table surveiller and is sitting at the table and the look on Lorenz face. puts him away do you know

Derek Threadgall  8:19  
did she say I saw the same picture and but didn't so if you are in say that? She had one of Jayne Mansfield's boobs in a on a plate.

Unknown Speaker  8:32  
Who ordered this?

Derek Threadgall  8:36  
It's observational.

Unknown Speaker  8:37  
Yes. Yeah.

Derek Threadgall  8:40  
Well, I think that's been marvellous.

Unknown Speaker  8:45  
I do stray off the subject now and again,

Derek Threadgall  8:49  
observational, everything's observational. I observed.

Unknown Speaker  8:53  
Observational, I'm doing observational comedy now.

Derek Threadgall  8:59  
That's great. Is there anything else that we have the opportunity that you want to raise or

Unknown Speaker  9:06  
snow after we prompt to the new do it marvellously? I'm an empty glass. You got to pull something in. I mean, wherever we are.

Derek Threadgall  9:22  
Anyway, that's Well, thank

Unknown Speaker  9:23  
you. It's pleasure to see you too. Again.

Derek Threadgall  9:29  
What you get is a DVD for yourself and the pound and 50 pounds. 50 pounds. 50 pounds. Sorry, we have to give some money. You see we have sorry. We have to give some money. And we don't have any money. Yes, we've given to watch to give a token 50 Pence that we've actually paid Oh, I

Unknown Speaker  9:53  
know. I know this one. Don't worry. Now come on. 60 pounds. Excuse me. Close your toe into a name is 60 P I know otherwise I'm storming out 60 P I'm sorry

Derek Threadgall  10:10  
about 40

Unknown Speaker  10:13  
You're not listening 60 P Ansari I won't write an ugly scene as developed your witness to storm out yeah and not all my photographer mates I know so many photographers are to do with the old say bows give me one Will y'all go oh did Buckingham Palace 120/5 anniversary of the water arts whatever. An intimate do 200 hours. Her Majesty but Duke of Edinburgh's work in the room. And he was brilliant. And he was the guy who tapped his elbow like move on, so move on. And my main photographer was he said, Oh, give me 1000 away. And then he had to show photographs he taken to a suit from the palace, and the suit picks up this one disrespectful pathetic isn't. That was a joke, actually. Here we go again. Oh, and Duke of Edinburgh came over and said to me are we meet again? And I said, Yeah, we met last year the water apps problem grows in road. Yes, yes. I said you came. Yes, I did. Did nine years. And I said we're all ding dong in jokes all night and you stood up to speak. And you said it's like being a room in a room full of comedy incest. Did I say that? I said yes. He said very wishy for me. That's that's good. Okay. Thank you. Both. Oh, oh, tears getting up. I my old people make a noise when they get up. Oh, can

Derek Threadgall  12:06  
you turn the light on? And you can move the stand out. We'll see.



Barry Cryer (1935-2022) was a one-off Joke Machine. I had the pleasure of interviewing him on two  occasions for The British Entertainment History Project. During breaks in the interviews my cameraman, Ray Pascoe and myself were regaled with a stream of jokes from Barry. I responded with a few jokes of my own, one of which appealed to Barry who asked if he could ‘borrow’ it. Of course he could. For the record, my humble contribution referred to a terrorist who tried to blow up a car, but couldn’t get his mouth around the exhaust pipe.

All great comedians require great scriptwriters. In a career lasting more than sixty years, none was in more demand than Barry. A roll call of his ‘clients’ include Morecambe and Wise, Rory Bremner, Jasper Carrott, Tommy Cooper, Les Dawson, Dick Emery, Bob Hope, Frankie Howerd, Spike Milligan, Mike Yarwood and the Two Ronnies. Writing for such a diverse list of comedians was ‘like a tailor making suits and you had to fit them to match the clients’ he said. Although styles of humour changed over the years, his good-natured and often silly wit was timeless.

‘In my business, you don’t retire’, he once said, ‘The phone stops ringing.’ In Barry’s case, it never did. He saw himself as part of a different generation from modern stand - up comedians. ‘I tell jokes and stories. The younger performers don’t. Their comedy is observational, they talk about life and themselves,’ he noted. Yet he was a supporter of youthful talent and hosted, ‘Stand-Up’, a vehicle  for up-and-coming comics.

‘I’ve been dogged by good luck all my life.’ He cracked.

He appeared for more than forty years on the BBC Radio 4 panel game, ‘I’m Sorry, I Haven’t a Clue’, with his fellow panellists, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Willie Rushton. Barry ensured that he never dried up by working with a co-writer. Among his longest-serving collaborators were Graeme Garden and John Junkin.

Throughout his life he preferred a typewriter to a computer, where words looked “so clean and immaculate, even when they were crap”. In his private life he was a creature of habit, a man of simple tastes. His accountant once complained that his tax-allowable expenses were ‘pathetic’. He never learned to drive and always took public transport. Family holidays were taken in a camper van driven by his wife. He lived for more than half a century in a house in Hatch End, near Pinner in North London which he bought in 1967 for £10,400 on the recommendation of Ronnie Barker. He kept the same agent for forty years, Tony Hancock’s brother Roger. He was married for even longer to Terry Donovan, a former singer and dancer whom he met on the same day in 1960 as his lifelong friend, Ronnie Corbett, when all three found themselves appearing in a Danny La Rue show.

He is survived by Terry and their sons, Bob, Dave and Tony and their daughter, Jackie. When he appeared on ‘Desert Island Discs’, he nominated as his luxury, an audio tape of the voices of his wife and children. 

Barry Charles Cryer was born in 1935 in Leeds, the son of Carl Cryer, an accountant. His father died when he was five and his considerably older brother, John, joined the merchant navy, so he was in effect brought up as an only child by his mother, Jean. He won a scholarship to Leeds Grammar where he ran a racket selling unused dinner tickets. At Leeds University, he read English. Sixty years later he still remembers the joke that set him on his way. ‘A man was driving down a country lane and ran over a cockerel. He knocked on the farmhouse door and a woman answered. ‘I appear to have killed your cockerel’ he said. ’I’d like to replace it’. ‘Please yourself,’ said the woman, ‘the hens are round the back.’ 


After failing his first year exams, he took a trip to London on a seventeen day return rail ticket hoping to get a job in showbusiness. The day before the ticket ran out, he got an audition at the Windmill Theatre. He got the gig and an hour and a half later was on stage doing his routine at the bottom of a bill whose emerging star was Bruce Forsythe for whom he would later work as a script writer. Playing six shows a day, six days a week for an audience who had come to see the nudes, not the comics, it was a tough training ground. Barry’s struggles were not helped by severe eczema which saw him hospitalised on several occasions and led to him being released from his contract. After recovering from his eczema, he supplied blue gags for La Rue’s nightclub act and served as La Rue’s warm-up man.

A visitor to the club in the early 1960s was David Frost. It led to Barry’s employment on ‘The Frost Report’ where his fellow writers included John Cleese, Graham Chapman and Marty Feldman. By the 1970s Barry was, arguably, the busiest gag-writer on TV. He worked with Les Dawson and with Chapman of the Monty Python team and invented the news desk sketch for ‘The Two Ronnies’. When Morecambe and Wise were cut adrift from their regular writer, Eddie Braben, Cryer was the first name they called. He also took in his stride the surreal appetites of Kenny Everett.

As a TV performer, Barry hosted ‘Jokers Wild’ and appeared on panel shows. On radio his wonderfully daft puns were the comic ballast that kept ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue’ going even after the death of its much-loved chairman, Humphrey Lyttleton. Yet he refused to bracket himself with the comedians for whom he wrote. ‘They’ve got timing and personality, I just tell jokes’.

By the late 1980s a new breed of performers meant he was no longer quite so ubiquitous so with Willie Rushton he created a stage show, ‘’Two Old Farts in the Night’. The double act was launched at the Edinburgh Festival in 1991 and toured until Rushden’s death in 1996. In later years, Barry toured solo. He also was in demand as an after-dinner speaker which became a steady source of income. He also had an enviable fund of anecdotes about encounters with the rich and famous, from bumping into Norman Mailer in a lift to assisting Lord Longford, lost on the Bakerloo line. 

Were all his stories strictly true or did he sometimes exaggerate them for effect?

‘You do neaten them up a bit’, he admitted, ‘Real life can be so badly written’.

Derek Treadgall March 2022