1 9 5 2 (UK)
3 x 60 minute episodes
1 9 5 5 (UK)
2 x 60 minute episodes
1 9 5 7 (UK)
1 x 60 minute episode
Fresh from a triumphant tour of the Far East, Frankie Howerd returned home and was offered his TV debut in a series called The Howerd Crowd, which debuted on 12 January 1952.
The first series of three shows was written by Eric Sykes and produced by Bill Lyon-Shaw and also starred the Beverley Sisters.
The three 60 minute shows were shown monthly from January to March 1952, with two more shows going out under the same title in 1955.
A one-off special was made for the BBC’s rival ATV network in 1957 (Frankie’s first show for commercial television).
The BBC at this time had still not found a successful format for TV comedy and when Frankie insisted on trying out new ideas, including the provision of his own cameraman who was instructed to keep track of Frankie throughout the show, they were more than happy to accommodate him.
The first show was greeted very warmly by the critics even though it didn’t meet with the star’s approval: “I looked like a pasty-faced village idiot who needed a set of false teeth”, Frankie noted of that first TV performance.
Later still, in his autobiography, he became even more dismissive of the show when he stated; “all I remember of it was that it contained a sketch poking fun at the trendy TV cooks of the day.
But Frankie Howerd – born in York and raised in Eltham – was a natural for television and became a familiar face on TV throughout the 1950s with numerous specials written by Sykes, Spike Milligan and Johnny Speight.