1 9 5 6 (UK)
3 x 60 minute episodes
Born in London in extreme poverty in 1915, Norman Joseph Wisdom endured a period in a children’s home before running away from home when he was 14, getting a job as an errand boy earning 8 shillings a week. Eventually finding himself homeless and reduced to scrounging food, he walked from London to Cardiff to get a job as a cabin boy on a tramp steamer.
Finally, he enlisted in the British Army and was sent to India with the 10th Hussars as a drummer boy. While in the army, he learned to box (he was the flyweight and bantamweight boxing champion of the 10th Hussars at 18), and it was during WWII that his stage career took off and he joined a regimental concert party.
When he was demobbed he began working at the famous old Collins Music Hall in London and from there he went to tour provincial music halls, living in a caravan. His career changed with a variety engagement in 1948 at the London Casino, where his “little man lost” routine was acclaimed as one of the best comedy acts in years.
His biggest break came in 1953 when he signed a film-a-year contract with the Rank Organisation. His first starring role in Trouble In Store (1953) broke box office records and won him a British Film Academy Award.
He followed this success with One Good Turn (1954), Man of the Moment (1955), Up in the World (1956), Just My Luck (1957), The Square Peg (1958), Follow a Star (1959), There Was a Crooked Man (1960), The Bulldog Breed, (1960) The Girl on the Boat (1960), On The Beat, (1962) and A Stitch in Time (1963). Nearly every film ended up in the top ten box office releases of the year it was released.
Established as a film star, Norman took his “little man” character to television.
In 1956, the BBC presented three hour-long Norman Wisdom Show variety shows under their ‘Saturday Comedy Hour’ banner starring Norman with Marion Keene, Eddie Leslie and the George Mitchell Singers.
Despite scores of television appearances (mainly as a guest on variety shows), Wisdom later starred in only three television series: Norman (1970) – his first TV sitcom, Nobody is Norman Wisdom (1973) and A Little Bit of Wisdom (1976).