1 9 6 3 – 1 9 8 1 (UK)
166 x 30 minute episodes
Former driving instructor Dick Emery excelled as a comic master of impersonations in what became the BBC’s longest-running sketch show.
His mimicry produced such characters as Gaylord the delinquent bovver boy; Old Lampwick; The bucktoothed vicar; sex-starved Hettie, the frustrated spinster (“Excuse me, Madam”, “It’s Miss!”); College the upper-class tramp; Farmer Finch; the wily Mr Crump; and the ultimate street-interview subjects, Mandy the dumb blonde (who always misunderstood the street interviewer and read sexual innuendo into every innocent sentence), the even dumber Hells Angel and the outrageously camp Clarence, with his catchphrase, “Hello Honky Tonks”.
Emery worked with an array of comic foils over the years, notably Joan Sims, June Whitfield, Pat Coombs and Roy Kinnear, who played the crooked father to Emery’s dim bovver boy, Gaylord (“Dad, I’ve got it wrong again.”)
“Ooh, you are awful . . . but I like you!” (voiced by the aforementioned Mandy) was Emery’s most famous catchphrase, and in 1972, Dick Emery starred in a movie called (oddly enough) Ooh, You Are Awful. After cheating the Mafia out of a fortune, conman Emery trusts his partner to stash the loot in a Swiss bank.
As the number of the account is tattooed on the rear of one of his girlfriends, a cheeky undercover operation begins.
The “bottom” line is to photograph the evidence for posterity or he’ll make a complete arse of himself (sorry, I was getting into the spirit of it all there). Dick Emery trots out all his famous impersonations.
Dick Emery’s holiday specials, The Dick Emery Christmas Show, were also extremely popular. They aired on Christmas Eve 1972, Christmas Eve 1977 and 27 December 1980.
Richard Gilbert Emery was born on 19 February 1917 at the University College Hospital in St.Pancras, London. His parents were a double-act known as Callan and Emery. They performed around Britain at music halls throughout much of Dick’s childhood, depriving him of a formal education.
His parents divorced in 1926 and Dick went to live with his mother who realised that her son had inherited a talent for entertaining and insisted that he perform whenever possible.
During WWII, Dick joined Ralph Reader’s Gang Show and entertained troops, and, in 1948, he appeared at London’s famous Windmill Theatre – around the same time as another new and unknown comedian, Tony Hancock.
He began appearing on radio and television in the 1950s, and his face soon became well known to the viewing public.
By 1960 he was playing Private ‘Chubby’ Catchpole in the popular comedy series The Army Game.
In 1963 the BBC offered Dick his own TV series and he quickly established himself as a class act.
In 1979, following fifteen successful years with the BBC, Emery decided to switch channels to Thames for The Dick Emery Comedy Hour.
There were two more comedy specials for ITV before Emery returned to the BBC in 1982 for two series of comedy thrillers (Emery Presents) in which he played Bernie Weinstock, the boss of a private detective agency.
Later in his life, Emery was plagued with ill health and bouts of depression with periods of insecurity, and before the second series of Emery Presents could be shown, he passed away on 2 January 1983 at King’s College Hospital, London. He was aged 67.
The second series, which was due to air on 13 January, was held over until later in the year.