1 9 7 1 – 1 9 7 9 (UK)
26 x 45 minute episodes
6 x 50 minute episodes
1 x 35 minute episode
Dublin-born comedian Dave Allen (real name David Tynan O’Mahony) sits on a stool, smoking a cigarette and taking regular swigs from a glass of whisky while telling risqué jokes about the pope, the Catholic church and sex (sometimes all three in one joke). Between the monologues, he appears in a stream of quick-fire sketches.
His first series, Tonight With Dave Allen for ATV began in 1967 and ended in 1969 after 31 episodes.
There were five episodes of The Dave Allen Show for BBC1 (1968 – 1969) and he then worked his way through Dave Allen At Large (five series) and two series’ simply entitled Dave Allen – one for the BBC (1981 – 1990) and one for ITV (1993 – 1994).
He had a repertory of actors who appeared in sketches with him, such as Michael Sharvell-Martin, Ronnie Brody and Jacqueline Clarke.
A former journalist in Ireland and Butlin’s Redcoat at Skegness, Allen is famous for his nine and a half digits, having lost the tip of one finger in a car accident.
He first made his name on The Val Doonican Show from 1965 where his quirky jokes came as a blessed relief from the Celtic crooner’s rendering of Paddy McGinty’s Goat and Rafferty’s Motor Car. And he didn’t have Val’s taste in naff knitwear either.
He proved so popular that he was given his own show.
In 1971, he starred in The Dave Allen Show on Australian TV with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. On one show they discussed the merits of masturbation, as a result of which the three were yanked off (if you’ll pardon the pun) Australian screens. The ban was intended to be for life but was soon rescinded
In Britain, he drew complaints about tackling incest and about his confessional box jokes but maintained that he got more letters over scratching his head too much or tugging at his earlobe.
Apart from commenting sharply on religion, Allen’s monologues dug mercilessly at sexual mores. Unlike many American and British comics who took swings at similar targets, Allen was much more incisive, far more perceptive, and also contrived to make his attacks without recourse to vulgarity.
But in 1990 he used “the F word” on the show, prompting the BBC to issue a public apology and MPs to ask questions about him in the House of Commons.
The intensely private Irishman made occasional guest appearances on chat shows but grew to prefer the quiet life and shunned the spotlight whenever he could.
The comedian who used to consume up to 80 cigarettes a day, quit smoking and cut down on his drinking after a health scare several years ago. A keen painter, his first exhibition, “Private Views”, was held in Edinburgh in 2001.
Dave Allen died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Kensington, London, in 2005 at the age of 68. He was survived by Karin Tynan O’Mahony (née Stark), his wife of eighteen months but who had been his partner since 1986, and his three children from his first marriage to actress Judith Stott.
“May your God go with you . . .”