1 9 7 6 (UK)
1 x 60 minute episode
Hughie Green, who had presented shows on television since 1956 – including quiz shows Double Your Money and The Sky’s The Limit and the long-running talent show Opportunity Knocks – proved his own versatility by impersonating eight characters in this one-off variety show from Thames Television, transforming himself from a panto-loving schoolboy to Valentino, a Keystone Kop and many others.
The show – which aired on Wednesday 28 April 1976 at 8.00 pm – was set in a fictional music hall and cinema, which eventually became a bingo hall. Hughie was supported by Beryl Reid, Bernard Bresslaw, Pat Coombs and former Miss World, Eva Rueber-Staier.
There were moments when viewers said, “is there nothing this man cannot do?” and there were moments when they said, “yes there is!”.
The highlight was a splendid silent film with superb subtitles (one said “Bang!”) with Hughie being seduced by a dark vamp (Rueber-Staier) who could well have been the younger sister of Cleopatra heavily made up as Elizabeth Taylor but whose broad, sensuous lips mother her identity, followed by a caption which read “I am Florence of Arabia”.
All this to a piano accompaniment (played by you-know-Hughie) so eloquent you just knew that Schopenhauer had got it wrong and that all of life was but a rich pattern of diminished sevenths and left-hand tremeloes.
The show was without shape or form, it was too long, and most viewers never thought they’d see the day that Hughie Green did a serious impression of Al Jolson. Or witness a sketch about an 80-year-old Major (Major Green) with an ending which could have so effortlessly been worked into a commercial for the British Sugar Corporation.
But it didn’t matter. The mans infectious ebullience and obvious zest for living made up for everything!