1 9 7 9 – 1 9 8 4 (UK)
28 x 45 minute episodes
Sheffield lass Marti Caine was really that old-fashioned phenomenon a musical comedy actress. She seemed ill at ease with her stand-up gags (her timing was not always good) and the sketches were simply unfunny in her BBC series.
Only when she sang did she visibly relax and show the artistry and charisma that contributed to her relatively swift success.
Given a strong hook and lyrics to lean on she could allow her undoubted comic talents to blossom without giving the impression that she was uneasy about her material (the slightly haunted look, the too permanent, too fixed smile).
She could time a song beautifully (her duets with Barbara Dickson and the charming old-fashioned ballad singer Peter Skellern were models of what such things should be) and her personality was always appealing. And she certainly worked hard.
Her guests over five series included Diana Dors, Gene Pitney, Spike Milligan, Michael Parkinson, Roy Castle, The Shadows, The Four Tops, Showaddywaddy, The Nolans, Bucks Fizz, Leo Sayer, Kiki Dee, Billy Preston and Labi Siffre.
From 1984 to 1986, Marti starred in the BBC sitcom Hilary, which was written specifically for her.
Sadly, Marti developed lymphatic cancer and died in 1995 at High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. She was just 50.
The 2017 film Funny Cow – starring Maxine Peake as a troubled northern comedienne – was inspired by Caine’s life.