A Tale of Two Harrys

I was listening to a radio biography of Harry Worth on the way home (ripped from the excellent BBC7) and I have to say I had forgotten how much I enjoyed his tv shows that I watched as a kid. It also shattered my illusion that he was a southern middle-class type when in fact he was born Harry Illingworth, the son of a Barnsley miner and had worked down the pit himself.

What I also didn’t know was that the famous shop window scene in the opening sequence above was shot in St Ann’s Square in Manchester which at the time was pretty much comedy central as far as tv was concerned. (That’s Manchester, not St Ann’s Square.)

But the thing that really struck me was that it was like listening to Harry Hill. Same bumbling persona, same off the wall material, even the same glasses almost. Worth’s lovechild surely. Here’s my paraphrasing of one of Harry Senior’s routines that I can imagine Harry Junior doing today.

“Now you’re probably wondering why I’m wearing this piece of string round my finger. That’s what you’ll be asking yourself if you talk to yourself, and if you do talk to yourself, don’t be ashamed.

“I talk to myself all the time. It’s dull, but I listen.

“The reason I wear this piece of string is to remind me to take this handkerchief from my pocket. Then you’ll notice that the handkerchief has a knot tied in it. Why has it got a knot tied in it you ask yourself.

“That’s to remind me to take this card out of pocket and on the back of the card it says, remember to tie a piece of string to your finger.”

Okay, so you had to be there.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

16 comments… Add yours
  • garroo 24th August 2005

    Harry Worth was the spit of my Geography teacher. I can just about remember him from the TV, but only through the window-arm-leg sequence. Perhaps it will become cool at some point to be 'into' Harry Worth and he will be sprung from undeserved obscurity.

    Reply
  • Shooting Parrots 24th August 2005

    Yes, the presenter bemoaned the fact that none of Harry's radio progrs have resurfaced on BBC 7 or indeed on tv. Maybe we should start a petition.

    Reply
  • krip 24th August 2005

    And didn't us kids all try to copy the shop window scene. Woolworths had the best window for it.
    Another faded star – Dick Emery. Ooh you are awful…..

    Reply
  • Shooting Parrots 24th August 2005

    Hi Krip,
    Well, no I didn't and neither did Worth. When he read the script, he didn't understand it until the scriptwriter exokained it.

    Cheers

    Reply
  • krip 24th August 2005

    Exokained????

    Reply
  • Shooting Parrots 25th August 2005

    Hi Krip,
    Touch-typing in poor light. I just can't hack it ;0)

    Reply
  • Steve 25th August 2005

    Harry Worth eeeehhh that teks me back. I'd like to see him resurrected. Him and the old Eric Sykes/Hatty Jacques stuff.

    Reply
  • Blognor Regis 26th August 2005

    Dick Emery is now thankfully outlawed under the Geneva Convention as cruel and unusual punishment. The comedian of the same name crops up on UKGold now and again. I want to like him but it seems a bit one trick ponyish from this distance, "ooh you are awful" and that's about it.

    SP, does your car CD play MP3s as some do these days? Otherwise does your ripping software manage to take the real player stream and turn it into "proper" CD type audio? If it's the former then I'm buggered.

    Also, that lost episode of Hancock has been aired on BBC7. It's on their archive 'till next Tuesday.

    Reply
  • Shooting Parrots 26th August 2005

    Mike, I with you on Eric Sykes, one of the great comedy geniuses.

    Mark, no I knew took to Dick Emery. There was something faintly disturbing of seeing a bloke teeter about in high heels.

    My car CD plays ordinary audio CDs. I use Replay Radio which will save recordings as both MP3 and WAV files and burn them to CD. You can buy it individually or as a bundle for less than 30 quid.

    Reply
  • Blognor Regis 26th August 2005

    I'll certainly be checking that Replay Radio out SP.

    The publication date for Eric Sykes' autobiography draws ever nearer. October 3, 2005. But if we're relying on that flipping cookoo clock to tell us the time we might be in for an even longer wait. "Eric, that's no way to talk about Peter."

    Sykes and Denis Norden are quite probably the only surviving post war comedy lynchpins still with us.

    Reply
  • Shooting Parrots 26th August 2005

    Dennis Norden, blimey, yes! Did you catch his bio on BBC 7? Loved his time at the Windmill.

    Reply
  • Blognor Regis 27th August 2005

    No I didn't. Seems I missed a stack of good stuff on BBC4 and BBC7 over the summer.

    Ought to follow The Lemonheads' maxim:

    I can’t go away with you on a rock climbing weekend
    What if something's on tv and it’s never shown again

    Didn't everybody work at the Windmill in their time? Filling in between the birds. A bad gig but a gig none-the-less.

    Don't really know much about his and Frank Muir's work at all. I guess they've done stuff that I've heard of without being aware that they did it.

    I do know that they and Bob Monkhouse pretty much had comedy writing sewn up between them in the immediate post war years.

    When Frankie Howerd became a big star on the most popular light entertainment radio show of the mid 40's, Variety Bandbox, he found himself churning through material faster than he could create it. He'd remembered Eric Sykes from a gang show in Germany and commissioned him to write for him. Sykes hadn't written before, he was a performer, or at least he thought he was, but he said yes anyway and a writing career was born.

    Later Sykes and partner Spike Milligan decided they didn't want to go in with Norden and Muir or Monkhouse so they set up Associated London Scripts. I guess this gave them independence and meant that they could keep more of their earnings. From the off they took Galton & Simpson on to their books and later they took on Johnny Speight. They must have been good to work for as even their secretary Beryl Vertue, who'd been an old friend Alan Simpson, went on to become a pivotal producer of comedy (and Tommy).

    I seem to have digressed there.

    Just found this Radio Days site. I need to actually hear some of these shows rather than just learn about them!

    Reply
  • Shooting Parrots 27th August 2005

    That's a good site. You'll find my Whirligig link over on the right.

    Reply
  • Roy 10th September 2005

    Keep watching this space. Harry Worth biography due out soon

    Reply
  • Anonymous 13th January 2006

    Harry's biography is now out.
    Details are on http://www.harryworth.info
    Roy

    Reply
  • Anonymous 22nd November 2009

    Who knows where to download XRumer 5.0 Palladium?
    Help, please. All recommend this program to effectively advertise on the Internet, this is the best program!

    Reply

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