January 2, 2017


Arthur Askey (1900-1982) b. Liverpool, England.

Arthur Askey

The diminutive British comedian with a treasure-chest full of catch-phrases started his working life as a clerk with the Liverpool education Committee, and never quite lost the regional accent that penetrated his light speaking voice. His facility for making people laugh soon led him to the world of concert parties and piers and he had become a top seaside entertainer by 1926. He also enjoyed playing pantomime dames, an activity he kept up till the very end of his career.

National fame came in January 1938 with the first broadcast of Band Waggon, the first British radio comedy show to present its stars in situations, rather than as stand-up comics. Films had to follow, inevitably beginning with Band Waggon (1940), although it had little to do with the original show, and continuing through the war years. Askey’s characters in them were characterised by playfulness and an inability to leave things alone, as when he scrambles the BBC pips in Back-Room Boy (1942).

The standard of Askey’s films, however, dropped away quite quickly, and he was understandably so disappointed with the last, Bees in Paradise (1944), that he made no more films for a decade, returning to stage and radio. A film version of his stage success The Love Match (1955) brought Askey back to films and a few more ramshackle movie vehicles followed.

blog comments powered by Disqus