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Thread: Myles Rudge RIP

  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    0 times - 30th October 2007

    Myles Rudge, who died on October 10 aged 81, wrote the words for a string of novelty songs in the 1960s, including Hole in the Ground and Right Said Fred (both 1962) and A Windmill in Old Amsterdam (1965).

    The first two were hits for the comedian Bernard Cribbins, for whom Rudge and his music-writing partner Ted Dicks had already written a previous success, Folk Song, while A Windmill in Old Amsterdam briefly revived the flagging career of the 1950s crooner Ronnie Hilton and climbed to number 23 in the hit parade. Rudge's witty lyrics helped all three numbers to define the golden age of comedy records in Britain.

    Both Hole in the Ground and Right Said Fred have stood the test of time, and still bring a smile to the faces of members of the baby boomer generation, who recall the knowing larkiness of Rudge's lyrics: There I was, a-digging this hole / A hole in the ground, so big and sort of round it was / There was I, digging it deep / It was flat at the bottom and the sides were steep / When along comes this bloke in a bowler which he lifted and scratched his head / Well he looked down the hole, poor demented soul and he said�

    Similarly, the follow-up, inspired by the thought of three removal men struggling to move a large, but unidentified, object (actually, it was Ted Dicks's piano): 'Right,' said Fred, 'Both of us together / One each end and steady as we go.' / Tried to shift it, couldn't even lift it / We was getting nowhere / And so we had a cuppa tea�

    The producer of both hits was George (later Sir George) Martin, who at the time was running the Parlophone record label. He judged both singles � complete with special sound effects � to be "terribly well-constructed, with very clever lyrics and musical arrangements".

    On Desert Island Discs No�l Coward chose Hole in the Ground as the single record he would take with him to the mythical island, explaining that he would while away the time walking on the beach translating it into French.

    Both songs passed into national popular musical folklore, while shortly thereafter George Martin started recording the Beatles.

    Myles Peter Carpenter Rudge was born in Bristol on July 8 1926, one of the two sons of a copywriting clerk. He was educated at Bristol Grammar School where, in his own words, he "continued the family tradition of being academically unremarkable".

    A classmate and friend was Peter Nicols (later the playwright who wrote A Day In The Death of Joe Egg and Privates on Parade).

    While still a schoolboy Myles had parts in radio plays for the BBC's Children's Hour, and this led to understudying at the (Bristol) Old Vic followed by rep at the Playhouse Theatre in Liverpool and later at Amersham, where "a buzz bomb exploded in the field behind my digs and the blast blew me off a lavatory seat. Only my pride was hurt, but I resented Hitler's invasion of my privacy."

    In 1944 he joined the Royal Navy, working as a clerk on Malta and in Athens before returning to England in 1947. After training at Rada, he went on to appear in rep all over the country. At Dundee he played Pip to Virginia McKenna's Estella in Great Expectations.

    Meanwhile he began writing sketches for cabaret acts by performers such as Hermione Gingold and Robert Morley.

    Ted Dicks's first sight of Rudge was from the dress circle of the Vaudeville Theatre, where he had gone to see the Julian Slade musical Salad Days. Rudge, Dicks recalled, was "the tall blond fellow in whites who came on stage clutching a tennis racquet to deliver the classic line 'Who's for tennis?'"

    But Rudge was by now feeling that his true talent was as a writer. He began scripting radio shows, and in 1960 the producer Charles Ross commissioned him and Dicks to write a show for Anna Deere Wyman, And Another Thing, which toured Britain before establishing itself at the Fortune Theatre.

    The star was Bernard Cribbins, and the song they wrote for him (Folk Song) caught the attention of George Martin. It also sold well, and led to the duo's writing a series of songs for Cribbins, among them Hole in the Ground and Right Said Fred.

    During this period Rudge wrote lyrics for a succession of artists, including Topol, Joan Sims and Jim Dale; there was also a ballad for Matt Munro and a Christmas song for Petula Clark.

    Rudge's was a gentle wit, never over-sentimental, and he had the rare ability to appeal to children. A song he and Dicks wrote for Val Doonican, Annabelle, includes the lines: And sometimes to make herself laugh / She counts up to five and a half / Which is one of the world's most astonishing tricks / It's a bit more than five and a bit less than six. Rudge wrote the lyrics for A Windmill in Old Amsterdam � about a mouse wearing clogs � in a single day.

    After their chart successes with Bernard Cribbins, Rudge and Dicks later worked on an album for the comedian Kenneth Williams called On Pleasure Bent.

    Myles Rudge scripted television shows for, among others, Peter Ustinov, Lulu, Harry Secombe and Hermione Gingold; he also wrote episodes for sit-coms and children's programmes.

    Between 1972 and 1992 he wrote eight pantomimes and eight children's shows for the Glasgow Citizens' Theatre. He would devote much of his time at the Christmas season to counselling on behalf of the Samaritans.

    He was unmarried

  2. #2
    Senior Member Country: Scotland julian_craster's Avatar
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    Obituary The Guardian

    Myles Rudge

    Actor and playwright, he wrote West End revues and

    comedy hit records

    Dave Laing

    Monday November 5, 2007

    Right Said Fred and Hole in the Ground, sung by Bernard Cribbins and

    produced by George Martin, were memorable comedy hit records of the early

    1960s. The author of the lyrics was the actor, scriptwriter and playwright

    Myles Rudge, who has died aged 81.

    Rudge was born into a middle-class family in Bristol, and attended Bristol

    grammar school. In 1944 he was called up to serve in the Royal Navy. After

    tours of duty in Greece and Malta, Rudge was demobbed in 1947. At school he

    had been an enthusiastic actor (one of his classmates was the future

    playwright Peter Nichols), and he went on to study at Rada in London.

    The early 1950s found Rudge acting in repertory in various parts of England

    and Scotland, where he starred in a Dundee production of Great Expectations

    with Virginia McKenna. The peak of his stage career was probably Julian

    Slade's musical Salad Days, in which Rudge was called upon to ask the

    immortal, and often derided, question: "Anyone for tennis?"

    By this time, he had begun to write comedy scripts, some of which were

    accepted by radio producers or by performers such as Robert Morley and

    Hermione Gingold. The turning point in Rudge's career came when he teamed up

    in the late 1950s with a young composer called Ted Dicks. Rudge and Dicks

    submitted material for the then thriving revue genre, shows that mixed witty

    sketches with comic songs. In 1960, they created And Another Thing, a revue

    featuring Anna Quayle, Lionel and Joyce Blair, and Cribbins.

    Martin, whose Parlophone label already featured the Goons and Peter Sellers,

    saw the show and decided to record Cribbins's satirical number Folk Song.

    Released as a single, it enjoyed enough success for Dicks and Rudge to be

    asked to provide new material for Cribbins's next discs. Their first effort

    was Hole in the Ground, which became a Top Ten hit early in 1962. It

    introduced the persona of the chirpy workman, irked by the bowler-hatted

    bureaucrat who supervised his excavations, to the extent that, by the end of

    the song, the hole had been filled in and "beneath it is the bloke in the

    bowler hat - and that's that!"

    Later in 1962, Cribbins was back in the Top Ten with Right Said Fred, the

    tale of an impossible task for a trio of removal men. Rudge's lyrics left

    the nature of the object to be moved unclear, although the song was inspired

    by the delivery of a piano to Dicks. It captured the cadences of vernacular

    speech, in such asides as the phlegmatic narrator's "but it did no good -

    well I never thought it would". Both songs have had an enduring popularity,

    partly though children's radio shows, while a 1990s pop group led by Fred

    Fairbrass chose Right Said Fred as its name.

    In 2004, the playwright and journalist Philip Glassborow narrated a BBC

    radio documentary that brought together Cribbins, Martin, Dicks and Rudge.

    Martin praised the songs for their "very clever lyrics and quirky melodies,

    which hung together so neatly, leaving plenty of space for us to create a

    sound picture. All we had to do was add the right sound effects and musical


    Dicks and Rudge were now in demand as pop songwriters. Their only subsequent

    hit was A Windmill in Old Amsterdam, about a mouse wearing clogs, in 1965

    for Ronnie Hilton, but their songs were recorded by the actors Topol, Jim

    Dale and Joan Sims, and by Petula Clark. In 1967, the duo also created an

    album of songs for Kenneth Williams, On Pleasure Bent, although Rudge's

    lyrics were less camp than that title suggests.

    In later years, he wrote book and lyrics for pantomimes and Christmas shows

    directed by Giles Havergal at Glasgow Citizens Theatre. He was also a

    volunteer for the Samaritans.

    � Myles Peter Carpenter Rudge, actor, playwright and songwriter, born July 8

    1926; died October 10 2007

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