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A Celebration of the Comedy underdog

A Celebration of the Comedy Underdog
Foreword by Terry Jones

Do you remember growing up in the 1970s? Dick Emery was the most famous comedian on British television. His shows would attract millions of viewers. His outrageous gallery of grotesques were played out in a thousand school playgrounds. "Ooh, you are awful!" we would say. Now, where are his shows? Never repeated. Rarely discussed in all those clip-stuffed nostalgia fests on television. A forgotten hero of comedy.

What about Larry Semon? You've never even heard of him, have you? In the Hollywood of the 1920s he was one of the kings of comedy. Both Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy *supported* Larry on film. He directed, produced and starred as the Scarecrow in the original film version of 'The Wizard of Oz'. Dead before he was forty, today he hardly gets a footnote in comedy history.

How about little Jimmy Clitheroe? The Clitheroe Kid. He was one of the most popular characters on radio and television. He even appeared as General Tom Thumb opposite Burl Ives and Terry-Thomas in 'Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon'. Really! He was still playing a schoolboy well in to his forties. Jimmy's catchphrase was: "Don't some Mothers have 'em!" Now that sounds familiar! But who gives Jimmy the nod of recognition. No~one.

Until now…

In this long over-due and affectionate salute, celebrated comedy historian Robert Ross pays tribute to some of the finest, funniest and most fascinating names in comedy – from both sides of the Atlantic. With the passionate input of such favourite comics as Tim Brooke-Taylor, Hattie Hayridge, Roy Hudd, Michael Palin, Ross Noble, Chris Addison and Bernard Cribbins..., Ross will pay long over-due tribute to legends of humour who, for a variety of reasons, didn't quite reach the heady heights of stardom or, once they had, couldn't cope with the pressures. Whether it be personal demons, changing trends in comedy or a rival act undermining their fame, the ups and downs of the Forgotten Heroes of Comedy will make for fascinating reading.

Presented in alphabetical order for ease of reference and to give a scattered through the ages feel it will be illustrated throughout with a lavish collection of rare film stills and original theatre posters. The book will be the ultimate talking point in pubs and offices and living rooms across the country. I bet he hasn't included the forgotten member of The Three Stooges. That Shemp Howard who reluctantly gave up a profitable career as Hollywood's busiest character actor to join his brother Moe in the team. Oh. Yes. Yes, he has! So whether it is a favourite from the distant smoke and ale-stained world of the Music Hall like the great George Robey – the man dubbed The Prime Minster of Mirth decades before John Major – or the down-beat poetry of Hovis Presley who dropped disenchanted bombs on the late 1990s, the Forgotten Heroes of Comedy will finally elevate them to the Hall of Fame where they belong. Forgotten, no longer.

With an introductory piece by that very much remembered and influential comedy hero, Monty Python pioneer Terry Jones, this book will enthral and enlighten the most die-hard of comedy admirers.

The book will profile such comedians as...

Ronald Frankau, Arthur Haynes, Wee Georgie Wood, Charlie Drake, Dustin Gee, Sonnie Hale, Ray Martine, Richard Hearne: 'Mr Pastry', Wheeler & Woolsey, Jewel & Warris, Bernie Winters, Dickie Henderson, Hal Walters, John Junkin, Frank Randle, Sir George Robey: 'The Prime Minister of Mirth', Danny Ross, Robert Moreton, Nat Jackley, Ted Lune, Florence Desmond, Eric Barker, Alfie Bass, Bill Fraser, David Battley, Peter Butterworth, Charley Chase, Mel Blanc, Billy Danvers, Jerry Colonna, Leslie Fuller, Tommy Handley, Bobby Howes, Claude Hulbert, Ernie Kovacs, Lupino Lane, Bunny Doyle: 'The Minister for Idiotic Affairs', Tom Walls, Roy Kinnear, Spike Jones, Zeppo Marx, Una Merkel, George Williams, Derek Royle, Wilson, Keppel & Betty, Richard 'Stinker' Murdoch, Tommy Godfrey, Jack Norton, Jack Train, Michael Bates, The Western Brothers, Billy Dainty, Jake Thackray, Gladys Morgan, 'Monsewer' Eddie Gray, Arthur Houseman, Olsen & Johnson, Ted Ray, The Ritz Brothers, Peter Glaze, Claude Dampier: 'The Professional Idiot', Ronald Shiner, Billy Russell, Leslie Sarony, Thelma Todd, Albert Whelan, Tommy Trinder, Al Read, Larry Noble, Doug Fisher, G.H. Elliott: 'the Chocolate Coloured Coon', Harold Berens, Douglas Byng, Chic Murray, Mario Fabrizi, Michael Bentine…

Robert Ross is the leading authority on the history of British comedy. His sixteen books include The Monty Python Encyclopedia, The Carry On Story and Sid James – Cockney Rebel, The Complete Terry-Thomas and official BBC celebrations of such hit situation comedies as Fawlty Towers, Last of the Summer Wine and Steptoe and Son. His latest book is the critically-acclaimed biography of Marty Feldman. Robert has hosted sell-out National Film Theatre events with The Goodies and The League of Gentlemen, moderated over 50 DVD commentaries and written Doctor Who audio plays for sixth Doctor, Colin Baker. He is a frequent guest on radio and his many television credits include interviews forWhat's A Carry On?, Top Ten: Comedy Records, Will the Real Basil Fawlty Please Stand Up?, Legends: Hattie Jacques, Legends: Terry-Thomas, What the Pythons Did Next, Richard & Judy and the BBC News.
He lives in Buckinghamshire.

“...the top chronicler of British comedy.” – Howard Maxford, Film Review

“... I learned more about the Pythons from reading the Monty Python Encyclopaedia than from being one.” – Terry Jones

“Robert is a one-man encyclopaedia of the very best of British comedy. The mother lode of show business information!” – Jim Dale

“Robert’s knowledge of English comedy is formidable.” – Phil Collins


An extract from Robert's latest publication, the definitive tribute to Marty Feldman, 'The Biography of a Comedy Legend'. one of those unfairly forgotten heroes of comedy, forgotten no more...

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