40 years ago | Chamberlains Farm, Shevington Moor | 17th March 1983
If you wanted schoolboy humour on the telly in the early 1980s, there were plenty of places to find it but for the ‘gold standard’ of the form, there was only one place to look: The Kenny Everett Television Show...
TV-wise, Thursdays were the best night of the week. Perhaps it helped that my Dad used to work late on a Thursday, so it was easier to decide which of the four channels our only colour television would be tuned to, without being over-ruled. As a result, it was inevitably tuned to BBC1 on Thursdays.
I loved Tomorrow’s World and, obviously, Top of the Pops was always ‘appointment TV’, back then. As soon as the TOTP credits had rolled, it was time for ‘Cuddly Ken’ to assail our senses – and what a half-hour it was!
‘Sid Snot’, ‘Gizzard Puke’, ‘Marcel Wave’, ‘Brother Lee Love’, ‘Maurice Mimer’ and ‘Reg Prescott’ were among the blizzard of comedy characters unleashed on our disbelieving eyes. Each one was an instant hit with perfectly-crafted catch-phrases for playground recital, the next day.
I remember liking things that I knew were popular before Kenny Everett but I think it’s fair to say that his show was among the first things I liked because I knew it was ‘cool’. I also can’t think of anything before Ken that I loved specifically because it was subversive. You knew it often skated along the ragged edge of what humour could get away with – which made it all the more appealing.
And there was no greater example of the show’s risqué quality than the sketches featuring the spoof Hollywood actress character, ‘Cupid Stunt’. I can still remember it being one of the highlights of my nine year-old life when I thought to reverse the spoonerism – and shocked myself with what I’d discovered: the most obscene in-joke imaginable, hiding in plain sight.
Ken as Cupid may have offended millions and pushed the boundaries of television’s final taboo, in a far more restrictive age than today – but it really was all done in the best possible taste…