Titter ye not!
So many much-loved comic asides formed the backbone of comedian, and occasional Carry On film star, Frankie Howerd’s routine.
Although they sounded off the cuff, most of Frankie’s apparently spontaneous remarks to the audience were usually carefully planned in advance. He’d often cheekily imply something suggestive to the audience, before rounding on them in mock outrage for getting the wrong idea.
In the Roman era sitcom Up Pompeii! he played Lurcio, a Roman slave, who would get endlessly interrupted as he attempted to introduce each episode to the audience. It was the perfect vehicle for him.
Frankie had a low opinion of his own facial features, arguing he looked like “a disreputable bloodhound, a melancholy camel or an apologetic yak”.
Frankie created big laughs, but struggled with depression. As a gay man, he had also lived through an era when draconian laws forced people to conceal their sexuality.
First appearing on stage at the end of the Second World War, Frankie was briefly a big radio star and enjoyed a surprise revival during the satire boom in the sixties, before his TV career took off.
Fellow comedian Barry Cryer jokingly described Frankie’s career as “a series of comebacks.” Indeed, just hours before his death, Frankie had been talking to a TV producer on the phone, full of ideas about his next show.