An Evening of British Rubbish
A great title for our first ever complete documentary that was broadcast on TV; and an experience that led us to work (albeit briefly) with one of our favourite comedians of all time, Spike Milligan. We had been working on a comedy revue show idea for C4; and had run a number of open mic style spots looking for new talent to use in the pilot of the TV show ‘ A Night at the Comedy Store’. On one particular evening, in the back room of a run down working mens club somewhere in Northampton, we filmed our first ‘would be’ guests on the show. On the bill we had Jennie Eclair, The Morris Minors, Boothby Graffoe, what I can only describe as a rather ‘peculiar’ chap named Bob Flag; and an even more eccentric troupe of comedians called ‘The Alberts’. There were a few others, but I have to apologise if they ever read this, and admit I can’t remember their names, let alone their acts. But I do remember we had 21 people in the audience !
A Night at the Comedy Store never saw the light of day; and is laying somewhere deep in our archive. But for some reason I decided that the Alberts would make a documentary on their own merit, and this moment of ‘never letting an idea go’ led to almost a year of manic production.
An Evening of British Rubbish had originally been staged in the 1960s, running at the Comedy Theatre in Panton St, London. It was devised by two brothers, Tony and Douglas Gray; and another well known eccentric character named Professor Bruce Lacey. The two brothers and a group of others had performed an excerpt of the show for me at the open mic spot. The act involved them dressing in Victorian style clothes and playing a variety of strange home made instruments and ‘Heath Robinson’ style props. I can only describe the act in that you had to see it to believe it. The comedy, well if I tell you that at one point, Douglas is playing a game show contestant, his brother Tony asks him a question, then throws a bucket of paint on his brother’s head. To which he answers, ‘can I have that question again please’.
I was fascinated by an article they had given me, on a feature that had been written on them in the Telegraph’s Sunday Magazine. It was five pages long. Their pedigree was astounding. They were major influences on the Bonzo Dog Band, they were originally in the Temperence Seven, but had been thrown out. George Martin had recorded them. They had a fan club which included ‘Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers, Michael Bentine, Willie Rushton, John Wells, Princess Margaret, Ken Russell and a host of others. (They appeared in Ken Russell’s ‘Dante’s Inferno and ‘The Music Lovers’)