Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Audio of Freddie on 1968 Hughie Green show

I was delighted to learn that the audio for the programme Goodbye to Didsbury, broadcast on 30th July 1968 as ABC Television was preparing to merge with Rediffusion and become Thames Television, has been made available on the Transdiffusion website here.

Deprived of the visuals (the screengrab is actually from Hughie's final Opportunity Knocks in 1978) you have to use a certain amount of imagination, but Freddie's appearance certainly sounds anarchic, and the audience is in an uproar throughout. Freddie appears at around 23'10".

And it's wonderful to hear, if not see, that the memory which I have carried around for almost fifty years of a touching moment of sobriety and sincerity which followed the clowning as Freddie came out of character proves to have been correct. I think he and Hughie finally sat down and Freddie removed his hat, as though to signify he was no longer in Tweet mode, as he talked about the special atmosphere of the Didsbury studios - where he had rocketed to fame at the end of the very first series of Opportunity Knocks on 1st August 1964.

For those who haven't yet read it, I originally described that moment of Freddie coming out of character in a blog post here. I sent a link to Freddie, not realising that it was, in effect, a calling card: he needed someone to help him with his autobiography. The book was eventually published on the fiftieth anniversary of his first appearance on Opportunity Knocks. Click on the "About" page for more details.

Monday, 1 August 2016

It was 52 years ago today ...

To mark the fifty-second anniversary of Freddie's debut on Opportunity Knocks, here's an interview which begins with a short clip from that legendary 1964 performance. 

Freddie's appearance came at the end of an extraordinary week which had begun with the young comic at his lowest ebb, struggling through an audience participation show in Dunoon. An article in The Stage had claimed he was leading his own troupe, but in fact it was just Freddie and a pianist called Tom, dying twice daily (except Sunday) in an open air theatre near where the ferries docked. "It was called Fun With Freddie," he recalls. "And if a few lost souls – kids, dripping wet dogs and some well known local drunks – did happen along to see what all the noise was about, they would be confronted at the end of the show by council operatives from the bin department taking up a collection in tins."

So how did he get from this ignominy to stardom? The full story of the amazing week which turned Freddie's fortunes around, taking him from Dunoon to Didsbury, can be found in his autobiography Funny Bones. 

You can buy it from amazon (paperback) or direct from Scratching Shed Publishing (paperback or limited edition hardback).

Read an extract here.

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