|THE Comedy Actor|
A heartfelt goodbye to a great. I know this column is as cynical as a cynical thing at times but today I'll be as sincere and upstanding as possible just like I was a couple of weeks ago to the great Eric Sykes.
Geoffrey Hughes was a comedy heavyweight and I don't mean by his trucker's frame (actually I think he only played a truck driver once). Boon, Spender, Please Sir, The Bill (probably), Doctor Who and lots of other one offs where he was as watchable as ever. Lighting up a screen ala Jack Nicholson, his distinctive voice didn't seem to hamper his talent for quite a bit of range and his ability to be likeable or a piece of shite depending upon the part. He first got a regular part in 'The Bin Men' back in the late 60s for Granada and that's where he first got well known. As a Scouser, he learned his trade bizarrely in Newcastle at one of the theatre companies there, not sure which one and that seemed to work for him well with particularly his comedy timing which was better than the vast majority of RSC pricks that have trashed many a British sitcom down the years.
Eddie Yates is probably his best known part, the lodger at Stan and Hilda Ogden's house in Coronation Street (that was his trucker role) and he did that one for years, however he would be known to a lot of under 30s as Twiggy in The Royal Family, again another part that he played to a gold standard level. I would always look forward to the Twiggy bits, his likeability was one thing but the crash bang wallop ways he would deliver the lines and the fact that he, like the rest of the cast seemed real was something to make you smile.
But I save the best till last in true comedy style. Keeping Up Appearances is one of the great British sitcoms in this humble stand up comedian's view. It's so silly. It's modern music hall farce and has a kind of irreverence and a peverse punk rock feel to it. Hyacenth Bucket, Richard and Hyacenth's manky sister and also the slapper one all have great lines and terrific bits of slapstick, as do the next door neighbours and the people who turn up occasionally to play one off parts. But Onslow, Hycenth's brother in law played by Geoffrey himself is the ultimate sitcom part. A layabout dressed in the 1990s underclass garb, he was always watching the racing or encouraging himself to do jack shit, very much the antithesis of Richard, Hycenth's husband. I can quote a great line 'I'm completely surrounded by no beer'. This was the bloke who played Eddie Yates in a production line sitcom, yet here he is crash bang walloping up great lines in a comedy show that was far too good to be described as mainstream.
Rest in peace you genuine comedy legend. By all accounts a great bloke as well. Terrific comedy curly hair as well. Speak tomorrow definitely.
TODAY'S BLOG IS SPONSORED BY THE A61 OUT OF HARROGATE.