Kenny Everett Licence to Laugh

Kenny Everett: Licence to Laugh
Sunday 18 November 2007 10:00pm – 11:00pm on ITV1.

With his unique and groundbreaking presenting style Kenny Everett: Licence To Laugh takes a look back at classic ‘Kenny’ moments from his successful TV and DJ career.

Using archive footage, Kenny plays an instrumental part as narrator giving viewers a unique insight into the life of this colourful character.

Some of the biggest names in comedy, music, television and radio share their stories about the man that had the nation laughing with his legendary characters such as Cupid Stunt, Sid Snot and Marcel Wave.

Contemporaries who knew and worked with Kenny such as Michael Parkinson, Billy Connolly, Cleo Rocos and Chris Tarrant to those who grew up watching and listening to him including Chris Moyles, Russell Brand and Leigh Francis all share their anecdotes and memories about the man affectionately known as Cuddly Ken.

As a successful radio DJ, Kenny first hit the TV screens in 1978 with the ‘Kenny Everett Video Show’ for Thames and then moving to the BBC with ‘The Kenny Everett Show’ in 1981.

“He was the best operator on British Television of that there’s no doubt he was as significant then as say (Ricky) Gervais is today,” reveals Michael Parkinson.

“He’s easily the greatest radio presenter of my lifetime” admits fellow DJ Chris Tarrant. “I just think he is head and shoulders, little head and little shoulders but miles above everybody else. The greatest strength that Kenny had is that everybody liked him, he was impossible to dislike.”

As a friend and regular on Kenny’s show, comedian Billy Connolly reveals: “I don’t think they’ll be another Kenny Everett and I don’t think there’s supposed to be. These guys come in ones, they’ll sell units and people always say how are we going to replace them, you don’t replace them. You count yourself grateful you saw it when it was there and if you were dead jammy you actually got to stand beside it when it was working. He arrived as a fully fashioned rebel, did his rebellious work and buggered off.”

Presenter Russell Brand, who regularly watched Kenny’s TV shows as a child agrees: “It’s difficult to define genius of course but it seems there was an energy about him, a define spark of mischief that consumed his life that was unique to him. In particular that there is no-one directly in his lineage, suggest that there was something special about him. The rate that he worked, his desire to innovate seems to conform to the notion of genius as we understand it, so yes. He made a lot of people laugh, alas not himself, again another quality of genius.”

With the show’s popularity reaching unimaginable heights, the world’s biggest stars were all clambering to appear alongside Kenny and were only too happy to feature in many of the mad cap sketches – David Bowie, Rod Stewart, Cliff Richard.

Cliff Richard reveals: “There was one show where he (Kenny Everett) said ‘I’ve used it before, I’ve said we’re going to leave you at a cliff hanger… well you’re here today’ and I though oh my goodness what’s he going to do. He would take me aside and say ‘now look you don’t have to do this but we’d love if it you’d let us hang you on television!”

Cliff continues: “If somebody said to me put the five comedy names forward for the title genius I would put his (Kenny Everett) name down, along with (Eric) Morecombe, Tony Hancock.”

A cardboard version of the legendary talk show host Michael Parkinson was often seen in Kenny’s infamous Cupid Stunt sketch, but Parky admits: “I had nightmares about saying the name; even now I have to think which goes first, Cupid! I thought he’s making a statement here, he’s making a comment about my interviewing style!” But Parkinson says: “I grew to love it because it worked it was funny.”

Radio 1 Chris Moyles, a self confessed fan of Kenny’s, explains how his groundbreaking style has influenced current comedy today.

“It’s early Fast Show, its early Little Britain, he says. “He’s doing really clever split screen stuff and he’ll talk to himself, now that takes brilliant timing, really perfect timing to do that.”

He continues: “What an amazing cool dude, he was mates with Freddie Mercury who was brilliant and quite pally its fair to say with this little band called The Beatles.”

Whilst fellow DJ and presenter Russell Brand admits to having a secret crush on one of Kenny’s characters.

“When you’re watching at home you think he’s going to do that leg crossing in a minute and the tension sort of builds. Oh here it comes, he can’t resist the leg cross (does his Cupid Stunt impression) Oh he’s done it, he’s moved his legs…God bless you!”

And Russell jokes: “I did he fancy him (Kenny Everett) a bit when he was being Cupid Stunt I used to think alright he’s got a beard but that’s a hell of a cleavage!”

Kenny Everett: Licence To Laugh is the definitive tribute to a comedy genius whose influence then and now is a continual inspiration to entertainers and whose unique contribution to comedy is still playing an important role today.

The Characters:

Cupid Stunt (on BBC Show only) – The most talked about and controversial character, due to the name, which was created by Barry Cryer, who was a lover of spoonerisms. She was a ‘bearded’ Hollywood starlet and Kenny wore enormous boobs, which he kept adjusting on camera. It was at the end of these sketches where Kenny created his catchphrase “in the best possible taste” when crossing her wide-open legs, almost lifting out of the chair, revealing a pair of red knickers. She would talk to a cardboard cut out of Michael Parkinson, reeling off a string of risqué anecdotes about her encounters with various directors and the world of showbusiness.

Sid Snot – An ill-mannered punk who would end each sketch by throwing a cigarette into the air and catching it in his mouth. The character was hugely popular, especially with the younger viewers.

Angry of Mayfair – A puritan city gent who complained about the risqué content of the show, banging the camera with his umbrella, only then to be revealed as actually wearing women’s underwear.

Marcel Wave – A lascivious Frenchman and hairdresser: the only character that didn’t sport a beard. On his last appearance he ripped off his plastic chin and said: “You see, my little mange-touts, it was ME all the time.”

Brother Lee Love – A character with massive hands (Kenny emulated this during the ‘Let’s Bomb Russia’ incident).

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