23 April 2010

Starr performer

After the Leaders Debate ended last night, I did some channel hopping and found that ITV3 were about to show An Audience With Freddie Starr.

Now, I watched this when it was first shown, though didn't realise until inspection of the end credits this time round that it was a whole 14 years ago. I should have guessed, really, given the youthfulness of Patsy Palmer and how unbotoxed Dale Winton was when Starr dragged him on to the stage.

Anyway, the point is, this was a stunning hour of television. Chaotic but controlled and screamingly funny. Starr chucking live maggots into the crowd and the camera panning in on Faith Brown picking them out of a grossly overplumped cleavage. Peter Stringfellow having his hair forcibly cut from within a set of stocks - and Carol Smillie's half-horrified, half-orgasmic face in the crowd as the scissors snipped away. Nigel Havers, without his grey highlights, trying desperately to sing along as an unrehearsed backing singer and failing. Mr Motivator being asked to pedal an exercise bike to "keep the power going" while Starr did that 'speed up, slow down' shtick on Unchained Melody.

And between the hoots and howls, some terrific singing, especially when Elvis Presley's backing vocalists, the Jordanaires (and their amazing wigs), came on stage to back Starr with style and a smile.

I know Starr is controversial as both a person and performer - though he doesn't to my knowledge have racially dubious material that got some of his peers taken off the television forever - but why is he not on television more often? Is he retired? Is he regarded as too old-fashioned? I'd rather watch him for an hour than Ricky Gervais (though I'd rather watch Kenneth Starr for an hour than Ricky Gervais).

Here's the 'speed up, slow down' song for you. It's tremendous.


Clair said...

Speaking as someone who remembers him dressed up as Hitler in shorts and wellies, and on Who Do You Do?, I would agree. There's a slightly aggressive daftness about what he does, but as with any comic of his generation, there just isn't a slot for him on TV any more. Joe Pasquale is a similar act; genuinely very funny, but percieved as old-fashioned.
I don't think Starr's personality has done him any favours though - if you saw him on Wife Swap, you'd have hoped he wasn't the same nasty old git to work with.

Louis Barfe said...

From what I can gather, his absence from screens has less to do with fashion and more to do with the fact that he's, er, high maintenance.