21 November 2014

Radio documentary provides backdrop to career of Freddie's grandad

This is to alert readers - and prospective readers - of Freddie Davies's autobiography Funny Bones to an interesting BBC Radio 2 documentary which provides an overview of the experience of comics in the variety era.

As some of you will know, Freddie's autobiography is really the story of two lives in comedy, as he also pays tribute to the man who inspired him, his grandad Jack Herbert.

Jack was a front cloth comic throughout the variety era, in at its birth just after the first world war and still performing in the 1950s as clubs began to supplant theatres - and that's precisely the period which Episode One of Radio 2's History of Comedy focuses on. With a good selection of talking heads and archive snippets, it's a well made and accessible introduction to the world Jack worked in, only slightly marred by intrusive background music played under David Mitchell's commentary and some of the interviews, as though the makers are fearful we wouldn't listen or know what to feel otherwise. 

You can listen to the documentary on BBC iplayer until the 28th of November here.

There is a longer post on this blog about the role of Jack Herbert in Freddie's life here.

Funny Bones includes a substantial account of Jack Herbert's career, drawing on The Stage, The Performer and other publications along with Freddie's personal memories, Jack's own writing and the testimony of a surviving brother who said of Jack's appearance in a 1920s revue Spotlight: "I never remember laughing so much at any show since."

Buy Freddie Davies's autobiography Funny Bones from amazon (paperback) or direct from Scratching Shed Publishing (paperback or limited edition hardback)