Saturday, 18 June 2016
420 The Little and Large Show
First viewed : February 1980
Ah yes the critics' favourites - I jest of course; Clive James early on described their show as "like watching two men share one parachute " and they were consistently reviled throughout their television career.
The duo of Syd Little ( Cyril Mead ) and Eddie Large ( Edward McGinnis ) worked their way slowly up the ladder after starting out as pub singers in the early sixties. Gradually shifting their act towards comedy they got their big break on Opportunity Knocks in the seventies and then became regular variety show guests and had a stint presenting Crackerjack. Their first TV series was for Thames in 1977 but they switched to the BBC in 1978. Timing is everything and someone at the BBC, rocked by the defection of Eric and Ernie , saw them as potential replacements.
Hence their appearance in the Saturday night schedules from February 1980 onwards although generally in an earlier time slot than Morecambe and Wise. I don't think they were quite as bad as they're usually made out to be; there were worse comedy duos and we'll come to one shortly. Syd , perhaps genuinely , still wanted to be a singer and was an endearingly useless straight man while Eddie went through his repertoire of not quite up to the minute impressions. Even James conceded in the same article that he was "a gifted impersonator ". They were crap yes but that was part of the appeal.
The show featured star guests and the duo always looked genuinely pleased to receive them. For the first two series they had a regular dance troupe of eight girls known as Foxy Feeling who pushed the boat out even further than Hot Gossip for a pre-watershed show. I remember them doing a slow routine to Captain and Tenille's Do That To Me One More Time in skimpy bikinis and there was another - I think the song might have been The Gibson Brothers' Cuba - where they frolicked around with a giant banana. Producer Michael Hurll dropped them in 1981 at the same time that Legs & Co were ditched on Top of the Pops.
I don't think I watched it much after that first season but it survived for a decade in that slot before moving to Friday nights for a final season in 1991. The duo were rarely on TV after that and you get the impression the Beeb would prefer you to forget they ever broadcast the show.
Little and Large had to split up in 2003 when Eddie had a heart transplant and could no longer gig regularly . He maintains a light schedule of cameos in comedy dramas and after dinner speaking near to his home in Bristol . Syd appeared on Trust Me I'm A Holiday Rep in 2005 where he came across as a thoroughly nice guy. He's also worked on cruise ships , been active in Christians in Entertainment and since 2012 has run a restaurant in Fleetwood.