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.

1 comment:

  1. I'm wondering if the lower-grade "comedy" duo you have in mind is the one I'm thinking of...

    I can remember L&L being on TV, but actual bits don't come to mind so easily. Plenty of bits that make you wince slightly but that was the time etc etc