Sunday, 19 June 2016

421 Lennie and Jerry

First  viewed : February / March  1980

The  "only  comedy  duo  with  two  straight  men"  line   has  been  used  so  often  it's  become  a cliche  to  avoid. I'm  not  sure  of  its  provenance  but  I  can't  think  of  anyone  to  whom  it  could be  more  fairly  applied  than  this  pairing. Even  Cannon  and  Ball  on  the  other  channel  were more  entertaining.

They  were  actually  on  their  third  and  final  season  here, after  a  brief  three  show  run  on Saturdays  in  the  summer  of  1978  then  a  longer  stint  on  BBC2  on  a  Monday  in  1979. Quite how  they  managed  that,   I  don't  know  having  been  fortunate  enough  to  miss  them  before they  got  the  post-Top  of  the  Pops  slot  at  the  end  of  February  1980.

It  would  be  easy  to  assume,  given  that  he  had  the  longer  career  that  Lennie  Bennett  was  the "funny  one"   but  that  wasn't  the  case. They  were  both  equally  bad  , their  banter   stilted  and embarrassing. When  you  find  yourself   longing  for  guest  stars  of  the  calibre  of  The  Barron Knights  to   provide   some  light  relief  you  know  it's  desperate. In  fact  the  Knights  dropped  to the  same  depths  with  a  barber  shop  quartet  routine  whose  only  concession  to  humour  was the last  line "We  will  always  be  around  to  come  and  take  the  piss". Well  thankfully  not.  A regular  turn  on  that  season  was  professional  Yorkshireman   Albert  Pontefract  who  was  a  sort of  proto-Al  Murray  but  not  very  funny  either.

It  has  to  be  said  that  the  material  was  terrible  too. Of  the  five  credited  writers  on  that season only  Lennie  Bennett  himself  has  an  entry  on  wikipedia. It's  as   if  the  whole  show  were  a receptacle  for  the  cheapest  "talent"  available. I  remember  one  episode  used  Jerry  Stevens' supposed  Italian  background   as  an  excuse  to  trot  out  all  the  old  jokes  about  Italian  war heroes.

I  say  "supposed"  because  there's  precious  little  official  information  about  Jerry  anywhere. His last  appearance  on  TV  was  a  walk-on  role  in  In  Sickness  and  in  Health  in  1987. A  trawl through  some  chat  sites  reveals  that  his  real  surname  is  Pinder  ( hmm, not  very  Italian sounding ) he's  divorced  and  worked  for  the  Variety  Club  organising  golf  days  for  many years. One  interesting  comment  said  he  and  Lennie  "hardly  knew  each  other  at  all. They  were thrown  together  by  LWT  as  a  comedy  duo "  which  would  make  sense,  given  how  poor  they were  in  tandem.  Bennett  of  course   found  work  as  a  host  of  lower  grade  gameshows   for  the next  decade  but  he  too  was  off  screen  by  the  mid-nineties. He  died  following  a  fall  at  his home  in  2009.

No comments:

Post a Comment