Atlantic £9.99 (400pp) (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop : 08430 600 030
Turned Out Nice Again, By Louis Barfe
Friday 04 September 2009
Though his title was the catch-phrase of George Formby, Barfe's account of British light entertainment makes only fleeting reference to the horse-faced ukelele-basher.
After a solemn analysis of the Goons ("Eccles and Bluebottle displayed a touching faith in authority and humanity") that ignores Milligan's jokes, Barfe moves to TV light entertainment.
He approaches this topic with an assiduity others have applied to the Roman Empire. We learn that "Ronnie Hazlehurst contributed... a superb arrangement of 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' for a 1964 Billy Cotton Band Show".
His epic account concludes with the overthrow of Ronnies, Bernies and Tommies by Riks, Keiths and Nigels. The genre's decline was pinpointed by Noel Edmonds in 1999: "The girl behind the desk [at the BBC] asked who I was."
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