Bob's laughing as his jokes make a recovery

Tuesday 19 November 1996 01:02 GMT

There was rejoicing yesterday, in some quarters anyway, at the news that comedian Bob Monkhouse's joke books, missing since July last year, had been recovered.

The books, containing the entertainer's "life's work", were on their way back to him after his agent Peter Pritchard was handed the books yesterday by a man asking for "a five-figure sum".

Mr Monkhouse, 68, presenter of the National Lottery Show, immediately offered a pounds 10,000 reward for the return of the books when they disappeared from his briefcase whilst he was working at the BBC Television Centre in London almost 18 months ago.

The thickly bound maroon books contained more than 25 years of work, including fully scripted jokes and ideas for sketches and plays.

News of the age of some of the jokes brought sarcastic comments from some fellow comics. Stan Boardman said: "When they find it, how will they know it's a joke book?"

Mr Monkhouse was not amused: "Every idea I have had I write down in the books: dialogue, thoughts for plays, books and shows, all in longhand, and I always kept them in my possession."

Last night, after the folders were recovered and a pounds 10,000 reward handed over, Stanley Allen Swaine, 47, a management consultant, of Spring Street, Paddington, London, was charged with handling stolen goods after the folders were recovered andpounds 10,000 handed over. Police said he will appear before Marlborough Street magistrates, London, on December 17.

Mr Monkhouse had started new joke books from scratch after the theft, but the two volumes amounted to his life's work, Mr Pritchard said. "It caused us a lot of problems." Bob Monkhouse added: "My agent told me `your babies have returned home. That which you have inadvertently set free has come home'. To say I am overjoyed would be understating my state of mind. I am ecstatic."

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