The "Comedy of Errors" (Dick Emery Show)

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Brock
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The "Comedy of Errors" (Dick Emery Show)

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I found today's "Comedy Chronicles" from Graham McCann particularly interesting - the subject was the producer Harold Snoad, who hitherto had just been a name on the credits:

https://www.comedy.co.uk/features/comed ... old-snoad/

In particular I noted that Snoad was the originator of the "Comedy of Errors" sections that appeared at the end of The Dick Emery Show, collecting together out-takes from the programme. This predated shows like It'll Be Alright on the Night and Auntie's Bloomers, and I'm wondering whether it was the first instance of "bloopers" being presented as public entertainment?
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Re: The "Comedy of Errors" (Dick Emery Show)

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That would be the late 70s editions, wouldn't it. The first mentions of 'out-takes' on Genome is the Noel Edmonds Late Breakfast show in 1983, so Emery probably was first on the BBC. It'll Be Alright On the Night was first broadcast in Sept 1977, so it would be a close run thing.
Obviously VT Christmas tapes had been doing the rounds long before.

I wonder what the remit was for including those bits in the Dick Emery Show though - to pad out to length?
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Re: The "Comedy of Errors" (Dick Emery Show)

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stearn wrote: Sun May 15, 2022 7:11 pm That would be the late 70s editions, wouldn't it.
Didn't they start in the mid-70s? McCann says that Snoad took over as regular producer/director in 1973, though he doesn't give a specific date for the introduction of "Comedy of Errors". I remember watching them with my grandparents, and I moved from there in 1978.
stearn wrote: Sun May 15, 2022 7:11 pm I wonder what the remit was for including those bits in the Dick Emery Show though - to pad out to length?
This is what Graham McCann says:
Snoad was also imaginative, and shrewd, enough to seize on happy accidents. He responded, for example, to his star's growing habit (particularly when acting alongside Roy Kinnear) of 'corpsing' during takes by turning these cock-ups into extra comic clips, which he collected together and added to episodes under the banner of The Comedy Of Errors. This not only added further to the programme's subtle innovations, increased the quotient of laughs and (to the delight of the accountants) cut down on wasted tape, but also helped relax Emery during filming, encouraging him to see his mistakes more as opportunities for healthy self-mockery rather than yet more moments for forehead-slapping frustration.
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Re: The "Comedy of Errors" (Dick Emery Show)

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Thanks. I did get the viewing VHSs that had been used when making the Heroes of Comedy series, so had the chance to go through a lot of The Dick Emery Show but that was 20 years ago and I was going from memory regarding the inclusion of Comedy of Errors and hoping someone else might have a better recollection.

McCann's explanation certainly holds, but there are a couple of questions it does raise. Were less scripts commissioned based on an unknown amount of out-takes being included in the show? Were the out-takes funnier than commissioned scripts?

I hold my hands up and fully disclose that I only find The Dick Emery Show interesting on an 'academic' level, but certainly not as a comedy, and I am surprised that it ran for so long. This does tie-in with my questions above, as I have always thought the comedy to be sub-par and very repetitive - was this feeling felt by those producing the show as well?

It is also rather telling that during his extensive time at the BBC, Emery only made the cover of the Radio Times the once in the 1960s. He appeared on the TVTimes cover once he had 'defected' to Thames. The Two Ronnies, Morecambe and Wise, and Brucie all made multiple covers, as presumably their popular shows were seen as a major selling point. I haven't been able to get to the bottom of why Emery didn't have the same pulling power, but it also begs the question, if the show wasn't seen a 'puller', why did it go on for so long?
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Re: The "Comedy of Errors" (Dick Emery Show)

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stearn wrote: Mon May 16, 2022 11:19 am McCann's explanation certainly holds, but there are a couple of questions it does raise. Were less scripts commissioned based on an unknown amount of out-takes being included in the show? Were the out-takes funnier than commissioned scripts?
The "Comedy of Errors" only lasted for a minute or two, as I recall, but I suppose there would have been slightly less scripted material after it was introduced. I think it ran for a fixed length every episode. Whether the out-takes were funnier is entirely subjective, of course.
I hold my hands up and fully disclose that I only find The Dick Emery Show interesting on an 'academic' level, but certainly not as a comedy, and I am surprised that it ran for so long. This does tie-in with my questions above, as I have always thought the comedy to be sub-par and very repetitive - was this feeling felt by those producing the show as well?
Well I haven't watched it since it was originally broadcast - I would have only seen it during the mid-70s when I was between the ages of 7 and 12. I loved the "Lampwick" character but I did find some of the other sketches a bit repetitive. There were some very innovative episodes though - I particularly remember one where Emery played two rival railway station managers competing for an award for "Best Kept Railway Station" ("East Dilthorpe" and "Wrotten End", I think?).
I haven't been able to get to the bottom of why Emery didn't have the same pulling power, but it also begs the question, if the show wasn't seen a 'puller', why did it go on for so long?
It's a good question. Sketch comedy based on predictable characters certainly brings in an audience - if it didn't, shows like Harry Enfield's Television Programme and The Fast Show would never have taken off. (In fact I remember an interview where Harry Enfield specifically cited Dick Emery as an influence.)
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Re: The "Comedy of Errors" (Dick Emery Show)

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stearn wrote: Mon May 16, 2022 11:19 am He appeared on the TVTimes cover once he had 'defected' to Thames.
Made three programmes and came back to the BBC! Does anyone actually remember him on ITV?
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Re: The "Comedy of Errors" (Dick Emery Show)

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I was trying to remember how long the Comedy of Errors segments were and whether they were in each show or at the end of the series. If it were 1-2 minutes per show (25mins - I'll check Genome later) then that is a saving on one script commission.

The Thames shows were released commercially I think, whereas there has only been a Best Of... the BBC stuff. His Thames shows were no better. It was two comedy dramas he returned to the BBC for, wasn't it. IIRC he died just as the last was being broadcast. I do vaguely remember watching it.

Obviously Emery's stuff has dated far more than Morecambe and Wise (where there is quite a lot of repetition throughout the years) and The Two Ronnies (where there is an awful lot of dross). The latter was surprising as I really paid attention with the XX years of the Two Ronnies series from the mid 80s onwards. Obviously they were the best bits, so I thought everything was comedy gold.

The late great Barry Cryer compared ITMA and The Fast Show for the catchphrases and characters, so funny is funny. I've listened to and watched a huge amount of comedy and, on paper, Emery should be intrinsically funny, even if it isn't what I would choose to watch. I can't even say I admire the craft and expertise behind it because it all seemed to be low hanging fruit - garish caricatures and stereotypes.

Oddly, there was a reel and short video pop up in my Facebook feed the other day. It was filmed in India and there were two people selling trays of eggs next to each other. One changes their price to undercut the other, the other follows suit, etc., until the older one buys the others eggs. He smiles with the money in his hand, then sees the older one move all the eggs to his table and instantly put up the original price. I remember it being tights in the Dick Emery show. It suggests there must be repeats in India!
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Re: The "Comedy of Errors" (Dick Emery Show)

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stearn wrote: Mon May 16, 2022 7:54 pm I was trying to remember how long the Comedy of Errors segments were and whether they were in each show or at the end of the series. If it were 1-2 minutes per show (25mins - I'll check Genome later) then that is a saving on one script commission.
They were at the end of each show, but I think the shows were longer than 25 minutes. Genome shows them as 30 or 35 minutes (maybe they got longer when the "Comedy of Errors" was introduced?)
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Re: The "Comedy of Errors" (Dick Emery Show)

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The first example of "The Comedy Of Errors or (put another way) unscheduled 'moments' during the making of this week's show" I can find is in the edition transmitted 3rd September 1977 - the start of that year's series. Brock, it is the one with the Stationmasters sketch you remember. It is at the end of the show (there is an 'and finally' caption to start it) and the end titles are red with yellow text by this time - which is what I remembered The Comedy of Errors titles being. The earlier Snoad series have blue as the background colour and I didn't see any cock-ups in those.

Of course, this is very interesting as it is the same month that It'll Be Alright on the Night (18th) was broadcast, but I'm sure it is pure coincidence and absolutely nothing to do with spiking the opposition!
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Re: The "Comedy of Errors" (Dick Emery Show)

Post by Brock »

Oh OK - a bit later than I thought, but before 1978 as I suggested. (I won't quibble about whether 1977 is "mid-70s" or "late 70s"!) Thanks.
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Re: The "Comedy of Errors" (Dick Emery Show)

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Ha! I didn't even go back to check what my gut-feeling was. I was just glad to find an example after skimming through far too many DVDs.
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