Thursday, July 02, 2015

Rocking Chairs, Pullovers and Bowler Hats

Val Doonican is dead!  How can we go on without the Irish crooner and his nice pullovers and rocking chair?  Actually, we've been doing pretty well without him since he retired from British TV back in the eighties.  But for more than twenty years he seemed to be a Saturday night fixture on the BBC with his show.  It was television of a different, far gentler, kind than we've become used to - if a celebrity has their own TV show with their name in the title these days, it's usually some kind of egotistical chat show, with the guests lucky to get a word in edgeways.  Back when Val was in his prime, though, it was the norm for singers to have their own show where, in addition to trotting out some of their favourite numbers, they'd feature several guests, usually other singers or comedians, allow them to do their thing and probably perform a duet with them.  To be frank, when I was a kid, these types of TV shows used to bore me rigid - all that bloody singing!  Dr Who and The Basil Brush Show were more like my idea of Saturday night TV - not to mention Kojak in the mid-seventies. At least stuff happened in them!  Besides, there are only so many times you can sit through Val singing 'Paddy McGinty's Goat'.  Obviously, I was in the minority with these opinions, as his show ran and ran and even spawned a series of popular Christmas specials - mind you, even Doonican himself admitted that he found these unwatchable.

Despite not being a fan of his shows, it always seemed clear to me that Doonican was a pretty nice guy.  So I'm going to enjoy his legacy before someone starts making allegations as to what he got up to with Paddy McGinty and his goat in the 1970s.  Sadly, Val Doonican is just the latest in a number of people from the world of entertainment who we've recently lost: Christopher Lee, Ron Moody, James Horner, the list just goes on.  Saddest of all, from a personal point of view, has been the passing of the great Patrick MacNee.  The Avengers was a big part of my TV watching childhood - Diana Rigg was my first crush and MacNee's John Steed was, for my younger self, the epitome of what an English gentleman should be.  I know he was 93, so his death was hardly a shock, but it still came as a bit of a blow to me: another big part of my childhood gone.  An interesting fact about MacNee which I learned from his obituaries was that, in later life, after he had retired to California, he became an enthusiastic naturist.  I'd like to think that he kept his bowler hat on and still carried his umbrella, though.  Now, that would have been an interesting episode of The Avengers - Emma Peel opening her front door to find Steed, clad only in bowler and umbrella, standing there, with  'Mrs Peel, we're needed', written across his chest.

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Blogger gavcrimson said...

Uschi Digard tells a funny story about MacNee and naturism in this podcast interview

3:19 pm  

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