TV: COMEDY FUNDRAISERS

by Peter Tatchell (copyright 2012)

1. The Amnesty Concerts
(updated from LAUGH MAGAZINE #8, 1993)

In late 1975, Amnesty International, the worldwide human rights organisation, was preparing to celebrate its fifteenth anniversary. They envisioned a modest fundraising concert to be staged one Sunday night in London’s West Endfeaturing a number of performers, who would hopefully donate their talents for the evening. One of the artists they approached was John Cleese (then riding high with the first series of Fawlty Towers). Cleese not only agreed to appear, but promised to rope in a few friends from the world of show business. The result was not a single night’s entertainment, but three, and a coming together of the top names of British comedy.

Titled A Poke In The Eye (With A Sharp Stick) it premiered on April Fool’s Day 1976 and reunited cast members of Beyond The Fringe, The Establishment, The Cambridge Circus, Monty Python’s Flying Circus and The Goodies who recreated a selection of their most famous routines originally performed on stage and television over the previous fifteen years. Dudley Moore and Eric Idle were unable to take part in the proceedings, but Terry Jones substituted in the “Fringe” sketches, and Peter Cook returned the compliment by joining the Pythons in their courtroom sendup.

Also on the bill were Barry Humphries (finally cracking the big-time with the stage success Housewife Superstar and a BBC television special some weeks earlier), Des Jones exhibiting some physical dexterity with a pantomime routine and Neil Innes (about to appear with the Pythons inNew York a fortnight later) providing a musical offering.

The shows were enormously successful (both artistically and financially) and Amnesty’s coffers were also supported by an LP and a 100 minute television documentary of the occasion (titled Pleasure at Her Majesty’s) Screened as an Omnibus program by the BBC, it was also given theatrical release.

A year later, London’s Mermaid Theatre played host to a smaller one-night concert in a similar vein. The Mermaid Frolics offered a mixture of music and comedy with the mainstays of the original production (Cleese, Cook, Miller and Jones) being joined by Peter Ustinov, Julie Covington, John Williams and the Bowles Brothers Band. Again, there was an LP of highlights and a TV special.

In 1979, it was back to Her Majesty’s for the (first) Secret Policeman’s Ball held over four consecutive nights’ This time Cook and the Pythons were joined by Billy Connolly, medicos Buckman and Beetles, the riotous Ken Campbell Roadshow (featuring future Doctor Who Sylvester McCoy) and a rubber-faced clown on the threshold of success, Rowan Atkinson. Like the previous concert, the shows featured several musical artists as well with Pete Townshend and Tom Robinson joining former participants John Williams anti Neil Innes in donating their services.

Notable moments included Cook’s wickedly savage satire on a recent highly-publicized court case and guest appearances by several well-known celebrities in a Pythonesque game show send-up. Merchandising for the event included two LPs (one comedy, one featuring musical items) and a video. ITV screened an hour of highlights as a Christmas treat six months later.

The Theatre Royal, Drury Lanewas the venue for the fourth Amnesty presentation The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball staged in late 1981. Though missing Cook, Jones and Palin the performing lineup boasted the return of Billy Connolly and Barry Humphries (as the redoubtable ‘Dame Edna’), Alexei Sayle, Jasper Carrott and four-fifths of the Not The Nine O’clock News team. Cleese, Bennett, Fortune, Chapman and John Wells represented the sixties era with a mix of classic routines (several from At Last! The 1948 Show) and many newly scripted items.

The musical content was expanded with such names as Sting, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Bob Geldof, Phil Collins and Donovan joining the festivities. And this time, in addition to a video and two LPs,Methuenput out a large format paperback as a souvenir of the event.

Six years elapsed until The Secret Policeman’s Third Ball with a cast reflecting the popular names in British comedy in the latter half of the 1980s. Lenny Henry, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, Emo Phillips, Gareth Hale and Norman Pace, Phil Cool, Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French, Craig Ferguson and Ben Elton joined Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones, Chris Langham, Bill Oddie, Warren Mitchell (as ‘Alf Garnett’), Andrew Sachs (as ‘Manuel’) and the Spitting Image puppets to headline the bill.

Rather than reworking a lot of classic comedy routines’ the four concerts of the Third Ball relied on mostly new material. On the musical side, Duran Duran, Joan Armatrading and Jackson Browne led a long list of pop performers.

Souvenirs included a book, two videos and two LPs (which were also released on the soon-to-be-dominant compact disc).

By comparison, the Secret Policeman’s Biggest Ball was a much more modest affair (despite its title).Celebrating the tenth anniversary of the first Ball, the accent was back on comedy with the old guard of Cleese and Palin joined by Fry and Laurie, Victoria Wood, French and Saunders, Robbie Coltrane, Lenny Henry, Ben Elton, Will Rushton, Adrian Edmondson, Jimmy Mulville and the Spitting Image puppets. Highlight of the four concerts was the reuniting of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, who performed two of their classic 1960s routines (One Leg Too Few and The Frog and Peach). Other favourites to get a revival were Python’s Crunchy Frog and The Last Supper, not to mention an audience-fooling version of Pet Shop.

Surprisingly, there was a distinct lack of merchandising for the event with a briefly-available video being the only souvenir issued (which, happily, has now been re-released). ITV covered the occasion with an hour-long program of highlights screened a month later.

Two years later, London’s Duke of York’s Theatre was host to an Amnesty fundraiser titled The Famous Compere’s Police Dog with Julian Clary, Arthur Smith, Jeremy Hardy, Kit Hollerbach and a number of other stand-up performers donating their services. A video release was the concert’s only merchandising.

When Amnesty itself achieved its thirtieth anniversary at the end of 1991, ITV marked the occasion by presenting a 2-hour all-star telethon. Predominantly a musical event, Amnesty’s Big 30 also featured a number of introductions and standup routines by leading comedy names, some of whom abandoned humour to highlight individual cases in which Amnesty was involved. Again, only a highlights video was issued of the telecast.

Later that decade, the fundraising focus shifted to the Gaiety Theatre Dublin with annual events in 1997 and 1998 titled So You Think Your Irish hosting a lineup of top Irish standup comics. Highlights were later  screened by ITV (the latter event airing as three half-hour programmes).

Then it was back to London’s Wembley Arena in 2001 for We Know Where You Live! which also spawned a TV special (this time on Channel 4) and a commercial dvd.

Three years later the Irish contingent was back with more standup in Stop! You’re Killing Me, which also appeared on dvd.

In 2006 it was decided to resurrect the Secret Policeman’s Ball title (not used since the late 1980s), with Eddie Izzard hosting an all-star concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Two years later there was another Ball at the same venue.

All the events have played a significant part in injecting much-needed capital into Amnesty’s bank balance and, along the way, created a wealth of audio, video and printed material by the cream of the comedy world from the past fifty years.

 

Pleasure at Her Majesty’s aka A Poke In The Eye (With A Sharp Stick)
Her Majesty’s Theatre on April 1, 2 and 3 1976
featuring Alan Bennett, John Bird, Eleanor Bron, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Carol Cleveland, Peter Cook, John Fortune,GraemeGarden, Terry Gilliam, Barry Humphries, Neil Innes, Des Jones, Terry Jones, Jonathan Lynn, Jonathan Miller, Bill Oddie and Michael Palin.
Directed by Jonathan Miller.
a 100 minute Omnibus special Pleasure At Her Majesty’s documented the rehearsals and performances (screened on BBCI on December 29 1976, and released theatrically).

Videos

Beyond The Fringe
Wizard release, NTSC only (70 mins)
Pet Shop (Cleese & Palin)
Happy, Darling? (Bron & Fortune)
Funky Gibbon (Brooke-Thylor/Garden/Oddie)
Pantomime (Des Jones)
Lawrence (Bennett)
True British Spunk (Humphries)
The Miner (Cook)
Court Room Sketch (The Pythons plus Cook)
The Last Supper (Cleese & Lynn)
Telegram (Bennett)
Protest Song (Innes)
Asp (Cook & Fortune)
College Of Advanced Slapstick (The Pythons plus Oddie)
Appeal (Bron)
So That’s The Way You Like It (Bennett/Cook/Miller/T Jones)
Lumberjack Song (Palin & Company)

Secret Policeman’s Private Parts
(US Media/NTSC, Supreme/PAL) 80 min
contains highlights from the first four Amnesty events
Pet Shop (Cleese & Palin)
Court Room (The Pythons plus Cook) * split into 4 segments
Sensation Seekers (Ken Campbell Roadshow) # from S.P. Ball
You Say Potato (Bird & Fortune)
Hangman (Carrott) # from S.P. Other Ball
The Last Supper (Cleese & Lynn)
Please (Bron & Fortune) # from S.P. Ball
Protest Song (Innes)
What’s On In Stoke Newington (Sayle) # from S.P. Other Ball
Asp (Cook & Fortune)
College Of Advanced Slapstick (The Pythons plus Oddie) * split into 2 segments
Reading The Riot Act (Langham) # from S.P. Other Ball
Happy, Darling? (Bron & Fortune)
Bookshop (Cleese & Booth) # from Mermaid Frolics
Forgive Me (T Jones) # from Mermaid Frolics
Conductor (Atkinson) # from S.P. Other Ball
Reagan (Wells) # from S.P. Other Ball
Silly Song (Gilliam & Cleese)
Royal Australian Prostate Foundation (Humphries) # from S.P. Other Ball
The Name’s The Game (Cleese/T Jones/Ford./Brearley) # from S.P. Ball
Lumberjack Song (Palin & Company)
(video also featured musical items by Townshend, Donovan, Collins and Geldof)

DVDs

The Secret Policeman’s Early Bits
Umbrella DVD DAVID 0025 (2001)
highlights from Pleasure at Her Majesty’s:
Message from Robin Williams
Parrot Sketch
T.E. Lawrence
Spunk
Miner
Courtroom Sketch
Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off (aka You Say Potato)
Protest Song
The Last Supper
Funky Gibbon
Telegram

Hamlet
Asp
The Japes Lecture
Appeal
So That’s The Way You Like It
I’m a Lumberjack
highlights from The Mermaid Frolics:
John Geilgud Interviews Pieter de Hoogh
Bookshop
plus backstage and rehearsal footage

The Secret Policeman’s Ball – The Complete Edition (volume 1)
Amnesty International DVD2254/1 (2002)
highlights from Pleasure at Her Majesty’s:
Parrot Sketch
T.E. Lawrence
Spunk
Happy Darling
Miner
Courtroom Sketch
You Say Potato
Protest Song
The Last Supper
Funky Gibbon
Telegram

Hamlet
Asp
The Japes Lecture
Appeal
So That’s The Way You Like It
I’m a Lumberjack
highlights from The Mermaid Frolics:
Making Love
Queen Mary
Original Honky-Tonk Night-Train
Words … and Things
E.L. Wisty
African Customs Post
After You’ve Gone
Hamlet
Forgive Me
John Geilgud Interviews Pieter de Hoogh
Seville
Bookshop
At the Hop

Audios

A Poke In The Eye (With A Sharp Stick)
Transatlantic LP TRA 331
A Brief Introduction (Cleese)
Asp (Cook & Fortune)
Happy, Darling? (Bron & Fortune)
The Last Supper (Cleese & Lynn)
Telegram (Bennett)
Funky Gibbon (Brooke-Taylor/Garden/Oddie)
Appeal (Bron)
Court Room Sketch (The Pythons plus Cook)
Portraits From Memory (Miller)
You Say Potato (Bird & Fortune)
Baby Talk (Bron & Fortune)
So That’s The Way You Like It (Bennett/Cook/Miller/T Jones)

The Complete Poke In The Eye (With A Sharp Stick)
Castle 2CD ESDCD 153, double-cassette ESDMC 153
features the above tracks plus previously unreleased items:
Pet Shop (Cleese & Palin)
T.E. Lawrence (Bennett)
Protest Song (Innes)
A Few Words from Idi Amin (Bird)
Siblings (Fortune & Bron)
Cactus In My ‘Y’ Fronts (Brooke-Taylor/Garden/Oddie)
Argument Clinic (The Pythons)
Mummy, Mummy, Mummy (Brooke-Taylor/Garden/Oddie)
Au Pair (Bron)
Spunk (Humphries)
Audition (alternate version of You Say Potato) (Bird & Bron)
Sick Man’s Blues (Brooke-Taylor/Garden/Oddie)
Crunchy Frog (The Pythons)
Miner (Cook)

The Dead Parrot Society
Rhino CD R211M9
features a number of A Poke In The Eye tracks:
The Dead Parrot (aka Pet Shop) (Cleese & Palin)
Court Room Sketch (The Pythons plus Cook)
Memoirs of a Miner (aka Miner) (Cook)
Protest Song (Innes)
Happy, Darling? (Bron & Fortune)
Crunchy Frog (The Pythons)
The Audition (aka You Say Potato) (Bird & Fortune)
The Penultimate Supper (aka The Last Supper) (Cleese & Lynn)
Argument Clinic (The Pythons)
The Lumberjack Song (Palin & Company)
+ assorted other Amnesty, Private Eye and related material

 

The Mermaid Frolics (an Evening without Bernard Miles)
Mermaid Theatre on May 8 l977
featuring Pete Atkin, The Bowles Brothers Band, Connie Booth, John Cleese, Peter Cook, Julie Covington, Des Jones, Terry Jones, Jonathan Miller, Peter Ustinov and John Williams.
Directed by Terry Jones.
ITV screened a 60 minute highlights show on September 10 1977

Video

The Secret Policeman’s Private Parts
US Media/NTSC, Supreme/PAL 80 min
features two items from The Mermaid Frolics
Bookshop (Cleese & Booth)
Forgive Me (T Jones)

DVDs

The Secret Policeman’s Early Bits
Umbrella DVD DAVID 0025 (2001)
includes:
John Geilgud Interviews Pieter de Hoogh
Bookshop

plus highlights from Pleasure at Her Majesty’s

The Secret Policeman’s Ball – The Complete Edition (volume 1)
Amnesty International DVD2254/1 (2002)
includes:
Making Love
Queen Mary
Original Honky-Tonk Night-Train
Words … and Things
E.L. Wisty
African Customs Post
After You’ve Gone
Hamlet
Forgive Me
John Geilgud Interviews Pieter de Hoogh
Seville
Bookshop
At the Hop
plus highlights from Pleasure at Her Majesty’s

Audio

The Mermaid Frolics
Polydor LP 2384 101, cassette 3192 450
E.L. Wisty from Beyond the Veil (Cook)
Bookshop (Cleese & Booth)
Queen Mary and Pieter de Hoogh (Ustinov)
Forgive Me (T Jones)
Words … And Things (Cleese & Miller)
The Miner (Cook) # from “A Poke In The Eye”
Oratorio (Ustinov)
plus musical items by Covington, Atkin, The Bowles Brothers Band and Williams.

 

The Secret Policeman’s Ball
Her Majesty’s Theatre on June 27, 28, 29 and 30 1979
featuring Rowan Atkinson, Chris Beetles, Eleanor Bron, Rob Buckman, The Ken Campbell Roadshow, John Cleese, Billy Connolly, Peter Cook, John Fortune, Neil Innes, Clive James, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Tom Robinson, Pete Townshend, John Williams and guest appearances by Melvyn Bragg, Mike Brearley, Anna Ford and Clive Jenkins.
Directed by John Cleese.
ITV screened a 60 minute highlights show on December 22 1979

Video

The Secret Policeman’s Ball
Columbia-Tristar/PAL (95 mins), Umbrella DVD DAVID 0006 * (* minus the Connolly tracks)
Interesting Facts (Cleese & Cook)
Apology Telegrams (James)
Pregnancy Test (Cook & Bron)
School Master (Atkinson)
Cheese Shop (Cleese/Palin/Beetles/Buckman)
Sensation Seekers (Ken Campbell Roadshow)
The Country And Western Supersong (Connolly)
Confession (Bron)
Pianist (Atkinson)
The Name’s The Game (Cleese/Jones/Ford/Jenkins/Brearley)
Entirely A Matter For You (Cook)
Scotsmen In Rome (Connolly)
Four Yorkshiremen (Atkinson/Cleese/Jones/Palin)
The End Of The World (Cook & Company)
plus musical items by Townshend, Williams, and Robinson,
and a merchandising advert by Cook, Cleese & Connolly

Audio

The Secret Policeman’s Ball
Island LP ILPS 9601, cassette ICT 9601
Interesting Facts (Cleese & Cook)
The Country And Western Supersong (Connolly)
How Do You Do It? (Palin & Jones)
School Master (Atkinson)
Pregnancy Test (Cook & Bron)
The Name’s The Game(Cleese/Jones/Brearley/Jenkins/Ford/Bragg)
Stake Your Claim (Palin & Atkinson)
Entirely A Matter For You (Cook)
Cheese Shop (Cleese & Palin)
Please (Bron & Fortune)
Four Yorkshiremen (Cleese/Palin/Jones/Atkinson)
Two Little Boys In Blue (Connolly)
The End Of The World (Cook & Company)
* a separate release Music From The Secret Policeman’s Ball (Island LP and cassette) featured musical items by Townshend, Robinson, Innes and Williams.

 

The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane on September 9, 10, 11 and 12 1981
featuring Clive Anderson, Rowan Atkinson, Jeff Beck, Alan Bennett, Martin Bergman, John Bird, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Jasper Carrott, Graham Chapman, Eric Clapton, John Cleese, Phil Collins, Billy Connolly, Donovan, John Fortune, Bob Geldof, Barry Humphries, Neil Innes, Chris Langham, Jimmy Mulville, Griff Rhys Jones, Alexei Sayle, Pamela Stephenson, Sting, John Wells and Victoria Wood.
Directed by Ronald Eyre (assisted by John Cleese).

Video

The New Secret Policeman’s Other Ball
Columbia-Tristar/PAL (90 mins), Umbrella DVD DAVID 0007
A Word Of Thanks (Cleese & Company)
Beekeeping (Atkinson & Cleese)
What’s On In Stoke Newington (Sayle) * split into 2 parts
Denis The Menace (Wells)
Reading The Riot Act (Langham)
The Royal Australian Prostate Foundation (Humphries)
Australian Motor Insurance Claims (Carrott)
I’ve Had It Up To Here With Men (Wood)
Top Of The Form (Cleese/Atkinson/Bird/Brooke-Taylor/Chapman/Fortune/Rhys Jones)
Ronnie (Wells)
Men’s Talk (Bennett & Fortune)
Clothes Off (Chapman/Cleese/Stephenson)(* omitted from the Umbrella DVD)
Overture (Atkinson)
plus musical items by Sting, Collins, Donovan and Geldof,
and merchandising by Michael Palin (who wasn’t in the show)

Audio

The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball
Springtime-Island LP HAHA 6003, cassette CHACHA 6003
A Word Of Thanks (Cleese & Company)
Road Safety (Atkinson)
Australian Motor Insurance Claims (Carrott)
Clothes Off (Cleese/Stephenson/Chapman)
Had It Up To Here (Wood)
Men’s Talk (Bennet & Fortune)
What’s On In Stoke Newington (Sayle)
The Royal Australian Prostate Foundation (Humphries)
Denis The Menace (Wells)
Beekeeping (Atkinson & Cleese)
Song In A French Accent (Innes)
Divorce Service (Atkinson/Rhys Jones/Stephenson/Fortune)
Reading The Riot Act (Langham)
Top Of The Form (CIeese/Atkinson/Fortune/Rhys Jones/Brooke-Taylor/Bird/Chapman)
Drinking (Connolly)

The Complete Secret Policeman’s Other Ball
Island 2CD ESDCD 152, double-cassette ESDMC 152
features the above tracks, plus previously unreleased items:
The Singing Superstar (Humphries)
International Weightlifting (Rhys Jones & Company)
How To Get Out Of Your Head (Sayle)
What We Find (Wood)
A Severe Depression (Langham)
President Reagen’s Big One (Wells)
Confessions Of A Van Driver (Carrott)
Chekhov And The Gorilla (Bird/Fortune/Langham)
Apeman (Innes)
Everything’s Coming Out Roses (Langham)
A Song For Princess Di (Wood)
Man In A Glass Box (Sayle)
Seance With A Tit (Stephenson)
More Drinking (Connolly)
* a separate release Music From The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball (Springtime-Island LP and cassette) featured musical items by Sting, Beck, Clapton, Geldof, Collins and Donovan.

Dead Parrot Society
(Springtime-Rhino CD R2 71049)
features one track from The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball:
Top Of The Form (Cleese & Company)
plus the soundtracks of TV and theatrical advertisements for the U.S. movie release of the concert, performed by Graham Chapman (as a representative of ‘The Oral Majority’)

Book

Thc Secret Policeman’s Other Ball
Methuen large-size paperback
contains scripts, photos and song lyrics from the concerts.

 

The Secret Policeman’s Third Ball
London Palladium on March 26, 27, 28 and 29 1987
featuring Joan Armatrading, Aswad, Chet Atkins, Joy Behart, Paul Brady, Richard Branson, Rory Bremner, Jackson Browne, Kate Bush, John Cleese, Phil Cool, Robbie Coltrane, Andy de la Tour, Duran Duran, Ben Elton, Erasure, Craig Ferguson, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, Peter Gabriel, Paul Gambaccini, Bob Geldof, Dave Gilmour, Gareth Hale and Norman Pace, Lenny Henry, Jools Holland, Nigel Kennedy, Nik Kershaw, Mark Knopfler, Warren Mitchell, Yousso N’Dour, Bill Oddie, Emo Philips, Courtney Pine, Lou Reed, Jonathan Ross, Andrew Sachs, Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones, Spitting Image, Loudon Wainwright 111, The Who Dares Wins Team, Working Week, World Party and Paula Yates.
Directed by Ken O’Neill.

Video

The Secret Policeman’s Third Ball – The Comedy
Virgin VVD 271, Umbrella DVD DAVID 0020
Spitting Image (2 segments)
Phil Cool
Hale And Pace
Lenny Henry (2 segments)
Fry and Laurie (with John Cleese)
Craig Ferguson
French and Saunders
Rory Bremner
Smith and Jones
Ben Elton
Ruby Wax (with Henry/Geldof/Coltrane/Cleese)
* a separate release The Secret Policeman’s Third Ball – The Music (Virgin VVD 210/PAL) featured musical items from the concert.

Audio

The Secret Policeman’s Third Ball – The Comedy
Virgin LP V 2459, cassette TCV 2459, CD CDV 2459
Mike Hurley (as ‘Bill Bore’) and Chris Langham
Phil Cool
Emo Philips
Spitting Image
Hale and Pace (as ‘The Two Rons’)
Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones
Lenny Henry
French and Saunders
Andrew Sachs (as ‘Manuel’)
Warren Mitchell (as ‘Alf Garnett’)
Rory Bremner
Ben Elton
Mike Hurley (as ‘Bill Bore’)

Book

The Secret Policeman’s Third Ball
Sidgwick & Jackson large paperback contains scripts, photos and song lyrics from the concerts.

 

The Secret Policeman’s Biggest Ball
Cambridge Theatre on August 30 to September 2 1989
featuring John Bird, Rory Bremner, Kathy Burke, John Cleese, Robbie Coltrane, Peter Cook, Adrian Edmondson, Ben Elton, Dawn French, Lenny Henry, Jools Holland, Chris Langham, Dudley Moore, Jimmy Mulville, Steve Nallon, Michael Palin, Roland Rivron, William Rushton, Jennifer Saunders, Spitting Image and John Williams.
Directed by John Cleese and Jennifer Saunders.
ITV screened 60 minutes of highlights on October 28 1989

Video

The Secret Policeman’s Biggest Ball
Central Video VC 6096/PAL, Columbia-Tristar CVR 16921/PAL (95 mins), Umbrella DVD DAVID 0022
Pet Shop #2 (Cleese & Palin)
Bad Jokes (Henry)
Royal Breakfast (Spitting Image)
The Frog And Peach (Cook & Moore)
The Way We Were (Burke)
Argument Clinic (Palin/French/Langham/Cleese)
Cat Flaps (Henry)
Jazz Interlude (Holland & Rivron)
William Tell Trick (Coltrane & Edmondson)
Improvisation (French & Saunders)
The Last Supper (Cleese & Edmondson)
Biggles Goes To See Bruce Springsteen (Palin & Cleese)
The Politics System (Bird/Nallon/Bremner)
The Poem (Fry & Laurie)
Undercover Agent (Langham)
Crunchy Frog (Coltrane/Henry/Mulville/French/Saunders)
Guitar Solo (Williams/Saunders/Cleese)
One Leg Too Few (Cook & Moore)
Fast Food And Drink (Elton)
Contraception (French & Saunders)
Goodbyee (Cook & Moore & Company)

 

The Famous Compere’s Police Dog (Bites Back)
Duke Of York’s Theatre on January 13, 20 and 27 1991
featuring Jo Brand, Les Bubb, Otis Canneloni, Julian Clary, Lee Cornes, Kevin Day, Jenny Eclair, Simon Fanshawe, Stephen Frost, Jeremy Hardy, John Hegley, Kir Hollerbach, John Lenahan, Sean Murphy, Steve Rawlings, Michael Redmond, Arthur Smith, Mark Thomas
ITV screened 60 minutes of highlights as Barf Bites Back on August 24 1991

Video

The Famous Compere’s Police Dog
Pickwick PAL PCM 2158 (88 min)
Arthur Smith
Michael Redmond
Kit Hollerbach
Otis Canneloni
Jeremy Hardy
Kevin Day
John Hegley
John Lenehan
Jo Brand
Les Bubb
Stephen Frost
Mark Thomas
Steve Rawlings
Sean Murphy (with Stephen Frost)
Lee Cornes
Jenny Éclair
Simon Fanshawe
Julian Clary

 

Amnesty’s Big 30
2-hour telethon from Central’s Nottingham studios screened by ITV on December 28 1991
hosted by Alexei Sayle, Jonathan Ross, Paula Yates and Cathy MacGowan, featuring Rick Astley, Keith Chegwin, Julian Clary, Steve Coogan, Phil Cornwell, Jason Donovan, EMF, Dave Gilmour & His Band, Daryl Hall, Jools Holland & His Band, David St. Hubbins and Derek Smalls (of ‘Spinal Tap’), Tom Jones, Mark Little, Mike McShane, Morrissey, Emo Phillips, Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis, Rowland Rivron, Seal, Lisa
Stansfield, David A. Stewart, Frank Skinner, Andrew Strong, Trev and Simon, Kim Wilde
and pre-recorded links by Rosanne Barr, John Cleese, Angus Deayton, Ian Hislop and Paul Merton, Gregor Fisher, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, Gareth Hale and Norman Pace, Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones and Spitting Image.

Video

Amnesty International’s Big 30 – The Comedy Concert
Virgin VIR 767/PAL (60 mins)
Mike McShane
Emo Phillips
Keith Chegwin and the Greatest Show On Legs
David St. Hubbins and Derek Smalls
Phil Cornwell and Steve Coogan
Spinal Tap
Frank Skinner
Mark Little
Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis
Trevor and Simon
Tom Jones
plus links by Spitting Image, Reeves and Mortimer, French and Saunders, Deayton/Hislop/Merton, Hale and Pace, Smith and Jones, and Gregor Fisher,
Amnesty case histories by Cleese and Barr,
and footage from previous concerts by Fry and Laurie (and Cleese), Elton and Henry.
* a separate video Amnesty International’s Big 30 – The Music (Virgin/PAL) featured a selection of musical items from the telethon.

Amnesty International’s Gala of Irish Comedy/So You Think You’re Irish
Gaiety Theatre Dublin, February 2 1997
Hosted by Barry Murphy, featuring Kevin McAleer, Kevin Gildea, Brendan O’Carroll, Owen O’Neill, Pauline McLynn, Dermot Morgan
ITV screened 80 minutes of highlights on March 17 1997

Amnesty International’s Gala of Irish Comedy/So You Think You’re Irish 2
Gaiety Theatre Dublin, February 1 1998
Hosted by Barry Murphy
ITV screened three 30 minute highlights compilations from August 11 to 25 1998:
#1: Brendan Dempsey, Pauline McLynn, Tommy Tiernan
#2: Kevin Gildea, Ian Coppinger, Eddie Bannon, Owen O’Neill, Dylan Moran, Milo O’Shea
#3: Dara O’Briain, Eddie Bannon, Ed Byrne

 

We Know Where You Live. Live!
Wembley Arena, June 3 2001
Hosted by Eddie Izzard, featuring Phill Jupitis, Sean Lock, Richard Blackwood, Harry Hill, Jeremy Hardy, Paul Whitehouse, Harry Enfield, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Kulvinder Ghir, Meera Syal, Nina Wadia, Dave Lamb, Dom Joly, Simon Day, Jonathan Ross, Vic Reeves, Alan Rickman
Channel 4 screened 100 minutes of highlights on June 16 2001 

DVD

We Know Where You Live
REL dvd 104937-1 (94 min)
Eddie Izzard
Phill Jupitus
Jonathan Ross
Happy Birthday: Michael Stipe
Harry Hill
Paul Whitehouse and Harry Enfield
Badly Drawn Boy
Simon Day
Jeremy Hardy
Happy Birthday: Dawn French
Sanjeev Bhaskar, Kulvinder Ghir, Meera Syal and Nina Wadia
Happy Birthday: Emma Thompson
Richard Blackwood
Happy Birthday: Kate Moss
U2
Paul Whitehouse and Harry Enfield
Happy Birthday: Colin Firth
Stereophonics
Happy Birthday: Tim Roth
Jonathan Ross and Dom Jolly
Sean Lock
Happy Birthday: Julie Walters
Tom Jones
Happy Birthday: Richard E. Grant
The Four Yorkshiremen
Happy Birthday: Jack Dee
Prisoners of Conscience
Uncut

 

Stop! You’re Killing Me
Vicar Street Theatre Dublin, November 28 to 30 2004
featuring Tommy Tiernan, Dara O’Briain, Jason Byrne, Ardal O’Hanlon, Eddie Bannon, Des Bishop, Dylan Moran, Mark Geary

DVD

Stop! You’re Killing Me
REL DVD 105937-9 (74 min)
Tommy Tiernan
Dara O’Briain
Jason Byrne
Ardal O’Hanlon
Eddie Bannon
Des Bishop
Dylan Moran
Mark Geary

 

The Secret Policeman’s Ball (The Ball at the Hall)
Royal Albert Hall, October 14 2006
Hosted by Eddie Izzard, featuring Ronni Ancona, David Armand, Jo Brand, Russell Brand, Jon Culshaw, Omid Djalili, Julia Davis, Nitin Ganatra, Shobna Gulati, Rhys Ifans, Natalie Imbruglia, Kate Isitt, Andrew Maxwell, Dylan Moran, Al Murray, The Mighty Boosh, Graham Norton, Sarah Silverman, Jessica Stevenson, Meera Syal and Shaun Williamson with cameos by Chevy Chase, Seth Green, Jimmy Fallon and Richard E. Grant.
Channel 4 screened highlights on October 31 2006

DVD

 

The Secret Policeman’s Ball 2008
Royal Albert Hall, October 4 2008
featuring Frank Skinner, Alan Carr, Graham Norton, Sean Lock, Kristen Schaal, Fearne Cotton, Matt Berry, Katherine Parkinson, Mitchell and Webb, Jason Manford, Shappi Khorsandi, Russell Howard, Russell Peters.
Channel 4 screened 90 minutes of highlights on October 5 2008

 

COMPILATION SETS

DVDs

THE SECRET POLICEMAN’S BALL – THE COMPLETE COLLECTION
Ilc 4 disc set (region 2) 2005
disc 1:
Pleasure at Her Majesty’s
Mermaid Frolics
disc 2:
The Secret Policeman’s Ball
The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball
disc 3:
The Secret Policeman’s Third Ball
The Secret Policeman’s Biggest Ball
disc 4:
Amnesty International’s Big 30
The Secret Policeman’s Ball (Music Edition)

THE SECRET POLICEMAN’S BALL ANNIVERSARY EDITION
Umbrella 6 disc set DAVID0655 (PAL regions) 2007

THE SECRET POLICEMAN’S BALLS
Shout Factory 3 disc set (NTSC region 1) 2009
disc 1:
Pleasure at Her Majesty’s
The Secret Policeman’s Ball
plus bonus sketches from Mermaid Frolics (Bookshop, From Beyond the Veil, Words and Things)
disc 2:
The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball
The Secret Policeman’s Third Ball
disc 3:
The Secret Policeman’s Biggest Ball
plus bonus 25th anniversary documentary: Remember the Secret Policeman’s Balls (2004)

CD

Best of the Balls
Laughing Stock 2CD LAF CD 15
Dame Edna Everage – Royal Australian Prostate Foundation (4)
Lenny Henry – Delbert Wilkins
(5)
Rowan Atkinson – Road Safety
(4)
Jasper Carrott – Australian Motor Insurance Claims
(4)
John Cleese and Jonathan Lynn – The Last Supper
(1)
Alan Bennett – Telegram
(1)
Victoria Wood – Had It Up to Here
(4)
Smith and Jones – Head to Head
(5)
Ben Elton – Stand-up
(6)
Spitting Image – Royal Poll Tax
(6)
Peter Cook and Dudley Moore – Tarzan
(6)
French and Saunders – Actors
(5)
Cleese/Palin/Atkinson/Jones – Four Yorkshiremen
(3)
Neil Innes – Protest Song
(1)
Griff Rhys Jones – International Weightlifting
(4)
Peter Cook and John Cleese – Interesting Facts
(3)
Robbie Coltrane and Ade Edmondson – William Tell Trick
(6)
Eleanor Bron and Peter Cook – Balloon
(3)
Michael Palin and Terry Jones – How Do You Do It?
(3)
Monty Python – Pet Shop
(1)
Billy Connolly – Two Little Boys in Blue
(3)
Alexei Sayle – What’s on in Stoke Newington
(4)
Lenny Henry – Trevor Nettleford
(6)
Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie – Headmaster and Schoolboy sketch
(6)
Peter Cook – Miner
(1)
John Cleese and Michael Palin – Death of the Parrott
(6)
(1) from Pleasure at Her Majesty’s
(3) from The Secret Policeman’s Ball
(4) from The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball
(5) from The Secret Policeman’s Third Ball
(6) from The Secret Policeman’s Biggest Ball

 

2. Comic Relief Red Nose Day

Following on from Bob Geldof’s Live Aid fundraisers (wherein music artists raised money to combat poverty in Africa), in 1986 Britain’s leading comedy performers appeared in three concerts at London’s Shaftesbury Theatre under the banner of Comic Relief.  It was the start of a longrunning series of regularly scheduled events which continue into the 21st century as a biennial telethon on BBC1.

Rowan Atkinson, Lenny Henry, the Young Ones, French and Saunders, Billy Connolly and Ben Elton have been involved since those first concerts (in which Bob Geldof also appeared), with Griff Rhys Jones and Jonathan Ross also regularly hosting the television events.

The first of these occurred two years after the concerts, and from 1989 was scheduled every two years, usually in mid-March. It subsequently embraced the name Red Nose Day as a clever merchandising gimmick, with a variety of plastic noses being made available over the years, not only for facial adornment but also to be found on the bonnets of cars and other locations.

Traditionally taking over BBC1’s Friday evening schedule the marathon event featured a stellar lineup from the comedy and acting fraternity (along with top political and sporting names). To ensure the humour was not interrupted, when the station presented it regular nightly news bulletin (at 9:00pm, later 10:00pm) Comic Relief switched to BBC2 for a half hour.

With the BBC’s involvement came a plethora of special editions of popular sitcoms (including The New Statesman, The Vicar of Dibley, Absolutely Fabulous, Only Fools and Horses and One Foot in the Grave) and game and panel shows (Blind Date, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Have I Got News For You, Blankety Blank). Characters from such shows as Little Britain, Alan Partridge and Ali G also lent their services to the cause.

Rowan Atkinson in particular has been a mainstay of the event since the start appearing in the guise of his regular characters Black Adder and Mr. Bean, and later assuming the roles of Doctor Who and Spiderplant Man. Other targets for pastiche have included the dramas Harry Potter, Hetty Wainthropp, Cracker, Prime Suspect and Ballykissangel.

Comic Relief has also profited from a series of hit singles (with accompanying music videos), many of which became enormous sellers. The initial offering, released to coincide with the 1986 concerts, was a new version of the Cliff Richard’s Living Doll (where he was joined by the cast of The Young Ones). It paved the way for recordings by the likes of Mel Smith, French & Saunders, Hale & Pace and Mr. Bean, each joining established music artists for the release.

 

The following is an itemisation of the principal items included in the concerts and the subsequent BBC1 telethons …

 

Comic Relief
concert staged at the Shaftesbury Theatre April 4 to 6 1986
(90 minutes of highlights, preceded by a Yes Prime Minister introduction was screened on BBC1 April 25 1986)

Video

Comic Relief
Virgin Video VIR 183 (1986)
Rowan Atkinson – Introduction
Spitting Image – Prince Andrew
French and Saunders – Friendly Advice
Howard Jones and Afrodiziak – Life in One Day
Rowan Atkinson – Cana
Rik Mayall – Do You Love Me?
The Young Ones and Bob Geldof – Livin’ Doll
Spitting Address – Fuckin’ Bob Geldoff
Stephen Fry, Bob Geldof, Midge Ure – Merchant Banker
Lenny Henry (as Theophilus P. Wildebeest) – Big Love
Rowan Atkinson – Schoolmaster
Kate Bush – Breathing
Nigel Planer (as Neil) – A Bit of a Downer
Ben Elton – Nudist Beach
Rowan Atkinson and Kate Bush – Do Bears
Lenny Henry and Frank Bruno – Romeo and Juliet and Harry
Billy Connolly – Dangerous Place
Bob Geldof and Midge Ure – Feed the World

Audio 

Comic Relief Presents … Utterly, Utterly Live
WEA LP WX 51 (1986)
Spitting Image’s Royal Address
Lenny Henry – Big Love
Billy Connolly – A Dangerous Place
Kate Bush – Breathing
Lenny Henry and Frank Bruno – Romeo and Juliet and Harry
The Young Ones and Cliff Richard – Livin’ Doll
Neil (Nigel Planer) – A Bit of a Downer
Ben Elton – The Train Set
Howard Jones and Afrodiziak – Life in One Day
Stephen Fry, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure – Merchant Banker
Rowan Atkinson and Kate Bush – Do Bears
French and Saunders – Friendly Advice
Rowan Atkinson and Angus Deayton – Fatal Beatings
Bob Geldof and Midge Ure – Feed the Word

 

Comic Relief
(BBC1 February 5 1988, 450 min)
73 of a Kind
Blackadder
The New Statesman

 

A Night of Comic Relief 2
(BBC1 March 10 1989, 390 min)
The Last Waltz
The Night of the Comic Dead
Hot Metal
Whose Line Is It Anyway?

 

Comic Relief
(BBC1 March 15 1991, 395 min)
Four Birds of a Feather
Mellie at Midnight
Smashie and Nicey
Bad News
Blind Snog
Battle of the Sex Gods

 

Total Relief
(BBC1/BBC2 March 12 1993, 425 min)
Mr. Bean’s Blind Date
Have I Got Sports News For You
One Foot in the Grave
Friday Night Live – Lives Again

 

The Night of Comic Relief
(BBC1/BBC2 March 17 1995, 425 min)
Torvill and Bean
Oliver 2 – Let’s Twist Again
Dawn
Belfast Live

 

Comic Relief
(BBC1/BBC2 March 14 1997, 370 min)
Only Fools and Horses
Prime Cracker
Ballykissdibley
The Empire Strikes Back stage show:
Rowan Atkinson Indian Waiter
The Sugar Lumps

 

Comic Relief’s Debt Wish
(BBC1 August 30 1998, 50 min)
fromBrixtonAcademy (June 4 & 5 1998)

 

Comic Relief: Red Nose Day 99 – The Record Breaker
(BBC1/BBC2 March 12 1999, 460 min)
Dr. Who and the Curse of the Fatal Death (with Rowan Atkinson)
The Vicar of Dibley
Naughty Boys (Men Behaving Badly)
Victoria Wood: Wetty Hainthropp Investigates
Alan Partridge
Have I Got The Buzzcocks
Blind Date

 

Comic Relief presents Big Red Nose Night
(BBC1/BBC2 March 16 2001, 485 min)
Celebrity Big Brother
Billy Connolly streaks round Picadilly Circus
Popstars
Eastenders
Never Mind the Buzzcocks All Over
Ali G with the Beckhams
One Foot in the Grave
My Hero
Gimme, Gimme, Gimme
Marion and Geoff

 

Comic Relief Red Nose Night
(BBC1/BBC2 March 14 2003, 410 min)
Harry Potter and the Secret Chamberpot of Azerbaijan
The Kumars: Spirit in the Sky
University Challenge: Gownies vs. Townies
Lying to Michael Jackson

EastEnders
Auf Wiedersehen, Pet
Ali G at the U.N.
Blankety Blank

  

Comic Relief presents Big Red Nose Night
(BBC1/BBC2 March 11 2005,  min)
Absolutely Fabulous
Little Britain – I Want That One
The Vicar of Dibley
Green Wing
Spiderplant Man

 

Comic Relief presents Big Red Nose Night
(BBC1/BBC2 March 16 2007,  min)
The Vicar of Dibley
The Apprentice
Top Gear of the Pops
Little Britain Live
Catherine Tate (with the P.M., James Bond and on Deal or No Deal)
The Mighty Boosh live

 

Comic Relief presents Big Red Nose Night
(BBC1/BBC2 March 13 2009,  min)
Harry Hill’s TV Burp
The Royle Family
Mamma Mia
Mastermind
The Catherine Tate Show
Little Britain USA
The Apprentice
Gavin and Stacey (with Tom Jones)
The Sarah Jane Adventures (with Ronnie Corbett)

 

Comic Relief presents Big Red Nose Night
(BBC1/BBC2 March 18 2011,  min)
Harry Hill’s Scatty Safari
The Inbetweeners Road Trip
The Celebrity Chef Choir
Alan Partridge’s Mid-Morning Matters
Uptown Downstairs Abbey
EastEnders
Doctor Who

 

(Comedy) Recordings

1986    Living Doll (Cliff Richard and The Young Ones)
1987    Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree (Mel Smith and Kim Wilde)
1989    Help! (Bananarama, French & Saunders and Kathy Burke)
1991    The Stonk (Hale & Pace)
1992    (I Want to Be) Elected (Smear Campaign – featuring Rowan Atkinson as Mr. Bean)
1994    Absolutely Fabulous (Pet Shop Boys, Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley)
2003    Spirit in the Sky (Gareth Gates and The Kumars)
2005    Is This the Way to Amarillo (Tony Christie and Peter Kay)
2009    Barry Islands in the Stream (Ruth Jones & Rob Bryden, Tom Jones and Robin Gibb)

 

Audio

What A Relief!
BBC double cassette ZBBC 1959, CD ZBBC-CD (1997)
Presented by Paul Whitehouse
Romeo And Juliet And Harry (The Frank Bruno Shakespeare Players) — Lenny Henry, Frank Bruno (1986)
Gold Bland Coffee Ad — Peter Howitt, Celia Imrie (10.3.89)
Restaurant — Gorden Kaye, Penelope Keith
Do Bears — Rowan Atkinson, Kate Bush (1986)
Washday Blues Ad
Divorce Service — Rowan Atkinson
Friendly Advice — French & Saunders (1986)
Barry White & Prince Duet — Lenny Henry (12.3.93)
Police Briefing — Gary Waldhorn & Griff Rhys Jones
Prince Charles
Missile Launch — Nicholas Lyndhurst
Vicar
Margery And Joan — Victoria Wood, Julie Walters
The New Statesman At Number 10 (Alan B’Stard Closes Down The BBC) (5.2.88)
One Foot In The Grave: Victor In The Bath (12.3.93)
Silent Order — Penelope Keith, Emma Thompson (10.3.89)
Grandstand — Des Lynam;
Footballer Interview — Rory Bremner, Andy Gray, Melvyn Hayes; Penalty Practice
‘Dawn’ — Dawn French, Victoria Wood (17.3.95)
BT Ad — Nigel Havers
Brian Walden Interviews Gasman — Jim Broadbent
Alan Partridge (17.3.95)
Comic Relief Stunts — Ben Elton
The Train Set — Ben Elton (1986)
A Dangerous Place — Billy Connolly (1986)
Living Doll — Cliff Richard & The Young Ones (1986)
Motor Insurance Claim Forms — Jasper Carrott (5.2.88)
Ken Dodd (10.3.89)
Willie Rushton & Barry Cryer
Greek Tragedies — John Gordon-Sinclair
Griff Rhys Jones & Angus Deayton (12.3.93)
Play It Again Sam — Les Dennis, Derek Griffiths (10.3.89)
The Two Rons — Hale & Pace (10.3.89)
Griff Rhys Jones & Lenny Henry
The Wrong Good Friday — Bob Hoskins, Jimmy Nail
Head To Head — Smith & Jones

 

Videos

Mr. Bean and Comic Relief
London Video 084 990 3 (1992)
features
(I Want to Be) Elected music video
Mr. Bean’s Red Nose Day (sponsored silence)

The Pick Of The Nose!
BBC video BBCV 5963 (1997)
Presented by Jonathan Ross
Mr. Bean’s Red Nose Day (15.3.91)
Breakfast Time — Jeremy Paxman, Sally Magnusson, Michael Grade, Michael Fish
Margery And Joan — Victoria Wood, Julie Walters
BT Ad — Nigel Havers
Miss Marple’s Easiest Case — Angela Thorne
The Unprofessionals — Martin Shaw
Police Briefing — Gary Waldhorn & Griff Rhys Jones
Mr. Bean On Blind Date (12.3.93)
Gold Bland Coffee Ad — Peter Howitt, Celia Imrie (10.3.89)
Casualty with Judith Hann, Kate O’Mara
Top Of The Pops
Phil Collins
Help! — Bananarama with French & Saunders & Kathy Burke (1989)
Living Doll — Cliff Richard & The Young Ones (1986)
Phil Collins
Bohemian Rhapsody — Birds Of A Feather, Fry & Laurie, Red Dwarf et al
Blackadder — The Cavalier Years (5.2.88)
Washing Ad
The Wrong Good Friday — Bob Hoskins, Jimmy Nail
Sportsnight:
Grandstand — Des Lynam
Football Results — Hugh Laurie
Footballer Interview — Rory Bremner, Andy Gray, Melvyn Hayes
Torvill and Bean (17.3.95)
Crimewatch
No News — Martyn Lewis, Moira Stuart
Newsreader — Pamela Stephenson*
The Money Programme — Valerie Singleton, Geoffrey Palmer
Nosenight: Mastermember — Rowan Atkinson
Transmission Shutdown — Chris Barrie (5.2.88)
Love Can Build A Bridge — Cher, Neneh Cherry, Chrissie Hynde
* script in The Utterly, Utterly Amusing And Pretty Damn Definitive Comic Relief Revue Book

Rude For A Reason
BBC video BBCV 6910 (1999)
A Blessing From The Vicar Of Brixton — Rowan Atkinson
Paul Calf (Steve Coogan)
Tim McInnerny — Nudity
The League Of Gentlemen — Aqua Vita
Lee & Herring
Goodness Gracious Me — Jewish Son
Tim McInnerny — Nudity
Smack The Pony — Paula’s Family Tragedy
Kevin Day
Hattie Hayridge
Sir Bernard Chumley (Matt Lucas)
Tim McInnerny — Nudity
Junior Simpson
Billy Bleach (Simon Day)
David Baddiel — Death
The League Of Gentlemen — Tubbs & Edward
Tim McInnerny — Nudity
Sean Lock
Lenny Henry
Ali G
Happy Mondays — Step On

 

DVDs

Seriously Funny!
VCI DVD VFC 41537 (2002)
68 minute compilation of extracts from songs and sketches
Livin’ Doll
Double Acts
Unlikely Songs
Crazy Things We Do
Criminal Records
Interviews
Sport
Hard to Please
Goodness Gracious Me
Nudity
Music Videos
Out-Takes
TV Favourites with a Twist

The Catherine Tate Comic Relief Special
DVD VFD 06760
Lauren – Dr. Who?
Geordie Georgie
Elaine Figgis – Bond Boy
Lauren – Work Experience
Nan – Deal or No Deal

 

Books

THE UTTERLY, UTTERLY MERRY COMIC RELIEF CHRISTMAS BOOK
collection of short stories, photos, cartoons, etc. (Fontana paperback, 1986)

THE UTTERLY, UTTERLY AMUSING AND PRETTY DAMN DEFINITIVE COMIC RELIEF REVUE BOOK
collection of scripts from various stage, radio and television shows (Penguin paperback, 1989)

 

3. Hysteria! (and other AIDS fundraisers)

Following the success of the various Amnesty live concerts and the initial Comic Relief stage show (the previous year) Stephen Fry took the stage at the Victoria Palace in June 1987 to introduce a number of comedy and music performers in an all-star fundraiser called Hysteria! in aid of research into combating the recently identified medical condition called AIDS.

Though not televised, there was a commercial video of the event which led to follow-up concerts in 1989 and 1992 (at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre and London Palladium respectively). Channel 4 televised highlights of both concerts and there were more video releases along with a script book and a CD.

After three Hysteria concerts, the cause then benefited from a stage show (of primarily standup comics) titled filth! (again staged at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre) which was followed by a couple of television fundraisers The Big Snog (in 1995) and Stephen Fry’s Live from the Lighthouse (1998), both aired on Channel 4.

 

Hysteria!
Victoria Palace Theatre on 7th June 1987
starring Rowan Atkinson, Harry Enfield, Fascinating Aida, Stephen Fry, Jeremy Hardy, Patricia Hodge, Jools Holland, Kit Hollerbach, Lesley Joseph, Kit & The Widow, Hugh Laurie, Helen Lederer, Norman Lovett, Bill Oddie, Mel Smith, Ruby Wax, Who Dares Wins
(not televised)

Video

Hysteria!
Palace PVC 2171 A/PVC 4030 A
Stephen Fry — Introduction*
Atkinson, French, Fry, Laurie — Safe Sex Demonstration*
Jeremy Hardy*
Ruby Wax*
Fry & Laurie — Masterclass*
Helen Lederer
Phil Cornwell
Fascinating Aida — Allo! Bonjour, Monsieur!*
Harry Enfield — Stavros*
Kit Hollerbach
Fry, Jonathan Ross, Melvyn Bragg, Jools Holland — Tell The Truth
Kit & The Widow — You Too Can Write A Great West End Score
Who Dares Wins — Bed Sketch*
John Wells — Dear Bill*
Norman Lovett
Jools Holland — “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free”
(* script in Amassed Hysteria book)

 

Hysteria 2
Sadlers Wells Theatre on 18th September 1989
starring Joss Ackland, Clive Anderson, Ed Asner, Rowan Atkinson, John Cleese, Robbie Coltrane, Paul Eddington, Adrian Edmondson, Harry Enfield, Fascinating Aida, Craig Ferguson, Dawn French, Stephen Fry, Dave Gilmour, Jerry Hall, Jeremy Hardy, Lenny Henry, Jools Holland, Kit Hollerbach, Kit & The Widow, Hugh Laurie, Josie Lawrence, Helen Lederer, Norman Lovett, Chris Lynam, Eddi Reader, Vic Reeves, Jonathan Ross, Jennifer Saunders, Tony Slattery, Jimmy Somerville, Spitting Image, Jimmy Tingle, Tina Turner, Richard Vranch, Ruby Wax, Who Dares Wins
Channel 4 screened 2 hours of highlights on December 1 1989

Videos 

Hysteria 2!
Palace PVC 2173 A
Stephen Fry — Again*
Who Dares Wins — Condoms
Clive Anderson introduces Harry Enfield — Sir Harry Stocracy*
Josie Lawrence & Richard Vranch — Toothbrush
Ruby Wax — Benefits
French & Saunders — School Sketch*
Norman Lovett
Lenny Henry — My Girl
Stephen Fry Fills In For A Back-Stage Cock-Up*
Rowan Atkinson & Hugh Laurie — A Small Rewrite*
Kit Hollerbach*
Robbie Coltrane, Jerry Hall — Bovril
Fry & Laurie — Gay*
Helen Lederer*
Kit & The Widow — Arise, Sir Jase*
Adrian Edmondson — Adrian Edmondson’s Dirty Joke*
Chris Lynam*
John Cleese & Tina Turner*
Tina Turner — Steamy Windows
Stephen Fry — Dedication
(* script in Amassed Hysteria book)

More Hysteria Too!
Palace PVC 4070 A
Stephen Fry — Again* [as on Hysteria 2!]
Ackland, Asner, Eddington, Fry — Audition For Introduction
Rowan Atkinson — Tom, Dick And Harry*
Hugh Laurie — Mystery*
Jeremy Hardy
Jonathan Ross introduces Jimmy Tingle
Clive Anderson*
Enfield, Ferguson, Jerry Hall — Jerry’s Lucky Night*
Jonathan Ross, Vic Reeves — Theatre Safety Officer
Vic Reeves — I Remember Punk Rock*
Stephen Fry, Lenny Henry — Sex Counsellor*
Jimmy Somerville — “You Make Me Feel Mighty Real”
Tony Slattery, Richard Vranch — Life On The Stage
Spitting Image — Roger Moore, Dustin Hoffman
Chris Lynam
Fascinating Aida with Marie Helvin — Lieder*
Ruby Wax intros Fry, Edmondson, French, Coltrane — Safe Sex Demonstration [same script as in Hysteria!]
Tina Turner — “I Don’t Wanna Lose You”
Stephen Fry — Dedication [as on Hysteria 2!]
(* script in Amassed Hysteria book)

 

Hysteria 3
London Palladium June 30 1992
starring Rowan Atkinson, Morwenna Banks, Sharon Benson, Billy Bragg, Melvyn Bragg, Sam Brown, Julian Clary, Adrian Edmondson, Ben Elton, Craig Ferguson, Anna Ford, Dawn French, Emma Freud, Stephen Fry, Dave Gilmour, Nigel Havers, Lenny Henry, Jools Holland, Eddie Izzard, Hugh Jelly, Elton John, Kit & The Widow, Hugh Laurie, Josie Lawrence, Helen Lederer, Miriam Margolyes, Mike McShane, Bob Mortimer, Alison Moyet, The Pink Singers, Nigel Planer, Vic Reeves, Jonathan Ross, Tony Slattery, Jennifer Saunders, The 60s Tiller Girls, Ruby Wax, Steven Wright
Channel 4 screened 2 hours of highlights on October 12 1992

Video

The Best of Hysteria 3!
PMI video MVN 9913183
The 60s Tiller Girls
Stephen Fry — Introduction
Vic Reeves & Bob Mortimer
Morwenna Banks — Diseasure
Lenny Henry — “Take Me In Your Arms”
Nigel Planer — Nicholas Craig: I, An Actor
Fry & Laurie — The Hedge Sketch
Helen Lederer — Being Happy
Julian Clary — Celebrity Sticky Moments
Hugh Laurie — Army Officer
Jools Holland & Sam Brown — “Together Again”
Ruby Wax — Childbirth
Mike McShane & Tony Slattery — Brief Encounter
Steven Wright
Beverley Craven — “Promise Me”
Eddie Izzard — The Wilderness Years
Atkinson, Ferguson, Freud, Fry, Laurie — Condom Language
Tony Slattery, Ruby Wax — Award Acceptance Speech
Jools Holland & the Hysteria Allstars
Ben Elton — Contraception
Rowan Atkinson, Elton John — Intelligent Interview
Stephen Fry — Goodnight
Edwin Starr — “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free”

DVD

Hysteria 3!
Laughing Stock DVD 0159
French and Saunders
The Tiller Girls and Stephen Fry
Mike McShane and Tony Slattery
Ruby Wax
Lenny Henry
Julian Clary
Morwenna Banks
Fry and Laurie
Josie Lawrence and Richard Vranch
Eddie Izzard
Beverley Craven
Steven Wright
Condom Language
Somewhere
Hugh Laurie
Rowan Atkinson and Elton John
Ben Elton
Jools Holland and Sam Brown
French and Saunders
Edwin Starr

Audio

The Best of Hysteria 3!
EMI CD CDP 7980212
Stephen Fry – Introduction to Hysteria 3!
Billy Bragg – Sexuality
Ben Elton – Contraception
Helen Lederer – Being Happy
Jules Holland & Sam Brown – Together Again
Nicholas Craig (Nigel Planer) – I, an Actor
Ruby Wax/Tony Slattery – Awards Acceptance Speech
Eddie Izzard – The Wilderness Years
Lenny Henry – Take Me in Your Arms
Julian Clary – Celebrity Sticky Moments
Steven Wright – Why Fish Wear Socks
Rowan Atkinson Interviews Elton John
Edwin Starr – I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free

Book

Amassed Hysteria!
Introduced by Stephen Fry, with a collection of scripts from the first two concerts
(Penguin paperback, 1991)

 

filth!
Sadler’s Wells Theatre, 1994
(not televised) 

video

filth!
Pickwick video PV 2243 (90 min)
Harry Enfield
Arthur Smith
Mark Thomas
Steve Coogan
Jeremy Hardy
Ian Cognito
Jo Brand
Mark Lamarr
Raw Sex
Jeff Green
Rhona Cameron
Eddie Izzard
Lily Savage
Greg Proops
Julian Clary
Ben Elton
John Hegley

 

The Big Snog
Featuring Eddie Izzard, Steve Coogan, Lenny Henry, Harry Enfield, Julian Clary, Dale Winton
Channel 4 on October 25 1995 (90 min)

 

Stephen Fry’s Live from the Lighthouse
Hosted by Stephen Fry, featuring Hugh Laurie, Graham Norton, Julian Clary, Phil Cornwell and John Sessions, Sacha Baron Cohen (as Ali G), Harry Enfield, Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones, Michael Palin, Simon Pegg, Noel Gallagher
Channel 4 on November 28 1998 (205 min)

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