The Baldy Man (ITV, 1995-1999)
Recently on here I wrote about the BBC2 comedy sketch show Naked Video, which was successful enough for there to be two spin-offs, both of which starred Gregor Fisher. One was the long-running Rab C Nesbitt, but I thought that I would take a look at the less remembered The Baldy Man. Along with appearing in Naked Video, this was a character that had gained further fame in a series of adverts for Hamlet cigars, and in 1995 they got their own series on ITV.
Every edition of The Baldy Man featured two stories that starred our hapless hero with the rather unconvincing combover (some of them were written by Jack Docherty and Moray Hunter of Absolutely fame), and there was also a small regular cast who played various supporting roles. All of these stories contained no dialogue (apart from a few grunts and groans), with laughs coming from the physical comedy as the situations became increasingly silly, so if you wanted to watch a comedy where the main character’s catchphrase was “erarrhaaheehh!” then this was the one for you.
Stories included things like Baldy becoming a model, having a bath, trying to get fit, visiting a cafe, and so on, all accompanied by some excessive laughter. It seemed that Baldy was rather fond of falling over, and he also spent a lot of time taking his clothes off in various episodes. I do remember watching this at the time and finding it rather funny, but there was just one problem, the ground had already been broken.
The Baldy Man was always going to take second place with viewers to the much more successful Mr Bean, which had a similar mix of dialogue-free comedy, and became popular around the world. There was also a problem with the scheduling. There were two series, and one edition in the first series was not shown at all. ITV treated the second series even worse, it was scheduled very erratically, usually only turning up on Bank Holidays in the afternoon over a period of two years (although the Scottish ITV region showed it regularly).
Only a couple of the 13 episodes of The Baldy Man have been released on VHS, and none at all on DVD, and I would welcome a release as I can’t remember the last time that it was repeated on TV. It’s a surprise to realise that the first series was almost 25 years ago now, and I did enjoy it, but despite its good efforts it’s unfortunately ended up as just another one of those on the long list of comedy shows on ITV in the 90s that were a big flop.