The Bob Monkhouse Show (BBC2, 1983-1986, BBC1, 1986)
By 1983, Bob Monkhouse had been hosting Family Fortunes on ITV for a few years. After this, he decided to leave, and go to the BBC. Among the shows that he hosted in the 80s were the great game shows Bob’s Full House and Bob Says Opportunity Knocks, but there was also this one, which was a comedy show. I don’t remember it from the time, but I have been interested in seeing it for a while, so once again I went on YouTube to try and find out more.
This was a mixture of a comedy show and a chat show, usually around 50 minutes long. It was always scheduled against the current affairs documentaries Panorama on BBC1, and World In Action on ITV, meaning that it would usually be BBC2’s highest-rated show of the week! And well, it did come across as very showbiz. The show would begin with a bow-tie wearing Bob entering the stage while an orchestra played and the studio audience would give him a generous welcome, it must’ve been a very good feeling.
Bob would then begin with a few jokes, before introducing his guests. The studio also featured pictures on the wall of some of the comedy greats. Bob was very knowledgeable about the history of British comedy, and tried to get as wide a variety of guests on the show as possible. As well as doing their routine, Bob would also interview them. Although it wasn’t an interview really, it was just an invitation to tell some more jokes and share their best anecdotes. Bob would be happy to play the straightman to them and laugh at the right time.
Among those taking part were veteran comedians including Tommy Cooper, Frankie Howerd and Norman Wisdom. And there would also be guests from around the world, along with some up-and-coming talent that would go on to bigger things. Also featuring were a range of musicians, mime artists, magicians, and so on, simply anybody who had an impressive act to show off and deserved the TV exposure.
There were 31 editions of The Bob Monkhouse Show, and it does come across as very entertaining. Plenty of editions were later repeated on BBC1. One highlight for people was when a cruel prank was played on Bob as Pamela Stephenson caused chaos during an interview, including trying to shoot people and blow up the studio, which gave him the fright of his life.
About a decade later, after Bob had a deserved reappraisal as a comedian and won over a new generation of fans, he hosted the BBC1 comedy show Bob Monkhouse On The Spot, where he told a few stories, along with a few topical jokes. There were no guests on this one, Bob did it all on his own and his quick-witted talent made it very enjoyable to watch. I’ll try and review that one in full soon too.