The Kenny Everett Television Show (BBC1, 1981-1988)
A while ago I looked back at The Kenny Everett Video Show, which was a really entertaining and groundbreaking show that combined comedy and music. After four series of this though, Kenny had the desire to try something a little different, so in 1981 he decided to clear off from Thames and take the whole format over to the BBC, beginning with a Christmas special. Most of the editions are on YouTube.
At first the show was rather similar to what viewers had come to expect on ITV, as various sketches and pop groups were introduced in front of lots of TV screens, accompanied by various visual effects (Kenny also contributed to a QED documentary about how some of these effects were put together). The writing team of Barry Cryer and Ray Cameron also stayed on board alongside Kenny, but one big difference with this show is that there was now an actual studio audience!
There would also be a new group of regular characters, which meant that we would have to say goodbye to the likes of Captain Kremmen, but it proved that Kenny didn’t mind looking daft to get a laugh. Instead we could now meet Gizzard Puke (who was rather similar to Sid Snot), the mime artist whose pictures came to life (just like Smart Arty in Zzzap!), poor old Reg, the DIY expert who always had a horrible mishap, and of course the outrageous Cupid. How did they ever get away with it!
Lots of celebrities were also rather eager to take part in the sketches, and among those appearing on several occasions were Terry Wogan and Lennie Bennett. The only other regular cast member was Cleo Rocos who always made an impact alongside Kenny. Around the time of the early series, Kenny also contributed to The Naughty Joke Box, a stage show released on VHS that featured lots of comedians and their jokes that were far too rude for TV.
The show also contained a slot for pop groups to perform their latest single, and Kenny did a few memorable impressions of some pop stars too. As the series progressed, there were also plenty of parodies of game shows and soaps, and what is notable is that by the end the show had just about become a straightforward comedy sketch series, and it was interesting seeing Kenny attempt to do some proper comic acting amongst all the other zaniness.
There were 44 editions in five series of The Kenny Everett Television Show, they have been repeated on various channels including Paramount Comedy. There has been no DVD release though, hopefully somebody will think it’s worth their while like the ITV series was. After the show ended in 1988, Kenny’s main TV contributions were as a chat show guest or game show panellist where he was always good value, and after his death in 1995 there have been several documentaries paying tribute to his unique career, we definitely won’t see his like again.