The One-Hit Wonders – The 80s Part 18.

It’s time to go back into the rather unusual world of comedy records. By 1988, Harry Enfield was a comedian who had only been on the TV comedy scene for a few years, contributing to shows including Spitting Image and Saturday Live. His most successful character at this point was Loadsamoney, a young man who was rather fond of constantly telling people that he was in possession of a rather substantial amount of money.

But probably realising that saying “I am in possession of a rather substantial amount of money” wasn’t really a good catchphrase, he just shouted “loadsamoney!” all the time. So in May 1988 it was decided to launch this character on to the singles chart too when “Loadsamoney (Doin’ Up The House)” (I presume that’s a pun on the upcoming house music scene at the time there) was released.

And probably not too surprisingly, several songs that contained the word “money” were sampled. This ended up doing fairly well, and reached no. 4. Around this time, Loadsamoney also appeared on the cover of NME. Looking back now, there were also some contributions from a few people that went just about unacknowledged at the time, but they would go on to be rather successful too.

These were Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Higson, who worked with Harry for many years, before going on to further success themselves with The Fast Show. Charlie already knew a little about pop music, because in the early-80s he was a member of the group The Higsons (and at this point he was known as “Switch” Higson), and although they didn’t have any hits, they made one or two appearances in Smash Hits.

And also featuring was the writer and producer who would become known as William Orbit. They also performed this on Top Of The Pops (I bet that Charlie would’ve preferred to appear with The Higsons though, that would be much more credible). But after this, Harry decided that Loadsamoney was at the peak of his popularity, and the joke really couldn’t be taken any further.

So he decided to do what most comedians wouldn’t do in this situation, and he killed him off. He then went off to develop a new bunch of characters that would appear on his sketch show on BBC2 in 1990. Harry did sort-of make a return to the chart eventually though, when in 2000, a song from the soundtrack of the Kevin The Teenager film made the Top 20.

The Comedy Vault – Norbert Smith – A Life.

Norbert Smith – A Life (Channel 4, 1989)

This was one of the earliest comedy successes for Harry Enfield, who by this point had already discarded of Loadsamoney and Stavros, the characters that made him a big name. Norbert Smith – A Life, was a one-off special that looked back at the very nearly interesting career of the veteran British actor who had been in the business for five decades, which was made in the style of an edition of The South Bank Show.

To celebrate his 80th birthday, Sir Norbert (as he is now) took a look back at his home at his theatre and film work, well what he could remember of it, and he shared some stories about some of the famous people that he had known. He was born in London, and he never looked back. His acting career started in the 30s, and by the 40s, he had gone off to America for further success in musicals.

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A lot of the archive clips of Smith at work were specially made for the show, and they featured parodies of real films and actors. And a lot of these seemed to be rather similar to the films that have recently been shown on the London Live channel in the afternoon. Whether it was musicals or comedies, you name it, he was probably in it. And one of the characters in a parody would later reappear as the black and white Mr Greyson in his BBC2 sketch series.

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There were also contributions from from several of the actors that he worked alongside, who help to put a picture together of his career. As the years progressed, we see that he really has done the lot, from appearing on stage in Uncle Vanya (although nobody threw a pie), he even appeared in a Carry On film, how versatile. It’s no wonder he was considered by many to be one of the actors of his era.

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Norbert Smith – A Life did well enough to win some awards and raise Enfield’s profile, and the great attention to detail in the parodies would also feature in some of his later shows, including Smashie And Nicey – The End Of An Era, and The Story Of The 2’s. There was a VHS release, but I don’t think that there was ever a DVD release, it’s very frustrating that a lot of Enfield’s sketch shows aren’t available to watch anywhere now really.