Well, I don’t need Wikipedia – did I just say that out loud? – to help me introduce this next genius of musical comedy.
But let me go back to the beginning. My cultural education began one day in the late 1950s when the family bought a smart new Grundig reel-to-reel tape-recorder.
For starters, this opened up a whole new world of creative opportunity – recording daft improvised conversations and roughly-scripted ‘comedy’ sketches, singing like the Chipmunks (using that handy 3-speed function knob!) or sometimes surreptitiously leaving the machine on when my parents were arguing about everything or nothing in the vain hope of shaming them into silence.
But the big thrill was being able to record stuff off the radio and play it back whenever you wanted.
Those were the dog days between Elvis and the Beatles when some of the best things on the air were novelty songs. And nobody performed a novelty song better than Bernard Cribbins.
Quite apart from his comfortable and completely natural singing voice, he brought a wealth of other talents and experiences to the job. Now 90 years old he has been an English character actor, comedy actor, voice-over artist and musical comedian with a career spanning over seventy years. Who could forget his hilarious portrayal of a loud, fussy and pretentious guest in the Hotel Inspectors episode of Fawlty Towers?
Two of his songs, presented below, were particular family favourites. In lieu of live footage – he was very much a studio man – these recordings are accompanied by charming amateur animations.
And if they fail to charm, well, you can always close your eyes and imagine. After all, you are in the hands of a master storyteller …