Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Arthur Mullard and Hylda Baker
First up a duet featuring a "great" cover of one of the best loved songs from Grease!
Introduced by Kenny Lynch, in case the face is familiar but you can't grab the name.
Here is a typical "skit" with Hylda Baker and Cynthia (as usual portrayed by a tall male in drag who never said a word).
Arthur was a character actor and appeared in many TV shows (and British comedy movies). Here he is with one of the English classics Tony Hancock. Watch him steal the scene.
He was regularly cast as a guest star on many other TV shows and once quipped "If the TV bosses are stuck they'll say 'Let's put Arfur on, but not too much or he'll steal the bleedin' show!'"
Hylda Baker (4 February 1904 – 1 May 1986) was a British comedienne and music hall star. Baker was born in Farnworth, near Bolton, Lancashire, the first of seven children. Her father, Harold Baker, was a painter and signwriter, who also worked the music halls as a part-time comedian. At the age of ten, Baker made her debut at the Opera House, Tunbridge Wells, and continued to tour as a single variety act - singing, dancing and performing impersonations. By the age of 14, Baker had become a leading lady, who was also writing, producing and performing her own shows.
Her most famous act was as a Northern gossip with a silent, sullen companion named Cynthia, who was almost always played by a man in drag. Her act was full of malapropisms and her most famous catchphrase, usually after an innuendo, was "She Knows, Y'Know!".
Arthur Ernest Mullard (c. 19 September 1910 –11 December 1995) was an English comedy actor. He was born in a humble background in Islington, started work at 14 as a butcher's assistant, and joined the army at 18. It was in the army that he began boxing, becoming champion of his regiment. When he left the Army after three years he had a short stint at boxing professionally. This ended after 20 fights over three years, following a knock-out from which he lost his memory.
Following the end of the Second World War in 1945 he sought work as a stuntman at Pinewood and Ealing film studios, from which he drifted into uncredited bit-parts in British films such as Oliver Twist, The Ladykillers, Morgan!, The Great St Trinian's Train Robbery, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Ladies Who Do, Adventures of a Plumber's Mate and The Lavender Hill Mob.
Mullard's distinctive "ugly mug" and variety of cockney accent lent itself to a certain character and he graduated to more visible roles in comedy films and on television. It was on television that Mullard made a name for himself, first as a straight man for Tony Hancock, Frankie Howerd and Benny Hill, then in The Arthur Askey Show. It was the London Weekend Television series Romany Jones, first aired in 1973, which give Mullard his highest profile, playing Wally Briggs, a crafty caravan-dwelling character.
So popular was Mullard's character that a spin-off - Yus, My Dear - was created in 1976, in which Wally and his wife Lily (Queenie Watts) had moved out of their caravan into a council house. The series introduced Wally's brother Benny, the first acting role for future EastEnders and Snatch star Mike Reid. Yus, My Dear was a hit and Arthur (or "Arfur" as he was widely known) was regularly a guest in other programmes and television commercials.