Friday, 20 January 2017

Radio Review: 20 January

In praise of a great showman and live radio

Written by Louis Barfe

Danny La Rue was a true professional. Everybody loved him. He was not given to false modesty, but when you’re proven to be the best, why pretend otherwise? Audiences remember him for the glamorous outfits and bawdy jokes, usually supplied by Barry Cryer and Bryan Blackburn. Those who worked with him remember him for kindness, loyalty and generosity. Louis-Barfe-colour-176

Barbara Windsor, ‘your radio dame’, was one of those who knew him best. It was fitting then that he should be the subject of one of her new series, Barbara Windsor Celebrates (R2, Tuesdays, 10pm).

La Rue, born Daniel Patrick Carroll in Cork, didn’t think of himself as a drag act, preferring ‘comedian’. For eight glorious years from 1964 to 1972, he could add ‘club owner’ to that, with his cabaret establishment on Hanover Square being the place to be seen.

He did things properly. His dressers explained that he eschewed velcro in favour of the hefty zips usually reserved for suitcases. And when a pair of conmen used La Rue’s name and reputation to run up astronomical debts, La Tue insisted on working until everybody had been paid. He could have gone bankrupt, but that’s not how he worked.

This was a fine hour, assembled by Russell Davies and Graham Pass, tinged with sadness at the loss of both La Rue and the great Victor Spinetti, heard talking at length about his friend.

There was yet more sadness on Radio 2 last week with the news that Alex Lester and Janice Long are to lose their ‘After Midnight’ shows in favour of repeats. Overnight radio should always be live. Insomniacs, shift workers and the lonely appreciate knowing there’s someone really there. Like La Rue, Lester and Long are true professionals, and this is a terrible, short-sighted move.

Louis on Twitter: @LFBarfe or email: 

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