Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Farewell to one of the nation's favourite clowns

Norman Wisdom was like the marmite of British Comedy – you either loved him or you hated him and thankfully, most people loved him.

Whenever I see that one of his films is on, I always sit and watch it because they bring back so many happy memories for me growing up as a kid as his films used to be screened mainly on a Saturday morning before the likes of Tiswas and Multicoloured swap shop.

They were entertaining films with more slapstick than dialogue and the usual endings of the little man who takes on the big companies and not only wins, but gets the girl at the end as well.

Sir Norman Wisdom was one of those people who made you smile. You only had to see him and you laughed in anticipation of his falling down the stairs or doing one of his comedy trips. He was still doing them in his 80s and famously did a trip when he collected his Knighthood from The Queen.

My favourite Wisdom film is the one where he is working as a milkman with a horse drawn carriage and is being bullied by the big dairy that is trying to take over Mr Grimsdale’s patch.

The dirty tricks, the poisoning of his horse and the bullying were all things that the ordinary man could identify with and so there were loud cheers when he finally caused chaos at Consolidated Dairies

The film, called The Early Bird, has the following entry in Wikipedia:

The Early Bird is a 1965 British comedy film directed by Robert Asher and starring Norman Wisdom. It also featured Edward Chapman, Bryan Pringle, Richard Vernon, John Le Mesurier and Jerry Desmonde. It was the first Norman Wisdom film to be shot in colour. The title is taken from the expression "the early bird catches the worm".


Wisdom’s character works for Grimsdale’s Dairy as a milkman in competition with Consolidated Dairies, an ever-growing rival company under manager, Walter Hunter (played by Jerry Desmonde).

Much of the humour centres on classic slapstick comedy, with Norman encountering various comedic escapades, from being dragged around Mr Hunter’s gardens by an errant lawnmower to using the fire brigade’s high pressure hosepipes to blast fireman off their ladders after being called to a suspected fire at Consolidated Dairies’ HQ.

The film used some notable special effects to create extra storeys in the Consolidated Dairies’ building and to place the head of the Grimsdale’s Dairy horse on an image of Miss Hoskins.

It is my favorite Wisdom film and has me laughing every time I see it.

However, something that I have in my CD collection is a great CD of songs by Norman Wisdom. Not only was he a funny man, but he could dance, play several musical instruments and had a lovely singing voice. "Don’t laugh at me coz I’m a fool" being his most famous hit.

He had a good innings. 95 is a wonderful age and he leaves behind a legacy of laughter.

There will no doubt be many tributes to this funny little man of comedy and I wouldn’t be surprised if Albania had an official day of mourning.

Norman had cult status in Albania as his films were the only ones allowed to be screened in the country. He once went over there will a BBC film crew and was mobbed by all these adoring fans.

So farewell Sir Norman.

There will be a bright star shining in heaven now; I just hope he doesn’t trip up the steps to the pearly gates!!

RIP Sir Norman Wisdom, 1915 – 2010.