Louisa Benbow

He ain’t Heavy… He’s my Chuckle Brother

As ludicrous as it may seem, there’s a demographic who haven’t a clue who The Chuckle Brothers were.. (or are, as their website states, they’re headlining in the pantomime A Christmas Chuckle this year. Still going, a sterling effort.)

These days, it’s all about the Vernon Kays, Dick and Dom in da Bungalow, and Stephen Mulhern dabbling in magic. Sure, they’re alright, but I’m more concerned with the whereabouts of that chubby man with the sideburns off Byker Grove. Why’s he not fronting ITV game shows on a Saturday night? It might sound as if I’m living in the past, but I miss the days when I could kick back with a Ninja Turtles beaker filled to the brim with Sunny Delight and be guaranteed a bit of high-jinx with Tots TV, or a few laughs with the team from Zap. Now, I have heard rumours circulating that the artist on Zap was Neil Buchanan, of Art Attack fame – I can’t confirm these but I was always more interested in Daisy Dares You anyway.

Referring back to my original point about The Chuckle Brothers, those who know me might accuse me of being bias in favour of this comedy duo, due to the crush I harboured for Barry- the smaller, more chiselled brother. This isn’t the case, if anything; I’ve seen the error of my ways: Paul was always the looker. I just belong to the school of thought that holds that if the moustached pair were to have a regular slot on children’s television, there may just be a smaller number of wimpy, ill-equipped children. That might be a bit of a sweeping statement, but the rare live gigs they do surely can’t compete with the massive audiences they were raking in with Chucklevision and its moral agendas?

The premise of the show was for the wacky pair to undertake some job or task which they were less than capable of doing; the beauty of the show lies in the fact that however outrageous the job was, they would always give it a go. I know that as an eight-year-old, the sight of Paul and Barry enthusiastically rocking up in the red and white striped quadricycle (aptly titled ‘The Chuckmobile’), was only sending out good vibes; I picked up on those vibes, understood them and employed them in real life. At the tender age of 16, I was hired as a waitress; little did I know that I’d spend the majority of my shift in the larder, ironing my manager’s garments. It’s not been officially proven, but Paul and Barry’s spirit of perseverance may have stuck with me and fuelled that fire that kept me going in that larder.

This article could be mistaken as me nostalgically wallowing in a pool of television greats, similar to those countdown shows.. “100 Greatest…”, the type of shows where a couple of previously faceless radio DJ’s dish out their opinions and make the odd quip. I suppose in a way, it is a bit similar; it is just me reminiscing about programmes I enjoyed as a youngster. However, it won’t, eventually, after what seems like hours and a few channel switches, culminate in a Number 1. It’s not my Number 1, I don’t know what would top my chart, but I will say this; Round the Twist was bloody good wasn’t it? Bronson being a rascal? Harold Gribble, always looking to get his dirty estate agent hands on the lighthouse? I would not begrudge CBBC if they slotted the odd episode in every now and again.

While we’re on the subject of retro entertainers who’ve taken a backseat and let Ant & Dec bag all the good gigs, it may or may not be of interest to you that Les Dennis shunned a handshake from me. He was starring in a show based on the Eurovision song contest… when he ventured into the crowd to meet some fans/general audience members. That’s when it happened; I offered my hand for shaking, he looked, and carried on walking.

I’ll leave that there as it’s clearly still raw.