Larry Grayson - Look At The Muck On 'Ere!

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Larry Grayson...Seems Like A Nice Boy!

Larry Grayson dominated a niche of British comedy in the 1970’s by utilising his highly successful personality and natural comic timing, honed by years of practising his craft around endless theatres and clubs. His act became synonymous with English Music Hall humour and the personification of high camp. Through television shows, most notably The Generation Game, Larry found a mass outlet where he could expose his whims and movements and strut his unique personality.

His manner, style and persona endeared him to several generations and influenced many of today’s performers, he could get a laugh purely by flicking a wrist and saying “Look at the muck on here!” or touching his head and saying “Must wash my hair, it’s gone all limp…”

Larry Grayson's world revolved around a whole myriad of peculiar characters and comic situations like a repertory theatre played out for the imagination. Chief characters who Larry often gave exposure to were Slack Alice, Apricot Lil (who works in the jam factory), the postman, Pop-It-In-Pete (“the things I’ve had through my letterbox…!), the baker, Self Raising Fred and not forgetting the enigmatic and proudly named Everard, Larry’s close friend.

Larry's comedy was gossipy, slightly bitchy and injected with a healthy amount of innuendo and eyebrow raising remarks. His routines would often involve stories of people with their legs wrapped in tin foil who he never thought would see Easter, and Slack getting drunk down the Cock and Trumpet, sprawled out over the bar with her legs in the air like two bolsters and him predicting that "She'll have her red hat on tonight!"

Hypochondria was Larry's forte too and was primarily used in his act to gain sympathy from the audience, thus he was constantly feeling, "As Limp as a vicars handshake" and coming over "all queer." On one or two occasions he complained of stiffness and getting it “all down this side…” glancing at the audience he would say, “You suffer from it to don’t you sir? I can tell the way you’re sitting!” Then he would let us know he has to use this ointment, he would normally use Fiery Jack but (“I’ve lost his number!”)

Grayson flourished in an age that would forever be associated with brash fashions and big hair styles, where platform shoes were so high they came with an oxygen tank and where hot pants and large earrings became essential evening wear, and that was just for the men. An age when sexual politics and militancy were replacing the rather old-fashioned ideals of post war Britain and equal opportunities meant letting the girl buy her own lager and lime. A time when disco ruled and Abba reined Monarch, and where polyester sweaters with diamond segments were stretching back the boundaries of fashion and good taste.

This was the age that one man was elevated to fame and fortune, this the era that cried out for camp like a disused tent, and whose calls were answered by a unique and talented entertainer who would dominate the comedy landscape and leave behind a thousand happy memories and yet never truly reveal the private man that was so publicly on show, Larry Grayson.

Illegitimate Theatre

Banbury is a small market town on the northern border of Oxfordshire, the town made its money from the numerous farmers markets and cattle fairs that would congregate in the small market square every week, whether there was the burning rays of an English summer or the frozen snowfall of a bitter winter the farmers would always be there to trade their animals and sell their hard laboured produce. Sheep would look on from caged pens, chickens roamed about the market place and women would display there newly made jams and preserves while the men huddled round in sly groups inspecting the quality of another herd. Banbury was and still is a rural agricultural town influenced by the land around it, and so it was to be that an illegitimate child would spend his first few days of life among these country folk and years later look back on this period with a wry smile, Larry Grayson was not going to be here long.

William White was born on the 31st August 1923 in Banbury, for his mother Ethel this was not entirely a joyous occasion as the babies father had steadfastly refused to marry her which meant that she would be breaking a major taboo in society at that time in having a child out of wedlock. The shame society would heap on her for bringing into the world an illegitimate son was immense, the word ‘b*****d’ was still a common description for such babies and meant that very soon the baby, or she, would have to leave. As for the father, a factory foreman, the son would never meet him or hear about him ever again. This was society in the pre-Second World War period, the Victorian constraints and powerful Christian morals of this generation would not disappear until well after 1960.

So already the baby had been marked out by society as an outcast, an unnatural result of its mother’s loose morals, and as for baby William White he was seen as different right from his birth with the odds stacked against him from such a tiny age.
William would prove himself different in many other ways later on, and may have looked at this period as the start of feeling that he was deficient in some way and never destined to fit in or be ‘average.’

Ten days after the babies birth William White arrived in the Midlands mining town of Nuneaton to meet his adopted family. Nuneaton is just outside Coventry, at this time still sheltered in its own community and not yet swallowed up by the mighty industrial towns that would later eclipse it. It was an old fashioned close knit place with its roots firmly in working class manual labour, not up north but not down south either it was part of the powerhouse of England that the Midlands would become, Birmingham with its mighty workhouses and vast canal networks was also part of this urban workhorse that sprang up factories and terraced housing like no tomorrow, it was a far cry from rural Banbury and a different planet to the glitz and glamour of show business.

He would be known from now on as Billy White to his new family and friends, the Hammond’s. Alice and Jim Hammond already had two daughters of their own, May and Flo and when at the age of six his adoptive mother Alice died the task of looking after him fell to the eldest sister Flo.

Flo was by all accounts an amazing woman and made sure Billy never went hungry and always had a pair of new shoes on his feet, although the family were on the poverty line Flo made certain that Billy would be different and not have to suffer like they had.
It was not until Billy was eight years old that he discovered that the mysterious Aunt Ethel was in fact his natural mother and that Flo was not. However his love for Flo was that of a mother and son regardless of ‘blood’ and she would always be ‘mum’ to him, not to mention his number one fan and friend.

The terraced houses of Abbey Green Nuneaton ensured that neighbours looked onto neighbours, women could gossip over the fence with the occasional silent mouthing to indicate a particularly sensitive piece of dialogue and all the toilets, shared of course, were outside in a block with wash houses next door, here the laundry was boiled in large ‘coppers’, oh the beauty of a Hotpoint.

All of this meant that Billy sat and listened to the quirks and oddities in the Nuneaton dialect and would later emulate what he heard to great effect when he was better known as Larry Grayson.
He explained in an interview years later the benefit of listening to these characters that inhabited the area, “I listen to people, I mean I’m out a lot and ladies come up to me in the street and say ‘Hello Larry how are you, how’s your sister?’ I say, ‘Oh she’s fine, how are you going on?’, and she said, ‘Well I’ve had this terrible pain….’, I said ‘Well there’s an R in the month…you’ll get it!”

Billy developed a tendency to show off and would put on small productions in the wash houses for the local friends and neighbours, charging cigarette cards for the privilege of seeing him give his all for theatrical posterity. He would explain the story to Michael Parkinson during a 1970’s interview, “I used to get home from school at night and have concerts in the wash house and I used to have children see these concerts, like an evening with!”

His thirst for acting and performing had now begun in earnest, fuelled by performances in school, the great acts in the backyard and showing off to amused aunts and uncles. When he left school at 14 he took a job in the local shoe shop but knew this wasn’t for him, so two days later he left the job and announced he was going to be a star!

From Drags To Riches

The club scene in the Midlands and in the north of England was huge, up until the advent of alternative comedy the working men’s clubs were the cultural oasis for the area, it was always a paradox that the areas with the highest amounts of unemployment always boasted the largest amount of ‘working’ men’s clubs.
The ‘clubs’ were smoky dens typified by the classic TV show The Wheeltappers and Shunters Club, normally some pretty dire dog acts and ‘singers’ would be interspersed with the club comic telling a stream of mother-in-law gags.

A neighbour had heard of Bill’s plans to leave the shoe shop and as a gesture he offered to get him a spot at the Fife Street Working Men’s Club where he would be able to perform for a fee, it wasn’t the Palladium, but from selling shoes it was a step up.
For the occasion he decided to wear a white suit and sing a risqué Music Hall type song as part of the Very Lights called In The Bushes At The Bottom Of The Garden.

Whatever were at the bottom of his garden certainly left the audience amused and finally confirmed to Bill that as an individual he may have felt deficient, but as a performer he could be as confident and popular as never before.

After a hard days slog on the northern club circuit he would always get home to have a lovely hot dinner that Flo would have cooked for him, she would still be there to make sure he never wanted.

Various other club engagements poured in and soon he was a star turn within the area. As well as his hometown he also began working for the Coventry clubs and various others where he would go on in the first half dressed as a woman and wear an immaculate shirt and tie in the second, he would always be a snappy dresser.

The performance was far from being a drag and as his later manager Paul Vaughan said in an interview, his ability to become a woman was so convincing that it could be a total transformation, “Very often the first half he would be in drag, ‘Britain’s Miss-leading Lady’ was how he was billed or ‘The Reason The Troops Went East - And West! And then after the interval he’d come out again in a suit and a lot of people didn’t know it was the same person, but he got two fees for it!”

Larry Grayson said in later years, “I always say it took me 34 years to get out of a dress and into a suit”, that must have been some sticky catch!
Bernard Manning recalled in later years Larry Grayson’s emphasis on looking smart, he quoted him as saying, “To be skint is no crime, but to look skint is unforgivable.”

He went on to tour the villages of Devon and Cornwall with a show called The Four Blue Pages, complete with drag, sequins and feathers. Not much remains in terms of any archive from his act, just personal recollections, but from all accounts he must have been very successful and was doing a similar performance that Hinge and Bracket would do so popularly years later.

By the Thirties he had changed his name yet again, this time to Billy Breen and he was working with the famous Ralph Reader, whose ‘Gang Show’s’ had been an early training ground for other comics such as Peter Sellers, Tony Hancock and Dick Emery.

Once again a change of name was seen as necessary, this time however Billy Breen would now, and always, been known as Larry Grayson. His agent Eve Taylor and suggested Larry and he chose Grayson after his favourite singing star Kathryn Grayson.

He continued doing his drag and patter act in endless tatty variety clubs and countless summer shows for thirty years, yet despite his reputation on the circuit as a master of comic timing and a pioneer of the look and the image real success was still eluding him.

If that wasn’t enough in 1969 his health failed and he was admitted to hospital with three burst stomach ulcers and shortly afterwards suffered from a nervous breakdown, these were dark days and most performers either rise above them or deteriorate into the vicious circle of alcoholism or the regurgitating of worn out routines to lesser and lesser audiences, not for the first time then the odds were stacking against him.

What A Gay Day!

Following Larry’s brush with death he decided that he had to pull himself together and make a big effort if he was ever going to be a star, he wasn’t young anymore and unlike most comedians who became famous in their salad days Larry was to prove the opposite of this. It was a time of frustration as he always believed that he could do it, yet all efforts to do so had so far been to no avail, he also revealed later in life that he was resigned to the fact that he was too old and would not do it now, however this only made his appreciation of success greater and he always treated it with a respect so many of his peers lacked or took for granted.

Larry had a booking at this seedy den called The Stork Club in London, and that night fate had decreed that this was going to be his springboard and the last of the tat and endless flea pit clubs and hopeless attempts at fame, for in the audience was Michael Grade, who happened to be related to the impresario and TV entrepreneur Sir Lew Grade. Michael Grade had been tipped off by a writer and performer, Peter Dulay, about this great comic and as Michael Grade would later explain in an interview regarding his part in the rise and rise of Larry Grayson he knew he was good, “On came Larry Grayson in a suit, with the chair, and I think he only did four minutes, that’s all they needed from him and I signed him the next morning!”

Michael Grade was his agent for several years and always classed Larry Grayson as one of the greatest raconteurs at parties and social gatherings, he also said he found him a delight to work with. Peter Dulay, who tipped Michael Grade off, would later be Larry Grayson’s chief scriptwriter for songs and shows.

1971 was looking to be a great year for Larry Grayson, his first television appearances were lined up, ATV had signed him for a four-minute spot on three Saturday Variety shows. During these shows Larry came on with the his trademark wooden chair and when he needed to lift the audience he’d say, “Let’s have a change of scenery, and he would move the chair from the left side to the right. He also started impregnating the national psyche with his catchphrases, “Shut that door” was one he quoted more than once, then he’d look at the chair, run his fingers over the top as if inspecting it and say with contempt “Look at the muck on here!” The audience were in hysterics, after that he’d give them the most apt catchphrase and gleefully say, with more than tongue in cheek, “What a gay day!”

Larry explained to his new audience how he got this job, and began telling them of his showbiz triumphs:
“I’ve walked miles to get here and my legs are killing me….they are, I’m riddled with arthritis, but I’ll tell you this Shut That Door! No the thing is you see now I’m here (he feels his nose) I’ve got the worms! No the thing is now I’m here I thought I’d get a job with this lot, I can do it……I can do all this chorus work very well, I’ve done it all before, yes I have, I’ve been going around for years in musical comedies, I have really, I’ve done the Quaker Girl, I’ve done Rose Marie, I’ve done the Maid Of The Mountains, I’ve been very busy! I did the Vagabond Queen - I refused the Chocolate Soldier!”

Everyone was talking about this enigmatic and very funny man, they all thought he was an overnight star, little did they know the truth. Lew Grade was so impressed by his new talent that he extended the Saturday Variety slots to 6 shows, then 12 and eventually to 16, he also appeared on the Leslie Crowther Show, until eventually Larry got his own show, called ‘Shut That Door.’

Shut That Door was a thirty minute show of Larry doing what he did best, comedy and sketches, here he finally had a platform to talk about his friends Slack Alice and Everard, and of course mince to a grateful audience of several million!
He also read out a letter from a rather strange viewer in a part of the show he called Get It Off Your Chest, “Dear Larry, my husband is an explorer and he came home this morning after 25 years in Borneo, he was looking for the Ha Ha tribe, he didn’t find them. He has changed slightly, he now has a long white beard and a bone through his nose, our dog won’t go near him. And all he wears is his handkerchief, one at the back and one at the front, I just dare not send him shopping! He’s been home five minutes and he wants to play games with me, he has got a blow pipe and some darts and he wants me to stand near the shed with an apple on my head!”

Larry would also keep up the banter in these shows by going on endlessly about the missing brooch that he claimed had disappeared in circumstances he never elaborated on but involved Jack Parnell who was an ATV music director, whether these activities involved his baton too was never disclosed! Larry also abused the pianist by looking at him and saying “You look as though you’re embalmed, I can smell the ferrets from here!”

Often he finished the shows with a song and a heartfelt, rather emotional message to the viewers that “I love you all.” It was entirely genuine and always sincere.

In 1972 as if to confirm the fact of Larry’s popularity he was voted the TV Times Funniest Man award, he also recorded comic songs based on his catchphrase and topped the bill at the London Palladium, the Queen Mother was a particular fan of Larry’s.

He moved from his home in Clifton Road to a more exclusive part of Nuneaton into a house he named The Garlands, after his idol Judy Garland. His next big investment was a white Rolls Royce, in which he kept handy a container of salt and a bottle of vinegar for his chip suppers in the back seat! Serious drama was also considered when he appeared in Crossroads, a cult ITV soap, in 1973 and 1975, where he was playing next to the star of that particular series and his great friend Noele Gordon.

To confirm the publics interest in this mysterious man he was invited onto the Michael Parkinson Show, where Michael asked him about the characters, and specifically how real and observed they are “Oh I know they are, I mean Everard's a mess! You know his names Everard Farquaharsan(?), he’s a drip but he’s very faithful, you know whenever he used to travel with me on tour he always stood at the side with my coco, cause he’s got a friend called Michael Bonavenchi, I don’t see a lot of him now- they do a lot of pot holing!”

It was true that all these characters were genuine and existed, Everard was a real lad who Larry got introduced to by his landlady mother in Bolton, Larry later said when he heard the name, “He won’t thank you for that when he’s eighteen I’m sure!”
And Slack Alice and Apricot Lil were modelled on the women that Larry would see in Nuneaton, to him the town had a comic side that he loved.

Larry continued working for ITV for around six years, also recording shows for LWT including the eponymous named ‘Larry Grayson’, a show that capitalised on his slick stage style by having a set that consisted of a large marble staircase and dry ice drifting around the foot of it like a great fog of London, these were the last shows he would make for ITV, Larry was going to join Auntie Beeb and reach the pinnacle of his career along the way.

But How Gay….?

During this period Larry Grayson had become one of the most prolific of the high camp comics, John Inman, Kenneth Williams and Frankie Howerd may have equally been camping it up but Larry’s sudden fame had led to more speculation than most as to his sexuality. Larry had also perfected the double entendre in a way that was much more direct and matronly than other such comedians, who were more schoolboy smut than matriarchal.

His family always claimed that Larry was a “Very private man”, and it’s true that he never had any open relationships with men or women.
He was a regular visitor to a gay run pub/hotel in Thame Oxfordshire during the 1970’s called The Jolly Sailor, the pub was run by a man called Jack Smith who was an old dancer friend who had opened the establishment when he had retired from the theatre, Larry would serve behind the bar as part of the fun on many occasions, whether this meant he was gay is of course debateable, but he obviously enjoyed the atmosphere of the place and also the theatricality of actors.

Larry himself never discussed his sexuality publicly and always found the conjecture “amusing”, and classed himself as “sexless” and he confirmed this in an interview to Terry Wogan about sex on TV, “I can’t bear all this getting into bed with everybody, well it frightens my dog! But I don’t like things like that, perhaps it’s because I’m getting older, the doctor said to me ‘Laz, when you’re 39 you’ll find that you’ve changed!’”

Larry made no secret in performance of his ‘gay’ leanings, on one episode of the Generation Game Larry is being instructed by this big soldier to stand in line, after Larry’s complaints of his shouting the soldier then asks more softly and Larry looks at him straight in the eyes and says, “Ooh right, by the way, don’t forget to write! He’s a very nice boy!” To the blue rinsed older women of the audience that such performers seem to attract, rather like old maggots to coy carp, Larry was just a fey boy and no more than that.

To them his campness never represented anything other than homely sweetness. To the young men growing up gay in that period, like Julian Clary, Larry Grayson represented a role model and high profile example of how gay people invariably acted and made their sexuality clear without having to necessarily state it. In this respect, such performers, whether the person is actually gay or not, had a very positive impact on how gay people were perceived and actually helped break down prejudice and discrimination by allowing greater understanding and thus gaining much respect from all groups in society.

In 1973 as part of a hoax the press reported the engagement between Larry and his good friend Noele Gordon, it was a joke they would tease people with for years. Both Larry and Noele would remain just good friends, this was one area where there would be no crossing of roads.

In 1993 the Museum Of The Moving Image, as part of its gay and lesbian season, honoured Larry’s 70th birthday by showing some wonderful clips of him, the great man never commented and would always remain private and dignified on areas that he would see as personal, the truth alas would always remain closeted.

Larry Grayson’s Generation Game – 18 million happy families

The Generation Game was an institution of Saturday night viewing, most people in the United Kingdom have watched an episode of what is a rather strange game show, the premise being that various families compete for prizes by having to undergo tasks that experts give them a quick demonstration on, such novelties as sausage making, or cake icing and often dance routines. The prizes are secondary, as the game itself is good harmless stuff that pokes fun at people’s inability, in most cases, to get anything even remotely right.

Bruce Forsyth had steered the Generation Game to success for many years when in 1978 he decided to quit. Following someone who had made the show their own would be like scaling the north face of Ben Nevis in stiletto heels, so when Larry Grayson was offered the chance to host the BBC 1 show he was more than a little unsure, though as manager Paul Vaughan explained in an interview, he was fully supported by friends: “He rang a lot of people and said ‘should I or shouldn’t I?’ and I can’t remember one that said don’t, they all said you’d be marvellous at it.”

Larry accepted the offer, knowing that this was the biggest part of his life, and justified all those hard club days, though as Mike Mallon, Larry’s nephew, explained auntie Flo was a little wary, “It didn’t mean a single thing to auntie Flo, she said ‘We never watch that, you know we always watch All Creatures Great And Small on the other side!’”

For the shows Larry was teamed up with Isla St Clair, a rather unglamorous Scottish lady, who nonetheless worked well with him and produced some great chemistry, as well as another catchphrase, “What’s the scores on the doors Isla?”

When it came to transmitting the first show Larry couldn’t bear to watch it, instead he walked the streets of Nuneaton and looked into peoples windows, his face lit up when he saw that everyone was watching him in the first show! After the show was broadcast the phone rang constantly with people congratulating him, it was a success and no one was more surprised than Larry.

Larry became an instant hit, though he still remained ‘himself’ in performance terms, mothering contestants where Bruce Forsyth had flirted with them, and flirting with the men where Bruce had mothered them! Larry also knew that his great strength was in the warmth and ease he radiated, so that contestants always felt comfortable and calm in his company, he would even join in the demonstrations for cakes etc and nearly always end up making a mess of it by allowing the cake to fall to the floor, or the potting wheel to spin hopelessly out of control. He also became a clown when it came to reading the contestants names out, more often than not mispronouncing or getting the cards mixed up, like the occasion when he read out that a man was married to Edwin, he then turned to the audience and said “We all make mistakes!”

Larry made sure that his favourite characters Slack Alice, Apricot Lil and Everard were all mentioned too, during one comic monologue he told of the time he worked as a pantomime horse after a contestant expressed a wish to try it one day, “Well it’s a strange ordeal, because I’ve played the back and the front of a pantomime horse, and when I was in the front of the pantomime I never said one word to the fellow at the back and he never said a word to me, and when I was at the back him at the front never said a word to me and I never said a word to him, yet it’s strange as I had a feeling I knew him very well…!”

The show was becoming a runaway success, so much so that it was re-titled as Larry Grayson’s Generation Game and his pay rocketed to £100,000 a year. 18 million viewers regularly tuned in to watch the show and Larry became a national treasure and its true star.
Routines from that show became comedy classics, like Larry dancing as John Travolta to Saturday Night Fever, or an episode where he is enjoying a dance round the maypole and the look of anger on Larry’s face as he is upstaged by a morris dancer smacking him with an inflated pigs liver!

Isla St Clair gave her opinions recently as to why the show was such a success, “There was a charm, and you want to protect him and I think the audience felt like that they felt very loving towards him.”

Despite all the success Larry was not happy to stay in London long for the filming of the show, the first thing he would do after shooting would be to return back home to Nuneaton and to the people he loved, he would always be more interested in what they had been doing than discussing his work on the Generation Game. It was also a sure bet that when he got home Flo would be there with a hot dinner and plenty of gossip to update him with.

The Generation Game had given Larry all he wanted, fame, fortune and love from the public. In return he had taken over a hugely successful show and made it even better than before, just by the sheer warmth of his personality and the interaction between him and the contestants. When he decided in 1981 that he was going to leave the show the main reason was that he had really enjoyed himself and knew he was going to leave on a high when the show was still successful.

Later that year he paid an emotional farewell and bowed out, the show has never been the same since and Larry would always look back at it with tears of joy, “The audience loved it all and it was fun, oh it was such fun, and some of the happiest year of my life were with that programme.”

Shut That Door!

Larry Grayson had achieved all he wanted to and was more than financially secure. He moved with Flo to Torquay as part of his semi-retirement but moved back to Nuneaton after just a couple of years, the Apricot Lil’s and Slack Alice’s were certainly not on the English Riviera. He still performed in local theatres, always packing ‘em in, and was still the ideal pantomime turn, although sticking to the script was not his strong point.

He gave back to his community even more when he became patron of the local hospital radio, and it was these various engagements that filled his time and energy during the 1980’s, a time when the more gentle comedy of Larry had been replaced by a more crude and offensive type of humour that reflected the changing attitudes of Britain in the Eighties as Mrs Thatcher battled with the miners strikes and individualism became king.

Larry still made television appearances on shows such as Wogan and the music hall programme The Good Old Days, where he was ideal as the seaside Victorian comic, offering his ‘nudge nudge wink wink humour’ to an ever grateful audience.

Then in 1987 he became a panellist on ITV’s ‘Sweethearts’ show, a dismal programme that soon folded, and left Larry without much in the way of TV work and ended any hopes of a comeback. His failing health and old age meant that he was becoming more prone to illness and was looking his 70 odd years.

His last public appearance was on the 1994 Royal Variety Show where he was applauded warmly when he came on, accompanied by his old chair and wearing an immaculate suit. The voice was slightly different, more breathy than before, and the wrists had become shrunken and thin, like sticks, he now wore glasses which couldn’t entirely disguise the oh so familiar face, even if time had etched the years onto it without mercy. It was a sad sight, but as you can tell from the very short appearance, it wasn’t to do a comedy routine, instead it was a last goodbye to all those that meant so much to him: “For all those lovely people at home that I get letters from all the time saying ‘where is he, what’s he up to?’ well I’m alright you see! I can walk without a frame, still got my hair, face hasn’t been lifted, so well, here I am! It’s lovely being with you, and before I go for all those people at home I must just say at once, shut that door!”

On New Years Eve 1994 he was rushed into hospital, odd timing as Larry always disliked New Years Eve. The diagnosis was that Larry had suffered from a perforated appendix, a very painful condition that can be hard to detect in the elderly but can be fatal in the over sixties age group. He was operated on and then released home.

On 7th January 1995, a few days after his hospital release, Larry Grayson died. Tributes poured in from all over the country and much of his hometown was in mourning. The funeral was held in Nuneaton and was certainly the biggest it had ever seen, with the press showing much interest in the occasion.

Of all the Obituaries perhaps the most revealing and the most perceptive was from Suzi Pritchard in the Guardian newspaper who wrote: “His camp, deliciously naughty humour was never crude or vulgar. The gentle ambivalence of his humour made him attractive to an extraordinarily diverse range of people. But his real appeal was that of a valued neighbour perceptively observing the details of everyday life and commenting on it across the garden fence, creating an emotional intimacy in a society starting to fragment.”

Ken Dodd, another great comic, summed up Larry Grayson’s appeal and warmth, “He loved everybody and he wanted them to love him in return and yes they did, they all loved Larry.”

Larry Grayson was a unique entertainer who worked his way up from the lowest spectrum of the entertainment sphere and finished on the highest, a man who always enjoyed life and gave to us a gift more precious than any sum of money and more valuable than the most priceless of diamonds, that of laughter and fun, and it is with this that we remember him with love, warmth and thanks, he seemed like a nice boy – and he was.

“I can’t sing, I can’t dance, I can’t play an instrument. But I’ve done everything from school nativity plays to the London Palladium.” – Larry Grayson 1923 – 1995

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