Britain's Most Loved and Best Comedy Double Act

ON TV - Whitfield and Cogan

DVD Review from 2011

DVD covers

Judo routine

One of the joys of early variety shows, is that you never know who is going to turn up. Long lost names from the past caught for a brief moment in time. The Ed Sullivan Show Beatles DVD, for example, happens to have Morecambe and Wise on it as well as a very early performance by Davey Jones of the Monkees!!..

David Whitfield and Alma Cogan on TV are two such DVDs that Odeon Entertainment have released. Both massive stars in there day, but maybe not so well known to the younger generation.

Born in Hull, David Whitfield was a tenor and recording hit star from the 1950’s. He was the first British singer to be awarded a gold disc for “Cara Mia” which stayed at no 1 for 10 weeks in 1954. David Whitfiled was a true star of the 50’s. The DVD brings together 2 Val Parnell Spectaculars that he did for ATV.

Alma Cogan is perhaps are name the younger generation may be more familiar with. Alma was again another shining star of the 50’s. She was dubbed “The Girl With The The Giggle In Her Voice” and was on TV almost weekly. The DVD brings together 4 of her Val Parnel Spectaculars from the 50’s.

What has this to do with Morecambe and Wise I hear you all ask. Well as I mentioned before, these wonderful variety shows from the 50’s often contain surprises, long lost stars of the past and in these cases early Morecambe and Wise appearances.

David Whitfield On TV contains 2 x 30mins shows extras. Billed as Val Parnell Spectaculars we are treated to wonderful trip down memory lane. As with many shows of the time it was filmed live with couple of pre recorded parts to allow for scene changes.

Not only does he have a wonderful voice, but also a cheeky eye for comedy. From the opening sketch of him in bed watching his own show to seeing what he sees when trying to sing a romantic song!

The show has many tremendous songs, dance and comedy routines as would befit a variety show of this time. The picture and sound quality are very good and won’t detract from your pleasure. The second show continues where the first stopped. More big dance routines, more operatic songs and more variety!

Morecambe and Wise appear on episode 2 of the David Whitfield on TV DVD. This is an early appearance. Still learning the craft of TV they were still applauded warmly as they appeared. The act is still rough, but has the beginnings of classic Morecambe and Wise. They engage in 3 way cross talk with David Whitfield. Ernie complimenting David on his songs, David complimenting them on their comedy. All the time Eric is putting in the jokes. An early classic being Ernie “ I loved your last record”.. Eric “ lots of people say it should have been”. Echoes of Des O’Connor already! The lads then proceed to give David the benefit of their wisdom when it comes to becoming hip. Turning him into a skiffle star that the security don’t recognise! Mr Whitfield is a smart fellah!

This could easily be a classic in front of the curtain routine with a famous guest star. Making fun without being derogatory. They make one last brief appearance after The Jones Boys again bringing security on to remove David Whitfield from the studio.

Show 2 does have a wonderful moment of Margo Henderson. Dressed in a full evening ball gown she impersonates celebrities of the day doing rock n roll at the piano. Where else would you get that!! The David Whitfield DVD also has some nice extras in the form on other TV appearances David made on other shows, such as Arthur Haynes, Bob Crosby Show and one in colour The Wheel Tappers and Shuntters.

Alma Cogan

The Alma Cogan on TV DVD offers us 4 x 40 min shows, again billed as Val Parnells Spectacular we are once again presented with a trip down memory lane and back to variety of the early days of TV. Picture quality and sound are once again great for the age. These are another collection of wonderful early 60’s TV variety shows.

Alma entertains us with a great selection of popular songs and routines. There are many great guests including The Everley Brothers and Adam Faith. Show 1 is quite heavy on the songs (and why not!), but still has some great moments of variety.

Show 2 again is big on songs duets and show stoppers. It is also where Morecambe and Wise come in. Transmitted 19th December 1959 the lads do a brilliant judo sketch. The master Eric Morecambe just sets it up superbly! Ernie is introducing a demonstration on Judo and asks about lessons. This is where Eric appears and starts to show Ernie different moves and situations. Eric being Eric thinks he’s outwitted Ernie, but Ernie always finds a way out. Either knocking him down or through a wall!

What is interesting is again, like the David Whitfield crosstalk had hints of what was to come, there is a gag that they used years later. Eric puts his hand under Ernies chin saying “get out of that then” After the sketch Eric is stretchered of infront of Alma who then puts her hand under his chin and asks him to “get out of that!”. Eric and Ernie then make a brief appearance at the end during the credits.

On top of that this show also included the Everley Brothers singing All I Have To Do Is Dream and Cathys Clown.

Show 3 conitnues in the same vain. Songs songs and more songs including the legend that was Winifred Atwell.

Show 4 … well you get the idea…. The picture quality is probably the poorest but still very watchable.

The Alma Cogan DVD also has a selection of extra performances by Alma on other shows. Including Cliff with a very young Cliff Richard! Over all both these DVD’s take you back to a simplier time. TV on… Songs.. Variety.

Both DVD’s are wonderful and I’m sure that fans of David Whitfield and Alma Cogan will snap them up and not be disappointed. It is tremendous that companies like Odeon are releasing these archive shows and even more impressive that someone somewhere kept them.

As for Morecambe and Wise, these shows are fantastic records of their early work. Although we wouldn’t recommend you buy them just for Morecambe and Wise.

© 2011

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The Morecambe & Wise Shows: Series 1 and 2 - The Surviving Episodes
Review of the BBC DVD

The Morecambe & Wise Show : Series 3
Series three from the BBC

The Morecambe & Wise Show - Thames Years
The complete first series of the Thames series.