Thank You For Watching - Janet Webb
Feature from 2009
It started in 1969, the first show of series two had finished, or so we thought, the credits were rolling, Eric and Ernie were taking the well deserved applause and Bring Me Sunshine had just finished....
Janet with Eric, Ern and Arthur
From the back of the set, stage right, a large, burly, well dressed lady, strode on and pushed her way between the guests and the two comedians. No one watching at the time knew what was happening, but this, it turns out was Eric’s idea.
Wearing a bright yellow ball gown, she stole the applause, bowing gracefully much to the bemusement of the cast who stood looking on. Her name didn’t even appear in the credits for this first show, who was this women?
This was the running gag that would end every show for the next three or four years.
It wasn’t until series five that the audiences actually heard her speak, and her words would remain unchanged for the remainder of her appearances apart from one special occasion.
In a warm, refined accent, she declared;
“I'd like to thank all of you for watching me and my little show here tonight. If you've enjoyed it, then it's all been worthwhile. So, until we meet again, good night, and I love you all.”
Her name was never mentioned on the show, although she did appear in the credits as mentioned above, from the second show onwards. To Eric and Ern she was ‘The lady who comes down at the end” but her name was Janet Webb, a buxom (49 inch) lady who stole the show for nearly four years.
One memorable appearance in series 5, 1971, saw her at the start of the show as well as the end. The Guest was Arthur Lowe of Dad’s Army fame. He had, in the script, agreed to do the show if he could meet the star. After some banter between the three of them, it comes to light he is referring to Janet and not Eric or Ernie.
Janet promptly appears and preceded to charm Arthur, and man-handle him, off the stage. At Arthur's insistence in the opening skit, she also appeared in the Play What Ernie Wrote, Monty On The Bonty. Before being cast adrift, Arthur asks that his cabin boy go with him, and sure enough Janet appears as ‘Tiny’ the cabin boy, shortly followed by the cast of Dad’s Army.
At the end she appeared again, this time in full wedding dress, accompanied by Arthur, and this time her lines have been changed.
“I'd like to thank all of you for watching me and my little show here tonight. If you've enjoyed it, then it's all been worthwhile. So, until we meet again, on behalf of my husband and I, good night, and I love you all.”
During the mid to late 70’s she became ill and her appearances grew less, eventually ending her consistent run. She made several more one-off appearances including a memorable one in the 1972 Christmas show that parodied her own role and gave her different lines and one ending to the show that producer John Ammonds thought one of the best.
The idea came from John himself and would see several previous guest stars through the show, in close up saying the line; “I worked with Morecambe and Wise, and look what happened to me.”
The camera pulled back to reveal that the star had fallen from grace, with for example, Andre Previn as a bus conductor and Eric Porter as a bin man.
Right at the very end after the credit, we get a shot of Janet’s face;
“I’m Janet Webb. I worked with Morecambe and Wise and it’s done me no harm.”
The camera pulls back to reveal her stood by a Rolls Royce. She proceeds to walk up a flight of stair and enters a huge stately home.
That show was supposed to contain more famous guests, but because of other working commitment, they couldn’t appear. Alas, we never got to see Shirley Bassey, on her hands and knees scrubbing the floor.
Janet also appeared as the surprise guest in many of Eric and Ern’s live shows. She would sneak in when no one was about and remain in a dressing room until required to strut on stage and deliver her famous words.
Sadly she died very young, being only 58 when she finally succumbed to cancer. Although her part was small, she made a large impact on viewers, who loved her warm friendly character with little to say. Those words will remain in the minds of many fans for years to come.
If you have any information about Janet we would love to hear from you.
© morecambeandwise.com 2009