Sunday 11 December 2011

'Ain't life grand when yer daft?'

The other day I found my mind turning to the Lancastrian comedian Frank Randle (it must be the overwork). I've been uneasily fascinated with this monster of comedy ever since reading King Twist: A Portrait of Frank Randle by - of all people - Jeff Nuttall, whose Bomb Culture was on every bookshelf in my student days. This clip from a recent BBC4 series, Rude Britannia, gives a flavour of Randle, a comic hugely famous in his day, who was to Blackpool what Elvis was to Las Vegas, though a lot less wholesome. It is hardly surprising that his fame did not outlive him - he was absolutely of his time and place and belonged to a particular phase in the history of impolite popular entertainment. And yet there is something so Dionysiac, so anarchic, so darkly clownish about him that he is bigger than that, almost archetypal. He represents, perhaps, a particular twist (King Twist) on the Shakespearean fool at his darkest and most unruly. Perhaps.
Randle, who seems to have spent much of his life drunk, was also brilliant at playing drunk scenes, so one was invariably included in the handful of low-budget feature films he made (in one of them, mind-bogglingly, he appeared with Diana Dors). The best of the drunk scenes involves Randle negotiating a grand staircase while barely able to stand - I couldn't find that one, but here's a taste of Randle in action, making good use of one of his catchphrases, 'Geroff mi foot!' Those were the days...


  1. Diana clearly didn't rate Frank - according to this report on Mancunian Films official web site:

    'Her appearance in Mancunian’s It’s A Grand Life in 1953 was a kind of punishment meted out to her by Rank for some alleged misconduct. She regarded travelling to Manchester as the equivalent of being sent to Siberia and loathed working with Frank Randle who she described as a “disgusting, dirty old drunk”

    I vaguely remember Frank from my childhood radio days and loved him. I thought he played a marvelous drunk; but then again, perhaps he was drunk!

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