Tuesday 4 February 2014

'She knows, y' know'

Which leaves me free to concentrate on the important matter of marking the 109th birthday of the late 'peculiarly northern' comedienne Hylda Baker - catchphrase 'She knows, y' know'. After a largely blameless career treading the boards and starring in such once-popular sitcoms as Nearest and Dearest (trading heartfelt insults with Jimmy Jewel) and Not On Your Nellie, Hylda unaccountably teamed up with cockney knucklehead extraordinaire Athur Mullard to record a unique interpretation of You're the One that I Want, the John Travolta - Olivia Newton-John hit from the film Grease. Arthur and Hylda's performance on Top of the Pops is the stuff of legend, and can be found on YouTube (I forbear to provide a link on this occasion). What's worse, the duo even released an LP, wittily titled Band on the Trot - 16 solid-gold tracks, from Rivers of Babylon to Save Your Kisses for Me...
  Stop me if you've heard this one, but it was a highlight of my life on the fringes of the biz we call show - I once found myself  'chatting to' Arthur Mullard at a do. When I say chatting, it was more a matter of desperate attempts at establishing any line of communication whatsoever. I hadn't been aware that Mullard was looming so close until I realised - as the sweat started from my brow - that not only was I standing facing him but everyone else had mysteriously retreated some distance and were now standing in a ring, looking on with amused interest. As well they might. Suffice to say that conversation was hampered not only by Arthur Mullard being - well - Arthur Mullard, but by his being, at this stage in his life, extremely deaf. It did not go well... If only I'd thought to take along a copy of Band on the Trot for him to autograph.


  1. It was, I think, the BBC who enrolled him as the in-house expert on Cockney rhyming slang, popping him up as and when required, lacking an √úbersetzer the only word that I could understand was yursss, I assume this meant yes. The topic of conversation Nige, was it Yeats or John Donne.

  2. One or the other I'm sure, Malty - and do you remember the famous occasion when Victor Lewis Smith (the producer!) replaced an absent Libby Purves with Arthur Mullard to chair Midweek - 'an hour of lively conversation'?