Right Said Fred – Bernard Cribbins
…Charlie had a think and he thought we ought to take off all the ‘andles, and the things what held the candles; but it did no good, well I never thought it would…
All right said Fred, have to take the door off, need more space to shift the so-and-so. Took the wall down, even with it all down we was getting nowhere and
had a cuppa tea
The song is genius. I must have first heard it sometime in 1962, when it came out, and then every year after that. It was played on the radio a lot, and particularly on the Children’s Favourites Radio 1 Saturday morning show which was DJ’d by Ed “Stewpot” Stuart from 1968 to 1980. I think it was called Junior Choice and it played pretty much the same selection of songs every week – at least that’s my not-to-be-trusted memory. They were mostly comedy gold, like this song, which concerns 3 gentlemen trying to remove a large piano (although it’s never acknowledged as a piano) from an upstairs room in a small house. They do not succeed, but drink a lot of tea. It has a marvellous selection of sound effects as the piano and the house are slowly demolished, and a particularly enjoyable spring sound, like a kind of musical punchline punctuation. Not used enough in music that spring. Written by Ted Dicks and Myles Rudge, and performed with gentle comedic charm and wit by the great Bernard Cribbins, it is my very favourite ‘novelty song’. Saturday morning we heard them all – ‘My Brother’, ‘Three Wheels On My Wagon’, ‘Nellie The Elephant’, ‘The Runaway Train’, ‘Puff The Magic Dragon’, ‘The Ugly Bug Ball’. Charlie Drake, The New Christy Minstrels, Mandy Miller, Mike Holiday, Peter, Paul & Mary, Burl Ives. What a treasury! Tommy Steele – Little White Bull, and of course Rolf Harris who was molesting children for most of his career as it was revealed in a childhood-shattering court case last year. Now filed alongside Saville and Glitter – those who abused their fame and their access to fans for decades.
But Rolf can’t tarnish my Children’s Favourites LP. I bought it when I was in my late 30s, nostalgic for those clever songs whose lyrics I knew off by heart even after all these years. Later in the 1970s came The Wombles, brilliantly narrated by Bernard Cribbins with musical accompaniment by Mike Batt, in between were TV favourites The Magic Roundabout, Crackerjack, Hergé’s Adventures Of TinTin, Thunderbirds, Star Trek, an embarrassment of riches : one day I’ll write something about Do Not Adjust Your Set which had the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band playing every week.
Thank you for indulging a Junior’s Choice. Makes me smile every time. Time for a cuppa tea.