Dick Emery: Wikis


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Dick Emery
Born Richard Gilbert Emery
19 February 1915
Bloomsbury, London, England
Died 2 January 1983 (aged 67)
Denmark Hill, London, England
Years active 1946-1983
Spouse(s) Victoria Chambers (two children), Iris Tully (one child), Irene Ansell, Joan Sainsbury (one child), Josephine Blake (1969–1983)

Richard Gilbert "Dick" Emery (19 February 1915 – 2 January 1983) was an English comedian and actor , 'a light entertainment icon' who began on radio in the 1950s. After transition to television his popularity grew through the 1960s and 1970s. He was the brother of Ann Emery.


Life and career

Richard Gilbert Emery was born in University College Hospital, Bloomsbury, London in 1915.[1] His parents were the comedy double act Callan and Emery. They took him on tour when he was only 3 weeks old and gave him the occasional turn on the stage throughout his childhood, which was always on the move and disrupted, creating problems for the future, but at least setting the scene for eventually going into show business. His parents split up when he was 8 years old and he chose to stay with his mother, who gave up 'showbiz'. [2] He tried a variety of jobs before the stage: office boy, farm hand, and driving instructor. During World War II he was called up to the RAF, but joined the chorus line of The Merry Widow at the Majestic Theatre, London, instead, for which he was imprisoned for desertion. Once released he joined the Gang Show ("I was better in drag than combat gear") and created Vera Thin ('the Forces' Sweetheart'), loosely based on Vera Lynn.

After the war he auditioned for various parts and in 1952 he starred in a role in a 15-minute Radio Luxembourg series on Saturdays at 7pm called Chance of a Lifetime. This was a quiz sponsored by Marshall Ward in which merchandise to the value of £30 was given to contestants.

During 1953 he briefly formed a double act with Charlie Drake[3].

His TV debut came in 1950 on The Centre Show on the BBC. Throughout the 1950s he appeared on programmes including Round the Bend (BBC, 1955-56) and Educating Archie (ITV, 1958-59) before appearing with his friend Tony Hancock in several episodes of The Tony Hancock Show (ITV, 1956) and Hancock's Half Hour in 1957.

He enhanced his reputation on two series with former Goon Michael Bentine: After Hours (ITV, 1958-59) and It's a Square World (BBC, 1960-64). His role as Private Chubby Catchpole in the final series of The Army Game (ITV 1957-61) led to an exclusive BBC contract, and the long-running The Dick Emery Show (BBC, 1963-81) was born.[citation needed]

The show, which ran irregularly from 1963 to 1981, involved dressing up as various characters, 'a flamboyant cast of comic grotesques'. These included the buck-toothed Church of England vicar, sex-starved, menopausal, man-eating spinster Hettie, and Clarence, an outrageously camp man who coined the catchphrase "Hallo Honky Tonk". Other roles were gormless denim-clad bovver boy Gaylord (in a double act with his long suffering father, played by Roy Kinnear) where, each week, he would mess up and utter the catchphrase "Dad, I think I got it wrong again", the crusty pensioner James Maynard Kitchener Lampwick, and Mandy, a busty middle-aged peroxide blonde whose catchphrase, "Ooh, you are awful ... but I like you!" ( given in response to a seemingly innocent remark made by her 'protagonist' but perceived by her as ribald double entendre), preceded a hefty shove on the shoulder of the 'protagonist', and a prompt about-turn walk-off with a leg trip. The high heels and the wig, anyone of a certain age will remember vividly. "It was clever, pure vaudeville, in a television form." (Michael Grade). Mandy's catchphrase became the title of Emery's British Lion film in 1972. The plot of this comedy centred on Emery hunting down a bank account number. The digits of the number are tattooed on the bottoms of four young women. The plot centres on Emery's ploys to see the girls naked, which requires disguises.

In a sporadic film career he made his debut in the Goons' The Case of the Mukkinese Battle Horn (directed by Joseph Sterling, 1956). He also played bungling bank robber Booky Binns in the The Big Job (directed by Gerald Thomas, 1965) and was known for vocal talents as an array of characters including 'The Nowhere Man Jeremy Hilary Boob' in the Beatles' Yellow Submarine (directed by George Dunning, 1968)

In 1979, Emery moved to ITV for three one-hour specials. He returned to the BBC in 1980 and resumed The Dick Emery Show.

Emery appeared in films including School For Scoundrels (1960), The Fast Lady (1962), Baby Love (1968) and Ooh… You Are Awful (1972).

Emery also released several novelty records during his career, most notably "If You Love Her" which reached no.32 in 1969, and "You Are Awful" which just missed the top 40 in 1973. [4] Other singles included "A Cockney Christmas" (1962), "You're The Only One" (1974) and "Rocking Horse Cowboy" (1979).

Emery Presents

Finding a new format and character, Jewish private detective Bernie Weinstock, Emery had a new outlet - two series of comedy thrillers under the banner Emery Presents (BBC, 1982-83).

  • Legacy of Murder (IMDb)
  • Jack of Diamonds (IMDb)

Personal life

When not working as a comedian, he enjoyed aviation, motorcycling, scale model model-making (he was chairman of the Airfix Modellers' Club), and wrote a review feature for Meccano Magazine during 1971. He was keen on 'long legs and blondes' and was often in the newspapers with beautiful women, and was in six long term relationships, marrying the first five.

He died in Denmark Hill, London from heart failure and respiratory failure at the age of 67 [5].

While the public took him to heart (voting him BBC TV Personality of the Year in 1972), Emery suffered stage fright and fear of failure. He underwent analysis, hypnosis and sedatives to try and cure these problems. He told Roy Kinnear: "I don't just envy the confidence that other comics seem to have, I resent it. I hate them for it, just like my dad did. If there's such a thing as a chip off the old block, it's on my shoulder."[citation needed]

Dick Emery married five times ( Joan Sainsbury, Irene Ansell, Iris Tully, Victoria Chambers - with whom he had a daughter Eliza who is a singer, and Josephine Blake). [6] He was still married to Josephine at the time of his death and had left her to live with Fay Hillier, a showgirl, 30 years younger than himself.

He is survived by his four children Gil, Nick, Michael and Eliza.[citation needed]

The Dick Emery Show was re-aired in the UK on (the now defunct) Granada Plus, ITV4 and UKTV Drama. The show is now being screened on the G.O.L.D. comedy channel, only in small snips lasting around 5 to 15 minutes.


Emery's humour is still admired by comic actors such as Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse. His influence can be seen in 'The Lovely Wobbly Randy Old Ladies' played by Kathy Burke and Harry Enfield, with their catch phrase "Ooh, young man!", and in the performances of David Walliams and Matt Lucas in Little Britain. His programmes were among the first shot entirely on film as long-form comedy narratives, in which Emery's characters interacted within an hour-long story.


  1. ^ GRO Register of Births: MAR 1915 1b 88 PANCRAS - Richard G Emery, mmn = Callan
  2. ^ Dick Emery: the Comedy of Errors? BBC Radio 2 29/9/2009
  3. ^ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/1537814/Charlie-Drake.html
  4. ^ http://www.chartstats.com/artistinfo.php?id=2074
  5. ^ GRO Register of Deaths: MAR 1983 14 0006 LAMBETH - Richard Gilbert Emery, DoB = 19 Feb 1915
  6. ^ Dick Emery:the Comedy of Errors? BBC Radio 2 29/9/09

External links

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