Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Dick Emery: Legacy of Murder

Today a show I was delighted to discover on YouTube (unfortunately the channel I downloaded the episodes from has gone now, so unless they are elsewhere online the only option is one unofficial DVD release): I love Dick Emery and while he plays several characters, this series is different from the sketch shows I remember him from, because it is an actual story in which Emery stars as a shambolic private eye who is hired with his assistant to locate six people connected with the estate of a deceased aristocrat. The fact that Emery plays most of the characters he seeks is not cheap, but in the grand tradition of Kind Hearts and Coronets.
Here is the history of the show, lifted from here
In 1979, Dick Emery had jumped ship to ITV, a year later in 1980 he returned to the BBC with his popular Dick Emery Show.  By 1982 Emery was growing tired of the existing format of his BBC show and wanted to find new avenues to explore.
Using a new format and character, Jewish private detective Bernie Weinstock, Emery had found a new avenue, producing two series of comedy thrillers under the banner Emery Presents.  These aired on the BBC between 1982 and 1983.  The first series of Emery presents was entitled Legacy of Murder, whilst the second was entitled Jack Of Diamonds, which was broadcast six months after the star’s death.
The show is peopled with all the familiars from Emery's world - the vicars, the old ladies, eccentric aristocrats and what have you. In my own opinion this world is delightful. If you can't find this show you can see into the same world in his TV sketch shows and the film Ooh You Are Awful, all widely available. The only proviso would be that his humour is distinctly old fashioned in its attitudes, and hence unfashionable but never malicious.
The sidekick also has an important role (Tony Selby stars as the sidekick in the other series, and he will be familiar to readers of this blog, in fact I posted a picture of him in The Sweeney a few weeks ago). In this series the sidekick is Barry Evans who may be familiar to viewers from Mind Your Language, but is probably better known for starring in 1970s sex comedies in the Adventures series. I see that Evans is one of the tragic figures of the TV world, and ended up as a cab driver before his untimely death.
The only thing I don't like about this series is that it has a laughter track, but of course that is personal taste.
Finally Emery delights me by using a uniquely Birmingham idiom in this show, when a milkman says that it's black over Will's mother's. That is a Birmingham idiom which means it's going to rain and the clouds are gathering over Stratford upon Avon before coming and dropping rain on the city. Will is of course Will Shakespeare.

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