Celebrating forty five years in showbusiness in 2018, comedian and entertainer Brian Conley is back on the road with his brand new show The Greatest Entertainer In His Price Range. Beginning his entertainment career as a warm up man for 1980’s Light Entertainment shows such as the BBC’s Wogan show, Conley was able to learn about the business from roots up, something that he feels is missing in today’s X Factor Generation.
Press play, below, to listen to the full interview
Toying with television throughout the 1980’s, Brian struggled to find a vehicle which would showcase his talents as an all round entertainer. Appearances on variety shows including Live At Her Majesty’s helped to raise his profile and made him a recognisable face on television. Still being new to the small screen, Brian had yet to figure out which of his many talents he was going to bring to the fore. He could sing, dance, act and be funny, all with the same confident enthusiasm which made him the perfect turn on these big budget variety shows of the day and it wasn’t long before producers were snapping him up for his own television formats. In an era when Variety and Light Entertainment seemed outdated and phoney, Brian Conley’s cheeky chappie sense of humour would in time make shiny floor Saturday night entertainment relevant for 1990’s Britain.
In 1993 LWT launched The Brian Conley Show giving birth to a whole host of memorable comic creations including; Nick Frisbee and Larry the Lofer, Septic Peg and Dangerous Brian. With one foot firmly in the era of traditional variety, this format showcased Brian’s raw talent as an all round entertainer. He could sing, dance (a little!) tell jokes and interact with the audience: the perfect formula for Saturday night entertainment. The Brian Conley Show survived for over a decade until August 2002 when talent shows began to dominate the airwaves, possibly marking the end of an era for family Light Entertainment shows. Despite this, Brian had created a plethora of lovable characters which are still fondly remembered over fifteen years on.
Beyond television success, Brian has also enjoyed a varied theatrical career ever since his 1995 portrayal of Al Jolson in the musical of his namesake, a role which secured him a prestigious Olivier award nomination for best actor. Relatively forgotten about in today’s politically correct society, despite the obvious racial undertones, Jolson was an extremely talented performer and it was great for Brian to pay tribute to his hero and one of Britain’s first nationwide stars in such a public way. This was the first major theatrical role in a long list ranging from Edna Turnblad in Hairspray to Fagin in Oliver and it’s obvious from how passionate he speaks of his theatrical career that Conley isn’t done with musicals yet…
In 2017 Brian Conley was back on Saturday nights on BBC1’s heavyweight extravaganza Strictly Come Dancing. Partnered by newcomer Amy Dowden, he survived the public vote and judges comments until week five. This was somewhat of a disappointment for Brian who has been entertaining audiences for over forty years with sprinkles of dance ability. Yet he admits that it’s primarily an entertainment show and every aspect is in place for entertainment purposes. Craig Revel-Hopwood is just a character which he plays for the duration of the show and is nothing like his on screen persona. On the whole, Brian remains very thankful of his Strictly experience and is looking forward to watching this year’s series.
2018 has already been a big year for Brian Conley. Not only is he back on tour with his brand new show The Greatest Entertainer…In His Price Range, but he’s also back on our television screens with the Channel Four game show Buy It Now (weekdays Channel Four 5:30pm). To see Brian on stage in full command of an audience is something to admire and his new live show is the epitome of this. Hysterically funny and partially unscripted, Brian has the ability to hold a whole theatre full of people in the palm of his hand for up to two hours. Like all great comics, he has the power to make the audience part of his act while maintaining everyone’s dignity so that it’s nearly impossible for anyone to get offended… Well, almost. This may go some way to explaining the secret to his success and longevity.
It was a great pleasure to meet the one and only Brian Conley and may he keep Britain laughing for many years to come.