Throughout the glory days of Light Entertainment from the 1940’s to the 1980’s, it was the norm for Britain’s best loved comedians to employ a team of gag writers to assist with their ever-growing need for material. Suddenly what was once considered a forgotten profession was now a celebrated art form and everyone from Morecambe and Wise to Jimmy Tarbuck demanded the cream of UK writing talent to ensure their place within the annals of British comedy.
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Colin Edmonds began his illustrious career in comedy at the tender age of sixteen when he sold jokes to a whole host of comics including his hero Bob Monkhouse. Monkhouse was so impressed with the material he generated that he persuaded his agent, the late great Peter Prichard, to take him on. This prompted Colin to be considered as Monkhouse’s lead gag writer and despite Peter Prichard not knowing about the art of scriptwriting, he still knew what material would work for Bob. This proved successful when negotiating deals with TV networks as more often than not Bob and Colin came as a package. So throughout the eighties and nineties, whether it was Family Fortunes, Celebrity Squares, The National Lottery Live or Wipeout, Colin would always be present to aid Bob with gags and has since inherited the infamous Bob Monkhouse joke book which notoriously went missing from BBC Television Centre in 1995.
His work with Bob Monkhouse was to gain Colin acclaim among showbiz circles and it wasn’t long before many comics and entertainers were lining up to have Colin write their material. In 1978 the BBC unveiled a new panel based game show entitled Blankety Blank originally presented by the late great Sir Terry Wogan. Just like Monkhouse, here was a man in command of both his audience and the English language so writing for Wogan was an absolute joy for Colin. Therefore, you can imagine Colin’s delight when he found himself reunited with Terry for BBC Proms in the Park during the late nineties. Although Wogan often confessed not to be a comedian, you can tell from the way Colin talks about him that writing material for the king of the TOGs (Terry’s Old Geezers) was something he still continues to hold in very high regard.
Colin remained as lead writer on Blankety Blank for the best part of the eighties and saw the show through a change in presenter from Terry Wogan to Les Dawson. A natural intellect, Dawson felt more at home talking about nineteenth century literature and poetry than he did about comedy. So in order to relate to him and his work, Colin was required to engage in a whole host of highbrow conversations ranging from ancient philosophy to romantic literature. It seems ironic that someone of such intellectual standing was in fact lowering himself to compère a family game show and Dawson would regularly reinforce this sentiment to the director, Stanley Appel.
When comedy changed during the late eighties, writers slowly became redundant through the rise of ‘The Superstar Comedians’ who aptly wrote all their own material. This left Colin unsure of his next career move. He still contributed material to BBC Radio 2’s Friday Night Is Music Night but just lacked something he could get his teeth into. Then came the idea to write a steampunk crime comedy drama thriller entitled Steam, Smoke and Mirrors surrounding dual protagonists superintendent William Melville and his assistant Phoebe Le Breton. Later this year, the long awaited sequel to Steam, Smoke and Mirrors is released entitled The Lazarus Curiosity and is sure to be yet another hit for the man of many talents.
It was an absolute pleasure to spend an afternoon with Colin and may he keep entertaining us for many years to come.