The 1970’s remains a fascinating era for comedy historians to study as a result of the the gentle deviation from traditional front of cloth entertainment which the public had been bred on for generations. Suddenly audiences demanded something different as the baby boomers grew up with a totally new kind of taste in entertainment. The influx of underground folk music would have a dominant influence on the new showbiz landscape as Variety was slowly replaced by comedy storytelling. Pioneered by Billy Connolly in Scotland, Mike Harding and Jasper Carrott in the midlands, this revolution required a southern representative and by the mid seventies they had one.
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Writer and musician Richard Digance began his career as a singer/songwriter, performing comedy songs in and around the London area during the late 1960’s. Before long he realised that the patter he created in between songs was proving a popular aspect to his act. Popular with teenagers and students, this style of entertainment gathered momentum and in time would be the new Rock ‘n’ Roll. The rise of university review was vital to the development of Richard’s career as suddenly he had a very definite audience who easily related to the messages in his songs. Such a following sustained his career throughout the 1970’s as he toured around the UK.
The opportunity to support the American comedian Steve Martin on an American stadium tour was too good to turn down. It was here that Digance learned the real disciplines of showbusiness from this comedy giant who taught him the true meaning of humility. Martin’s innate ability to switch between his on and off screen persona was something that really appealed to the young entertainer and the pair soon developed a rapport. Richard was in awe of his ability to create a larger than life persona for the screen which endeared him to millions while preserving his real life image of a shy, introverted individual. As a reserved soul himself, Richard was able to identify with this method and was able to inherit such a technique for his own act.
Returning to the UK Richard secured appearances on the BBC’s seminal late night music show The Old Grey Whistle Test. By this time, the comedic patter which had proved popular in the northern working men’s clubs and also throughout the USA had now become a firm staple of his set. Being the only musical act on the show to offer such an interlude to straight music, Digance was invited to appear on a follow up episode presented by the whispering Bob Harris. This provided invaluable grounding for Richard to get comfortable with the medium which he would go on to make a formidable contribution to in the years to come.
Joining Thames Television in 1985 secured Richard his first TV special A Dabble With Digance featuring newsreader Carol Barnes. This was the springboard to Richard’s TV success which resulted in him collaborating with the cream of entertainment including Jimmy Tarbuck, Cilia Black, Bob Monkhouse and Jim Davidson. His first BBC comedy appearance came on a 1987 episode of The Ronnie Corbett Show which meant a lot to the Two Ronnies fan which brought him to the attention of TV executives. A string of TV appearances followed Richard into the nineties where he became one of the biggest stars on the box. Yet a love of theatre and live performance always lured Richard back to the thing he loves most: the art of live performance and by 1996 he was ready for a change.
Casting television aside during the mid nineties, Richard was back on the road with his trusted guitar doing what he does best. When he wasn’t on the road, he wrote a repertoire of books retailing stories from a life on the road. As a songwriter he has penned scores for TV theme tunes including the BBC’s Countryfile. Over twenty albums of comedy songs sold worldwide, Digance has now a whole back catalogue of music which he regularly performs to a live audience throughout the UK. For him, the thrill of performing is to witness the joy in the public’s eyes brought on by either one of his quick one liners or a humorous ditty. This is what maintains his youth and even at the age of seventy, it’s clear to see that the comedian is still hopelessly in love with what he does. It was an absolute honour to meet and interview the legendary Richard Digance and with a formidably fascinating career behind him, it’s exciting to see what awaits him next.