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The Comedians was a British television show of the 1970s (later reprised in the mid-1980s and early 1990s) produced by Johnnie Hamp of Granada Television. The show gave a stage to nightclub and working men's club comedians of the era, including Russ Abbot, Lennie Bennett, Stan Boardman, Jim Bowen, Jimmy Bright, Duggie Brown, Mike Burton, Jimmy Jones, Dave Butler, Brian Carroll, Frank Carson, Mike Coyne, Jimmy Cricket, Colin Crompton, Pauline Daniels, Charlie Daze, Vince Earl, Steve Faye, Eddie Flanagan, Stu Francis, Ken Goodwin, Jackie Hamilton, Jerry Harris, George King, Bobby Knutt, Bernard Manning, Mike McCabe, Paul Melba, Mick Miller, Hal Nolan, Tom O'Connor, Tom Pepper, Bryn Phillips, Mike Reid, George Roper, Harry Scott, Sammy Thomas, Johnny Wager, Roy Walker, Charlie Williams, Lee Wilson and Lenny Windsor.[1][2]

The Comedians
Directed byDave Warwick
StarringRuss Abbot
Lennie Bennett
Stan Boardman
Jim Bowen
Jimmy Bright
Duggie Brown
Mike Burton
Dave Butler
Brian Carroll
Frank Carson
Mike Coyne
Jimmy Cricket
Colin Crompton
Pauline Daniels
Charlie Daze
Vince Earl
Steve Faye
Eddie Flanagan
Stu Francis
Tony Gerrard
Ken Goodwin
Jackie Hamilton
Jerry Harris
George King
Bobby Knutt
Lee Kyle
Bernard Manning
Mike McCabe
Paul Melba
Mick Miller
Hal Nolan
Tom O'Connor
Tom Pepper
Bryn Phillips
Don Reid
Mike Reid
George Roper
Harry Scott
Freddie Stuart
Sammy Thomas
Johnny Wager
Roy Walker
Jos White
Charlie Williams
Lee Wilson
Lenny Windsor
Composer(s)Derek Hilton
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of series12
No. of episodes81
(including 3 specials)
Producer(s)Ian Hamilton
Johnnie Hamp
Production location(s)Granada Studios, Manchester
Editor(s)D .L. Hayes
Ron Swayne
Running time30 minutes
(including adverts)
Production company(s)Granada Television
DistributorITV Studios
Original networkITV
Picture format4:3
Original release12 June 1971 (1971-06-12) –
28 December 1993 (1993-12-28)

Also featured on the TV show, were Shep's banjo boys, a 7-piece band comprising (for the first 5 series) Charlie Bentley (tenor banjo), John Drury (sousaphone), Andy Holdorf (trombone), John Orchard (piano), John Rollings (drums), Graham Shepherd (banjo) and Howard Shepherd (lead banjo). In 1973, the line up was Mike Dexter (banjo), Tony "Tosh" Kennedy (sousaphone), Ged Martin (drums), Tony Pritchard (trombone), Graham Shepherd (banjo) and Howard "Shep" Shepherd (lead banjo).[2]

The Comedians began as an experiment for Granada TV. Filmed before a live audience in Manchester, comics each performed 20-minute sets, which were then edited together into half-hour shows. Each edition featured up to ten stand-up comics.

Working men's clubs are numerous in Britain, especially in North East England and have been a useful training ground for artists, especially comedians. Most of these clubs are affiliated to the CIU (Working Men's Club and Institute Union) founded in 1862 by the Rev. Henry Solly. There are also political clubs, as well as Servicemen's Clubs affiliated to the Royal British Legion.

It was remarkably popular during the earlier series. An LP recording of the show reached the best-seller charts, several sell-out national tours followed, including a season at the London Palladium, and the programme won the Critics' circle Award.

The comedy frequently took the form of anecdotes or jokes and often involved racist or sexist stereotypes. Like other British comedy successes of the day, notably, Love Thy Neighbour, this kind of entertainment was acceptable on British television during this period but would not be so today. Viewing the series in retrospect it stands as a major social document of the times.

In recent years, the series has been repeated on the (now defunct) British satellite television channel Plus, and can now be bought on DVD, having been released by Network.


DVD releasesEdit

The first seven series including a DVD set (containing the first seven series broadcast 1971–74) have been released on DVD by Network.

See alsoEdit


Series Start date End date Episodes
12 June 1971
24 July 1971
18 September 1971
30 October 1971
19 February 1972
1 April 1972
7 July 1972
2 September 1972
10 November 1972
29 December 1972
6 April 1973
25 May 1973
26 January 1974
16 March 1974
21 July 1979
1 September 1979
23 November 1979
15 February 1980
2 June 1984
16 June 1984
1 June 1985
6 July 1985
9 June 1992
23 July 1992


Date Entitle
24 December 1971
The Comedians' Christmas Party
22 December 1973
Christmas Special
28 December 1993
The Comedians' Christmas Cracker


  1. ^ Gillespie, James. "Return of the Comedians". Daily Express. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
  2. ^ a b Chris Perry (10 November 2014). The Kaleidoscope British Christmas Television Guide 1937–2013. pp. 150–. ISBN 978-1-900203-60-9.

External linksEdit