Reigning supreme for almost a decade as ITV’s biggest comedian, Arthur Haynes was one of the most influential and popular comics that television has ever seen. His shows remained firmly in the top ten until his untimely death in 1966. Now the seventh and final volume of his ATV produced series is to be released on DVD.
“His untimely death in 1966 robbed the world of a comedy genius. Lack of repeats ensured that subsequent generations were denied Haynes’ comedic brilliance – until now.” – Network
Haynes got his television break on ATV’s Strike a New Note variety series, with several appearances on it and its later incarnation Get Happy in 1956 the company offered him his own series. Launching in 1957 The Arthur Haynes Show would run for nine years and amazing fifteen series. These consisted of 95 thirty-minute shows, 62 thirty-five-minute shows and one fifty-minute show.
Written by written by Dick Barry, Johnny Speight and John Antrobus, the show cemented Haynes as the most popular comedian in Britain at that time. Haynes’s most popular character was a working class, with a row of medals on his chest, tramp — created by writer Johnny Speight of Alf Garnett fame.
ATV publicity at the time note that the tramp character was pulled from real life events after Speight had a run-in with a real down-and-out who climbed into his Rolls Royce when he came to a halt at a road crossing.
The show’s format was one which would become a standard format for many comedians in later years including Tommy Cooper and Larry Grayson mixing comedy with music interludes. Haynes had a diverse range of guests performing on his shows over the years including Dusty Springfield, Kenny Ball, Joe Brown, Mick Jaggar, Matt Monro and Jackie Trent to name a few. The shows also made a star of Nicholas Parsons, who had first appeared with Haynes in Strike a New Note and Get Happy and who tended to play supercilious neighbours and authority figures in the comedy sketches.
“A forgotten king of British TV comedy, Arthur Haynes enjoyed ten years topping the bill on the commercial channel. With his natural ability to mimic actions and mannerisms and thus portray character so well, and with cracking scripts from Johnny Speight, The Arthur Haynes Show made for compelling viewing.” – BBC Comedy Guide.
Haynes received the Variety Club’s award as ITV Personality of 1961 and appeared on the Royal Variety Performance in the same year. Eventually, as the public began to recognise Parsons’ skill as a straight man, Haynes decided to dispense with his services. Other stars also made early appearances: in 1962 Michael Caine played a burglar burgling the same house as Haynes’s character. Haynes had a good singing voice, which he rarely used on TV, and in 1960 performed a sketch called The Haynes Brothers, where he and Dickie Valentine, wearing a moustache, sang together.
The show began production at an old theatre in the North London town of Wood Green, before transferring to ATV Elstree in 1961, the arrival at the new studios came with a press launch which saw Nicholas Parsons, Haynes and other cast members arrive in front of the press at the car park in an open top Alvis Cabriolet car. (pictured Right)
Haynes died of a heart attack in 1966 at the age of 52, shortly after he returned from America, where he had appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, a sixteenth series of The Arthur Haynes Show had been partically written, but none of the material was recorded.
“This seventh and final collection of classic episodes returns him to his rightful place among the comedy greats.” – Network