I drafted this post before seeing a comprehensive piece on Padraig Colman’s blog,
Al Read was a popular comedian on BBC radio during the post-war decades. I don’t suppose many under the age of 70 have heard of him. He was born in Salford in 1909 and worked as a sausage maker in his father’s business before show business claimed him. He became a national figure in the 1950s and 1960s through his radio ‘The Al Read Show’, where he promoted his catchphrases ‘Right, Monkey!’ and ‘You’ll be lucky – I say, you’ll be lucky!’ He died in 1987.
His humour was grounded in careful observation of the working class in the north of England. The acts I best remember were the dialoguesbetween husband and wife, in which he played both parts. He always introduced the female part with the unashamedly non-PC ‘It’s the wife, from the kitchen’. The male part was the stereotypical hen-pecked husband, who was faced with onslaughts such as ‘Are you gonna cut that grass, or are you gonna wait till it comes in the ’all?’ Here’s a sample.
One of his predecessors in this tradition was Robb Wilton. Considerably older than Al Read, he was born in 1881 and died in 1957. His act consisted of monologues, of which the best known were perhaps those he introduced with ‘The day war broke out, my missus, she said to me, she said . . .’ In the one I remember, she asks him what he’s going to do. She tells him he’ll have to get a job. His comment on that is ‘Ooh, she’s got a cruel tongue.’ You can listen to the whole thing here .