Saturday, June 23, 2012

Stanley Unwin's grave at Long Buckby


Today I have been on a pilgrimage to Long Buckby to Northamptonshire to pay tribute to one of my comic heroes and to see if the story about the inscription on his gravestone is true. Happily, it is.

Unwin moved to Long Buckby when he started working for the BBC at the nearby Daventry transmitting station in 1940 and lived there for the rest of his life.

Although all his attempts to retire were thwarted because he was constantly being rediscovered by new generations of producers and directors, it is probably necessary now to tell my younger readers about him.

As his Guardian obituary said:
To say that Stanley Unwin, who has died aged 90, was a comedian gives no idea of his unique brand of plausible malapropisms, grammatical distortions and straightfaced nonsense. As a prewar BBC sound engineer, he befuddled private conversations and entertained his children, but, from the 1950s, he delighted a much larger audience on radio, television, stage and in films.
And it wasn't just that Unwin was admired, he was loved. The World of Stanley Unwin says:
For someone who was modesty itself and forever grateful for the opportunities he had been given, he would probably have been quite embarrassed at the length and breadth of the obituaries that appeared over the following few days: 'top billing' across seven columns in the Times; nearly a quarter page in the Guardian; two columns and a whacking great photo in the Independent, and online obits from the BBC right across to newswire agencies in Australia.
Deep joy.

I have been known to to perform an Unwinesque turn myself at the Liberal Revue, but it is harder than it sounds, because Stanley Unwin's art was to have his nonsense so nearly make sense. It is easy to overtroil and falollop as a result.

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