Monday 21 November 2016

Kenneth Williams Live at Two


Kenneth Williams became a doyen of the chat show during the peak of their powers in the 1970s and 1980s. He frequently appeared on the Parkinson Show and other favourites were shows fronted by the likes of Mavis Nicholson, Russell Harty and the late, great Sir Terry Wogan, with Kenneth even standing in for Wogan several times.

I had never seen this interview from the afternoon Granada show, Live at Two, first broadcast in February of 1980, shortly before Kenneth's 54th birthday. By this stage, Kenneth's acting career in its traditional sense, had already all but dried up. The Carry Ons had finished two years before and he would never make another feature film. He would never act in another drama or comedy series on television and the previous year had seen his last West End theatre appearances. 

The dawning of the 1980s would see Kenneth's career go off in different directions. He directed a couple of plays written by his late friend, the hugely talented Joe Orton. He continued to appear on a wide variety of radio programmes, chiefly the classic series Just A Minute and he began to focus on writing - both for magazines and in books - his autobiography and collections of stories. Although his acting career more or less came to an end as he became more of a personality, he did still thrive in one medium - children's television. Jackanory and Galloping Galaxies remain two of my favourites. Kenneth was a natural communicator with young children who loved his directness and childlike innocence. 

At the centre of his career would continue to be performances just like this one on the chat show circuit and he would always be a reliable guest who could turn up and talk about any given subject with an air of authority while always entertaining the masses. He hated it more and more but as the 80s progressed it became his main source of artistic outpouring. Anyway, enjoy this little appearance from 1980, it's classic Kenneth.

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  1. Thank you very much for this little gem of a clip!

    Live From Two, however, was made by Granada; the two refers not only to the time it was on, but also to the studio it was broadcast from at the Granada studios in Manchester.

    Shelly Rohde, the interviewer here, also presented many other local programmes, including a long stint presenting Granada Reports, alongside the likes of Tony Wilson and Richard Madeley.

    Thanks again, Mark