All Star Comedy Carnival – DVD Review

If you’re after a last-minute gift idea – then Network DVD have released ‘All Star Comedy Carnival’, which was a regular Christmas Day fixture on ITV between 1969 and 1973.

The 1969-1971 shows don’t exist anymore in the archives, apart from one 9 minute extract from the 1969 show, which is included here in glorious colour, from Granada Television’s hit sitcom ‘The Dustbinmen’.

The 1972 and 1973 shows are here on this DVD in full.  It’s brilliant to see them here – I’ve seen bits before, in poor quality You Tube clips – the video quality on this DVD is excellent.

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The 1972 show is 94 minutes long, and was originally transmitted between 5:45pm and 7:30pm!  Jimmy Tarbuck hosts this spectacular, a combination of efforts between the big ITV companies – Thames, LWT, Granada, etc all working together to provide material for the big Christmas Day show!

Love Thy Neighbour is the first sketch – warning: some viewers may be offended by some of the language in this segment.  We then see Rod Hull greet Jimmy Tarbuck before going into ‘Nearest and Dearest’ with Hylda Baker.  The comedy continues… ‘Father Dear Father’ with Patrick Cargill…  ‘Thirty Minutes Worth’… there’s even ‘Christmas with Wogan’ – a great tribute after his passing earlier this year.  For me, the 1972 highlight is a sketch from ‘On The Buses’ – one of my favourite comedies of all time.  I’ve never seen this sketch before, shot on film, it’s good fun… sadly no Reg Varney in the sketch.  There’s more!  We see ‘Sez Les’ – the Yorkshire TV sketch show starring Les Dawson and the final sketch is from ‘The Fenn Street Gang’.  Musical interludes too along the way!

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The 1973 show is 79 minutes long, and was originally transmitted between 6:00pm and 7:30pm!  Jimmy Tarbuck back hosting once again.  ‘Man About the House’ is the first sketch – I’ve been watching the ITV3 repeats recently, so it was great to see this stand-alone excerpt.  We then see ‘Billy Liar’, more ‘Sez Les’, a sketch from ATV Leslie Crowther sitcom ‘My Good Woman’, ‘Spring and Autumn’ and finally ‘Doctor in Charge’.

And that was it – the show didn’t return in 1974…  who knows why?  It seems a strong format, similar to the BBC’s ‘Christmas Night with the Stars’ format around the same time.  At almost three hours long, this is brilliant viewing for the festive season – that now, thankfully, we can enjoy once again.  Chris

The DVD of All Star Comedy Carnival was complimentary but all views are my own.

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