Alone, solo and by himself, with no one with him, the show business Colossasus (check that) takes us back on a journey through his early career. Using the latest technology and all that (I presume we’ve got a projector?) he will be delving into his own personal box of video cassettes and talking us (you) through the highlights of his glittering tv career, with many of his trademark stories we’ve come to love him for. If you only buy one ticket for something this year make sure it’s this and bring someone with you. You won’t be disappointed by him (me).
Count Arthur Strong will be recording two more episodes of his radio sitcom very soon.
Count Arthur Strong’s Radio Show! first aired on BBC Radio 4 in 2005 and ran for 7 series until 2012 when the former variety star transferred to BBC TV in his eponymous sitcom which was nominated for a BAFTA and was voted 4th best sitcom of the 21st Century in the Radio Times. Count Arthur Strong broadcast its third and final series on BBC1 in May and June, contending with a run broken by this year’s snap election and extended Wimbledon coverage.
In recent years Count Arthur Strong’s Radio Show has continued with seasonal specials, many of which have been broadcast on Christmas Day. Having won the Sony Award for Best Radio comedy in 2009, the series was voted the Best Radio Sitcom by The British Comedy Guide in 2016 (and many thanks to all of you who voted).
This year the BBBC have commissioned two episodes of Count Arthur Strong’s Radio Show!, one of which will be a Christmas special for this year with the 50th episode being broadcast later in 2018. We will be recording these on Monday 13th November 2017 at the Lowry in Salford. It’s going to be a great night with all the radio show regulars. We will start promptly at 7:30PM. For more information about The Lowry please click here or go to https://www.thelowry.com/
Hi Please note that you will not be able to get tickets direct from the venue box office or from any other online ticketing site. Last year they sold out in a matter of hours so don’t leave it too late. Good luck and hope to see you there.
Arthur will be appearing in Aladdin at the Richmond Theatre in London this festive season from 9th December to the 14th January
Also starring panto-legend Christopher Biggins, Fascinating Aïda and West End star Issy Van Randwyck and comedian Rikki Jay, we follow Aladdin, his hapless brother and of course his mother, Widow Twankey, on a spectacular adventure featuring a beautiful love story, flying carpets, a wish-granting genie, an evil sorcerer and a lamp packed full of spectacular family entertainment.
Aladdin promises all the ingredients of the perfect pantomime; a fabulous cast and orchestra, laugh-out-loud comedy, stunning scenery and special effects, beautiful costumes and plenty of boos and hisses for all the family to enjoy… and best of all, Count Arthur Strong!
So, jump aboard a high-flying, magical carpet headed for Old Peking and make tickets for this year’s spectacular Richmond Theatre pantomime one of your three wishes.
Count Arthur Strong, showbiz legend and raconteur, has long claimed a close friendship with 70s It Girl Anita Harris. They now return to release a special record together to aurally consummate their professional relationship. The 7″ vinyl single will be released on the 17th February. Buyers will also have access to a private area where they can download the music and watch the video we made of the recording. To pre-order, go to https://www.countarthurstrong.com/product/somethingstupid/
Count Arthur’s legendary and some might say effortless ascent to showbiz reverence is well documented, not least by Arthur himself in his memoirs “Through It All I’ve Always Laughed”. Anita Harris has had a breath-taking career spanning over fifty years which started when, as a 15 year old, she was spotted on a London ice rink. She has since appeared in two Carry On films, graced the top of the pop charts, become a pantomime legend as Peter Pan, starred in Cats in the West End for 13 years and featured in 7 Royal Command Performances.
Together they are releasing a cover of the Frank and Nancy Sinatra song “Something Stupid”. The B-Side will see Arthur attack “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers.
The results of the Comedy.co.uk Awards 2016 have been revealed and Count Arthur Strong’s Radio Show! Christmas Specials have been voted Best Radio Sitcom 2016.
When told, Count Arthur remarked “I don’t know what to say! The last thing I won was a bottle of White Horse’s in a Knobbly Knees Contest at Butlins, Pwllheli. This is almost as good as that! Apart from the White Horse’s, obviously. I’m sure I speak for all at Komedia Entertainment and Smooth Operations when I say “thank you to all who voted for it/us”… What do I get?”
This is the 11th year British Comedy Guide has run its annual awards. Television event The British Comedy Awards have not taken place since 2014, making the Comedy.co.uk Awards one of the only chances for British comedy programmes and those who create and star in them to be celebrated, and the only awards in which the results are decided entirely by the public.
Tens of thousands of comedy fans cast votes over the past fortnight, first narrowing down all 346 comedy programmes broadcast on radio and television in 2016 into shortlists of six in each category, and then voting again to determine the eventual winners.
A huge thank you to them and many congratulations to everyone involved.
Count Arthur Strong’s new DVD release will be available from the 17th February and is available to pre-order from the website. Click here to get your copy. You can also get it digitally and it will be available for the first time on iTunes and Amazon later in the spring.
Count Arthur Strong, showbiz legend and raconteur, returns to the stage to remind us just what we’ve been missing… so get your Maltesers out, roll your trouser legs up and sit back and enjoy this wonderful show.
Arthur is ably assisted in the Command Performance by Terry Kilkelly (from BBC Radio 4’s award winning Count Arthur Strong’s Radio Show!) playing Malcolm and Renee, and Dave Plimmer (from BBC1’s BAFTA nominated Count Arthur Strong TV series) as Alan Leslie.
Count Arthur Strong and the comforts of traditional sitcom.
by Louisa Mellor
26 Sep 2016
There’s a period a little while after a family death, after the days spent in a traffic jam of errands, decisions and phone calls, when you have to merge back into the regular lane. Normal life demands to re-start. The fridge needs filling and the lawn needs mowing, even if, impossibly, the person who usually does both has vanished forever.
For my family like most others, normal life means watching television. Telly is the cradle that rocked us through the decades. Whatever happened to us happened against a backdrop of soaps and sitcoms.
Losing our dad though, changed things. In the flayed-skin sensitivity of the days around his funeral, flicking through the channels meant running a gauntlet. A murder on EastEnders brought unwelcome ambulances and coroners back into our living room. We winced at the mention of a hospital or autopsy. Heart attacks, we discovered, lie in wait in the least expected places – Grand Designs, formerly harmless, had to come temporarily off the menu after just such an ambush.
(I’d never really noticed before, but TV is full of people having heart attacks. Not to mention the corpses. TV loves a corpse.)
The answer was to limit what we watched. Soaps and dramas were out, previously vetted films on DVD were in. Nothing was risked that might prove too moving. Quiz shows were especially safe ground so Pointless and Eggheads became a daily ritual.
Sitcoms though, proved the best escape. They could expand or shrink to fill the available time – in single instalments a brief accompaniment to one of the ceaselessly made cups of tea (those inseparable twins, tea and pain) or by the series, a full evening’s distraction guaranteed not to jolt or unsettle. We prescribed ourselves familiar and comforting stuff. Traditional, filmed-in-front-of-a-studio audience half-hours. Only Fools And Horses, Dad’s Army, Fawlty Towers.
They shook us back awake, those episodes. They weren’t just a way to pass time, but a way to remember that life was still good. And, unbelievable as it might have felt, that it was still the same. Their familiarity was better comfort than the well-meaning sympathy cards or the head-tilted sad smile of professionals pushing forms and chip and pin machines over desks towards you (the paperwork involved in death is no joke). “Don’t tell him, Pike!”, Sybil saying “I know”, Trigger calling Rodney ‘Dave’… Dad had laughed at this, exactly this, countless times. Laughing at it now, together, was a shortcut straight to him.
Once the old favourites had been burned through, we moved on to newer stuff. Bright, silly, Miranda was a saviour. Ditto for Dinnerladies and The Vicar Of Dibley. Seeing my mum’s head thrown back, eyes closed in sheer fucking glee and laughing tears at Mrs Brown’s Boys in those sad, hard weeks after she lost dad makes me ever grateful to that show (and short on patience with the self-satisfied assumption that broad, filthy laughs are less deserving than cerebral, ironic ones.)
It backfired every so often. Not only because sitcoms aren’t always death-free – thank God for that, if they were we’d never have had Basil and Polly pushing around a prematurely expired guest in a laundry basket – but because even the lightest, most colourful sitcoms can swiftly turn a corner towards poignancy. The best ones almost always do.
Enter: Count Arthur Strong.
In 2013, Steve Delaney’s long-running BBC Radio 4 comedy series about an aged, deluded variety performer arrived on television following a collaboration with sitcom machine Graham Linehan (The IT Crowd, Father Ted, Black Books).
Based on a character Delaney first performed at drama school and successfully continued to the Edinburgh Fringe, the radio series was a showcase for Delaney’s expertly rambling monologues. The radio ‘Count’ Arthur (a stage name possibly ratified following a chance encounter with the Queen Mother’s foot) is a vainglorious Northern luvvie whose mouth and brain rarely arrive at the same place at the same time. He ties himself up in boasts and mispronounced pronouncements, pursuing erratic trains of thought until they derail and burst into flames.
Arthur is ridiculous, frustrating and, like most classic comedy characters, you’ve definitely met a watered down version of him in real life. And probably crossed the road to avoid him.
Again like most classic comedy characters, Arthur’s personality can also be explained as symptomatic of a psychological disorder. His form of lifelong dementia causes him to take wrong conversational turns, ending up back where he started but spitting mad at contradictory conclusions he’s drawn independently of anyone he’s talking to.
Every so often, it makes him an unwitting hero (whatever Arthur achieves is unwitting). See him pay a cold caller back for every minute they’ve wasted of other people’s lives or turn the tables on a scam artist preying on the elderly and vulnerable by cheerily channelling Kathy Bates in Misery.
With the absurdity of Arthur and his meandering speeches at its centre, the radio series never really developed its supporting cast beyond what was required. There’s Jerry the cafe owner, one or two of Arthur’s friends and an acting protege with roughly as much hope as his mentor of making it big.
That all changed when the series moved across to television. The collaboration with Linehan introduced a character who wouldn’t only be the ideal foil for unembarrassable Arthur but would also provide an emotional story against which Arthur’s antics could be set.
Played by Rory Kinnear, swapping the RSC for a brightly lit cafe set, Michael is a middle-class writer whose estranged father was part of a variety double-act with Arthur before he dropped the Count and hit the light entertainment big time. In series one, Michael seeks out Arthur for help writing a book about his now-dead father’s life.
Kinnear’s Michael is what drives the TV series forward. More than any of the cartoonish regulars at Bulent’s Cafe, the London hub of Arthur’s activities, his character creates story and grounds the show in reality. He’s there to point out the flaws in Arthur’s version of things and be horrified by his obliviousness to social decorum. Intensely self-conscious and kept in a state of almost perpetual exasperation by Arthur’s self-serving plans and schemes, Michael is the sanity to Arthur’s delusion.
Or at least that’s how he sees it. The more Arthur prospers, or at least comes off unscathed from his various scrapes, the more Michael is forced to acknowledge that if there’s not exactly method in Arthur’s madness, there are at least other ways to live than painstakingly by the rules.
Michael isn’t simply the straight man. Brilliant as Steve Delaney’s performance as Arthur is—and it is brilliant—Kinnear’s is also exemplary. Watch him expertly wring every drop of comedy from the word “assignations” in a series two scene and you’ll need no further proof.
As Arthur though, Delaney is one of those rare comedy performers who can crease you up just by standing still. Not that Arthur is really capable of standing still, as illustrated by his doomed attempt to make cash as a living statue. (After much scientific study, I’ve concluded that Delaney must have twice the muscles in his face than the average person. Only that can explain his precise mastery over Arthur’s alternately twitching, furrowed, delighted forehead.)
Delaney’s performance is the foundation of it all. He’s immediately funny in the way Michael Crawford as Frank Spencer, Ardal O’Hanlon as Father Dougal and Julie Walters as Mrs Overall are immediately funny. He’s funny before he’s said a single word, and then even funnier after he’s done that. It’s such a strong visual performance, you might wonder how the radio series worked at all. That it did, and still does (there was a Christmas special in 2015), shows the strength of Delaney’s voice work and his and Graham Duff’s writing.
The TV series though, is on a different level. It’s taken Arthur from self-regarding twerp to exhausting but loveable favourite. The audience is invited to treat him with the same fondness and tolerance shown by Sinem (Zahra Ahmadi), the smart, kind sister to Chris Ryman’s apoplectic cafe owner Bulent, to whom Arthur will always be “idiot man”.
The oddballs in Bulent’s cafe share a kind of Cheers dynamic; they might be life’s losers, but they’re life’s losers together, and even Michael–the Frasier Crane of the group–needs them like family.
The surprising poignancy of Michael and Arthur’s developing friendship, along with Michael’s ongoing infatuation with Sinem, provide an emotional undertow that caught me unawares on a first watch. Mid-clownish silliness (among the cafe’s other regulars are Andy Linden as East End enigma John the Watch, and Dave Plimmer’s Eggy, a melancholic egg industry truther), Count Arthur Strong can pivot into a genuinely moving moment, then pivot back to fun absurdity.
It wasn’t an entirely safe choice then, back when traditional sitcom was my grief anaesthetic of choice. It overstepped the bounds by not just making me laugh like a drain, but in its terrific warmth sometimes moving me to tears. Happy, welcome, grateful tears.
Count Arthur will be recording two Christmas specials for broadcast on BBC Radio 4.
The recording of both shows will happen in front of a live audience on Saturday 22nd October at The Brewhouse Theatre in Taunton and will star all the radio show regulars. It is going to be a great night.
Please note that you will not be able to get tickets direct from the venue box office or from any other online ticketing site. Last year they sold out in a matter of hours so don’t leave it too late. Good luck and hope to see you there.
You can now order the DVD of the second BBC TV series here.
Count Arthur Strong – The Complete Second Series is now available and features all seven episodes from the series, complete and uncut, alongside a host of special features, some commissioned especially for the release.
Created, written by and starring Steve Delaney in the title role as the pompously delusional Count Arthur, Rory Kinnear co-stars as Michael, a perpetually nervous writer and the son of Arthur’s late comedy partner.
In this series Arthur is resting on his ample laurels and, with the belief the “next big thing” is only a phone call away, he whiles away his time by writing a novel full of damaging showbiz gossip – much to Michael’s horror. Brushes with politics and a disastrous flying lesson, however, pale into insignificance when Arthur has to move in with Michael in the aftermath of yet another ‘trouser fire’.
We are thrilled to announce that Count Arthur Strong’s TV show has been voted the 4th best British sitcom of the 21st century in a poll by the Radio Times
The top three were Mrs Brown’s Boys,The Office and Peter Kay’s Car Share.Count Arthur Strong came next followed by the IT Crowd, whilst the top 20 also saw appearances from Gavin & Stacey, Miranda, Peep Show, Benidorm, The Inbetweeners and Caitlin Moran’s recently axed Raised By Wolves.
The top 20 was compiled from a shortlist of the 40 most-watched sitcoms since 2000 and received more than 14,000 votes.