- Tuesday 11th May 2021, 4:21pm [Edited]
- 19,075 posts
Never heard of them, but yet again, a superb Chronicle from Graham McCann on them in particular and the demise of the comedy duo in general.
First one too, where I burst out laughing with this, and I quote :-
They were hired to do a 'turn', as Barry would later put it, at a local pensioners' party 'where they were having cheese and onion sandwiches, and the presenter didn't know how to announce us'.
'My wife Pauline', Barry would reveal, looked at the plate of sandwiches, looked at the two men (immediately discarding, presumably, the options of naming them 'Plate and Sandwiches') , and 'came up with "Cheese and Onion" - and it stuck'. Barry Neal thus became known as Barry Cheese, and Mike Knight became Mike Onion.
Their real names were Barry Neal and Michael Knight, and you would have thought the alliteration of Neal & Knight or Knight and Neal (or even, Night and Day?) would have been ideal, instead of the ludicrous one Pauline Neal dreamed up.
" They dreamed of becoming the new Eric and Ernie. They would fail even to become the new Mike and Bernie." And that's saying something!
(As Graham mentions them, and as an aside, - apparently the BBC were desperate to replace M&W and forced together Lennie Bennett and Jerry Stevens, and I saw and met them when they were booked as the cabaret to entertain us photographic dealers in a hotel in Nice. Jerry was a lovely introvert bloke, who left the razzamatazz to Lennie, and I remember talking to him in the bar before he went to bed early - I discovered that both of us collected book-matches, but he wouldn't let me have the BBC one he was using to light his fags. Grrrr. Lennie, however, was "life and soul" of the after-show party, getting drunk with one of the directors well into the night. I won't elaborate on what was said amongst the company gathered around that table, but it wasn't exactly vicar's tea party repartee, with some very odd drunken sexual suggestions!)
" The tragi-comic fate of Cheese & Onion, however, was simply so odd that it has kept their names fluttering in and out of Britain's comic consciousness ever since their demise and the decline of double acts in general. In a 2018 episode of Inside No. 9, entitled Bernie Clifton's Dressing Room, Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton appeared as 'Cheese and Crackers' - a pair of washed-up entertainers who bore something of a family resemblance to Barry and Mike, while in the same year Danny Robins's darkly comic play End Of The Pier featured Les Dennis as one half of the long-since disbanded double act 'Bobby Chalk and Eddie Cheese', who were similarly reminiscent of the era, if not so much of the duo."
Ahh! Of course - I remember those two programmes well.
As I say, another excellent Chronicle, which you should read, if you haven't already.